All good things must come to end — including, after nearly four years, my contributions to this column. “Retail Rap” will soon be forging on without me. This is the first of two final columns I’ll be contributing, and I’ll beg your indulgence if I wax nostalgic at times in this, column number 99, and in my last submission two weeks from now, Retail Rap number 100. In an industry that is always focused on the next big thing, I thought for this weeks Retail Rap it would be fitting to talk about what’s next, and about where the future of the retail industry and retail real estate might be headed. Since one of the best ways to figure out where you’re going is to look at where you’ve been, I went back and took a closer look at all of the previous 98 entries in the Retail Rap series.
By looking at the most popular words — shown in the word cloud above — it gave me some insights into topics that have been most critical to our industry these past few years.
Some of what the word cloud showed was expected—or at least unsurprising. While the words less and more both appeared, for example, there has clearly been a whole lot more of more and less of less over the years. For an industry which thrives on optimism and a relentless forward momentum, that seems appropriate. In a way, more is almost literally the name of the game.
I also thought it was interesting that while brick-and-mortar appears 92 times in 98 columns, the word mobileappears 84 times — and online makes an appearance an eye-opening 111 times. Our industry continues to evolve to find a natural equilibrium between those different distribution points. We do know that mobile and online sales are transforming retail in profound ways. One of the consequences of that transformation is a change in the way that we think about sales numbers. It’s not just a brick-and-mortar game anymore, and sales numbers that don’t account for new avenues and new variables can be misleading.
For my final Retail Rap, column number 100, I’ll lay out my thoughts on that issue (and some other ideas about what comes next for the industry). I hope you tune back in!
After reading this week’s Retail Rap, I’d like to hear your thoughts on what other issues you have seen as critical over the past few years? What have the biggest trends been that we haven’t discussed in this space?