Today is the last day of the NRF Big Show in New York City, the largest show in retail that kicks off the year here in the Big Apple. While yesterday was jam-packed with people, talks, and demos of the latest and greatest technology impacting the retail world, one event stole the show – the fireside chat with Richard Branson.
Branson talked a lot about innovation and how he himself had to make some tough decisions along the way while evolving his own retail businesses.
“When we saw the handwriting on the wall for Virgin Megastores we decided, well, we don’t have to keep being a retailer. We looked at what products were selling well in our stores. It was the early days of mobile phones, so we decided to start a mobile phone company.”
While a lot of topics were covered during the talk, I think it’s fair to say there was one sentence that has resonated through the show ever since it left Branson’s lips, in fact it’s even on the front page of the daily for today:
In his talk Branson stressed the importance of retailers thinking like Entrepreneurs, embracing all of the technology and change taking place that they’ve traditionally been slower to adopt.
“I know it’s easy to glibly say this, but I think people who own retail stores should not think of themselves as always being retailer. They need to be entrepreneurial, and they need to spin off businesses on the back of their retail can make them money to help the retail stores survive.”
Yesterday I covered three key retail trends emerging from NRF and it’s things technologies like AI, VR, and IoT that the most cutting edge retailers are embracing and using to grow their business and improve the customer experience.
While five years ago it might have been okay for a retailer to slowly dip their toe in the water of innovation, like Branson said, now is the time to think like an entrepreneur and dive right in.