Today on CBT News, anchor Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Doug Stephens, founder and CEO of The Retail Prophet. His company is one of the most well-known consultancies in the retail industry. Stephens is also the author of many successful books including his recent book, Resurrecting Retail: The Future of Business in a Post-Pandemic World. Stephens has been featured in many major publications such as The New York Times and Bloomberg.
Stephens begins the conversation by discussing his latest book. He says he wants readers to take away how the unique aspects of the COVID-19 crisis have changed the retail industry forever. Stephens says that the dealers that see the digital transformation during the pandemic as temporary, need to change their outlook. Instead of returning to the way business was conducted before the pandemic, Stephens says dealers should reconsider their business model to integrate new retail methods into their future business strategy.
Stephens references the rapid growth of Carvana as a company for dealers to model in the way they handle online retailing. While dealers shouldn’t abandon the in-person dealership experience, they should be prepared to meet the needs of consumers who feel more comfortable conducting business outside of the showroom.
Stephens then references Steve Jobs’ outlook on design. While many see design as the way something looks, Jobs encouraged people to see the mechanics behind design. In the auto industry, Stephens says that design should not be about the visual aspect of dealerships, but instead the mechanics behind how the dealership operates. Dealership operations must be moldable to meet the needs of its customers.
Stephens concludes the conversation by sharing his perspective on how the retail industry has changed. He says that consumers hold the power and brands are starting to realize they need to bring value to customers by meeting their specific needs. Regarding EVs, Stephens says that the political emphasis on climate change could trickle down to consumers, building more demand from consumers than what’s been seen in the past. He says that automakers are starting to make changes that were inevitable, and the quality of new EVs will determine whether or not they move consumers.
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