I had the pleasure of attending Mumbrella's Retail Summit today in Sydney, which brought together some of the retail industry's leading and most forward-looking marketers to discuss how the retail industry is evolving.
One of the panels that most struck me was hosted by Westfield, with the panelists discussing how shopping centres these days aspire to be more like resorts, 5-star hotels, and entertainment parks than what we traditionally associate with dull and drab buildings with standard stores. Today, they're focusing on creating experiences and communities, rather than transactions and sales. Of course, the theory is that the latter will come if the former is done right.
They also outlined their roles at Westfield, which is when I realised just how fundamentally this industry has been turned on its head. There are now activation specialists, data and campaign managers, Facebook review specialists, interior designers, and experience experts - one panelist explained that people often meet him and his team and remark "I didn't know so many people actually worked at Westfield itself!".
For me, it highlights that as retailers are shifting towards being 'customer first', new roles are appearing and taking over more traditional roles. And it has to be that way - retailers aren't going to truly be customer-first unless they fundamentally change the way they hire, work, and deliver services.
While some may see the redundancies at Myer, for example, as a sign of the business shrinking, I have no doubt they're simultaneously hiring rapidly for the 'customer-first' jobs of the future.
It is understood that redundancies have been made in Myer’s marketing and merchandise departments at head office and across its store network, involving administrative and management roles. A spokesman said in a statement the redundancies were a result of its “customer first” strategy. “From doing a thorough review of our entire store management structure and a further review of the store support office, we have identified opportunities to align more closely with our customers, with streamlined roles, clearer accountabilities and improved efficiency,” the spokesman said. “This will ensure we operate in a more efficient manner to improve the financial performance of the business and to deliver shareholder value.”