Something pretty dramatic has been happening in the world of retail over the past few weeks. No, it’s not the supermarket price wars and neither is it the large number of IPOs the sector has been witnessing.
It’s the change in management organisations at the some of the largest retailers to recognise the role of multi-channel and to promote individuals with responsibility in this area.
Sounds a bit boring right? Well, no. You’d be very wrong to think this because the changes taking place right now will have a far reaching impact on many people working in the retail industry.
Among the changes to have taken place recently is the restructure at Tesco – to position the entire organisation around multi-channel. This has meant (even more) added responsibility for group multi-channel director Robin Terrell, CIO Mike McNamara, and chief digital officer Michael Comish (who founded Blinkbox).
But it is not just in these executive roles where the change is happening because Tesco has also stated its aim to re-distribute 300,000 “colleague hours” to gear the operation towards multi-channel. This is far reaching stuff – and Tesco is not alone in switching its focus to a hybrid integrated world of digital and stores.
Marks & Spencer last week announced sweeping changes to its organisational structure that most notably has seen the elevation of Laura Wade-Gery, executive director for multi-channel, to also head up the company’s UK stores division. This puts her in a very powerful position and highlights how M&S is also pitching itself firmly as a multi-channel operation.
With such a broad remit it is not surprising that she has been mooted as the most likely successor to M&S’ under pressure CEO Marc Bolland – despite the poor initial performance of the company’s new online store.
Either way, the clear reading from this is that yet another large UK retailers has recognised the imperative of aligning their stores and online operations by appointing a senior executive to oversee both areas with a much-needed joined-up perspective.
Other small retailers are taking a similar stance to better position themselves for a multi-channel future but it is telling that the big guns like Tesco and M&S have effectively called time on running stores and online in silos.
Expect to see a lot more organisational upheaval in the industry as other large retailers begin to follow suit. If they don’t then the consequences will be serious.