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Retail Laggards

Due to the changing world where uncertainty is unavoidable, the speed of change today has surpassed the ability of most brands and retailers to keep pace, and the acceleration of disruptive forces in retail is causing the rapid transformation of the industry. Therefore, the speed of taking action on something can determine the possibility of turning into a “laggard.”


In the era where supply exceeds demand and disruptions through online penetration are abundant, retail disruptors such as e-commerce and q-commerce (quick commerce—a delivery platform that delivers in a few minutes) have started to steal the market share from traditional retailers. To stay in business, all companies need to be adaptable, embrace change, and be more resilient. However, in the US market, a group of "laggards" or firms with slow progress in adapting to the changing world and having a high risk of running out of business has a market share of about 30 percent. This large size presents an opportunity to earn even more sales and transform into more resilient and adjustable organizations, but only if they move pass the laggard state.


As demand rapidly varies from various disruptions, building a solid ecosystem to boost platform stickiness via becoming a ‘one-stop solution’ is crucial to surviving and stop becoming a laggard. One good example is the e-commerce giant Alibaba. The firm provides “Taobao” as a marketplace for people wanting to buy standard products, “TMALL” for purchasing from brand owners or authorized distributors, and “1688” for wholesale products. Even the delivery service is also provided by its very own “Cainiao.” With its ecosystem, customers’ shift in buying behavior will not affect its revenue since service like payments is already in people’s everyday life.


Partnership is a survival tool for smaller businesses to strengthen their ecosystem. Companies with excellent products might need help investing in sound back-end systems like delivery services. Therefore, establishing partnerships with organizations that are experts in mobility can be the solution. A collaboration between Dolly, an application for moving and furniture delivery services and home goods retailer Crate and Barrel are one innovative partnership example. With this partnership, the latter gained the ability to streamline its delivery service and earn more market share.

These two alternatives can help the business through the rapidly shifting conditions. The capacity to be timely change is also necessary since "the first mover" will benefit from opportunities such as building brand awareness, customer loyalty, and increasing sales. Resilience and the ability to change have become essential survival skills in nowadays of disruption in every business sector and creating partnerships and platform stickiness strengthens the organization.

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