Three ways retailers can prepare for tomorrow

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George Smith spoke this week about helping retailers prepare and revealed some brutal truths about modern consumer habits.

"The story of the last few decades in retail has been about the empowerment of customers," says George Smith, the managing director of Valtech. The act of making decisions about what the customer buys has switched from being under the control of retailers, to being solely under the control of customers.

Speaking at WIRED Retail, Smith outlines the "three pillars" -- orchestration, integration and evolution -- that retailers can follow to thrive in the changed environment.

Firstly, orchestration. "It is virtually impossible to gain competitive advantage in the modern world unless you orchestrate advantages around the consumer," says Smith. He points to the example of Instagram and Polaroid. Polaroid, he says is "a fantastic brand and many people love it". In 2011 when Instagram was sold to Facebook, the most popular filter was Polaroid. "Theres always brand nostalgia," says Smith. "People loved the brand."

But about the same time Polaroid went bust. Polaroid forgot about orchestration, he says. The company thought its job was making cameras and film. In fact, "their job was capturing memories and sharing them instantly".

HMV and Blockbuster are examples of companies that made the same mistake. Blockbuster thought its job taking DVD boxes and putting them on the shelf, whereas actually it was putting cinematic experiences in the home. "They didn't orchestrate that experience."

"Whenever we work with a non-retailer, they're asking to turn them into retailers," says Smith. He points to traditional manufacturing companies like Audi, which Valtech is currently working with.

The full story can be seen at wired: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-11/24/george-smith-valtech