Letter From the Editor: Reality Show

Why we have to stop worrying about next season and start thinking about the next 10 years.

Welcome to the revolution.

Everyone wants their business to return to the heady days of 2007. It’s a natural desire, fueled by happy memories of limitless growth and consumer’s huge appetite for indulgence in a buoyant economy. But the new reality is far different from our not-so-distant memories.

The economic meltdown of the last year hit when the world was already undergoing some profound and sweeping changes. The rapid advances in technology, coupled with the globalization of most businesses, has made the planet a much smaller and more connected place.

While that has driven impressive growth as brands and retailers seek to expand their reach, it also has linked economies in some unsettling and disruptive ways. What happens here doesn’t stay here and vice versa.

This is most evident at retail, where merchants of all stripes are struggling to readjust expectations in light of the global spending slowdown. And while some have managed to weather the storm better than others, most find themselves nervously planning for the next selling season without a road map.

That’s where falling back on old notions and patterns can be a recipe for disaster.

Tradition dictates that the retail business lives and dies on last season’s results. But the size and scope of this recession isn’t the only dynamic affecting retailers. The consumer has dramatically changed their shopping habits, and the two forces are creating a “perfect storm” that makes many merchants confused and error-prone.

Simply wishing and waiting for business to return isn’t enough. Now is the time to accept that the world has changed. Now is the time to lay the groundwork to meet a new set of customer needs and expectations.

The smartest players have already set the wheels in motion. They know that this unsettling period is a golden opportunity to make the kind of sweeping change needed to survive the next decade and beyond.

Here’s a look at 10 points that will be instrumental in determining future success:

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