In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler made a shocking admission: that he missed the boat on technology’s ability to rapidly transform retailing.
In an era when technology obviously has had a massive impact on the evolution of shopper preferences and habits, Drexler’s admission shows that even the most-seasoned execs can totally whiff when it comes to predicting the future.
The RTP team discusses what retailers — CEOs in particular — can do to learn from this mistake, especially as they aim to keep a more open-minded point of view regarding their brands’ future.
Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief: It’s difficult for us, as retail editors who write about retail technology every day, to believe that a longtime retail CEO would miss the mark on new technology to that degree. To me it sounds a bit like an over-reaching excuse for failure. That said, it is an ongoing struggle for retailers to juggle the priorities of “keeping the lights on” vs. implementing the latest shiny object. And often it is the right decision to hold off and let others experiment with new tech before jumping in. But at some point they have to jump in or face FOBLB (an acronym I just invented: Fear Of Being Left Behind). Once all your competitors have implemented and are succeeding with mobile POS, RFID, AI or IoT, then your lame attempt at jumping in too late may just be that — too late. In today’s fast-moving, digitally motivated society, retailers really do need to speed up the decision-making process when it comes to innovative technologies that will improve the customer experience and exceed customer expectations. It’s okay to test and learn in order to stay in the game.
Adam Blair, Executive Editor: Mickey Drexler’s mea culpa is a welcome bit of honesty, but he’s certainly not the only one who missed a bunch of signs that now seem crystal clear in…