Pursuing an ecosystem-friendly retail strategy

A look at imperative #6 for rethinking retail

The retail community has faced remarkable challenges, opportunities, and change over the past year. Circumstances triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic have changed consumers, retailers, and the ecosystem around them in extraordinary ways. To ensure success moving forward, retailers will need to draw on lessons learned from the pandemic to make strategic investments and accelerate existing efforts in key areas. Our recent research with knowledge partner McKinsey & Company – Retail Speaks – defines these key areas via seven imperatives. The insight below dives into imperative #6, which focuses on the role of partnerships and ecosystems in retailers’ long-term success.

Imperative 6 - Pursue an eco(system)-friendly strategy

The retail business model has always been built on a connected ecosystem of suppliers, service providers, and customers. As such, retailers have long known the value of key partnerships; but the Retail Speaks 6th Imperative explores the need for retailers to update their ecosystem strategy to meet the needs of the 21st century retail landscape. Winning retailers will build on a strong brand position to determine which platform archetype they will adopt: aggregator, eCommerce, marketplace, super app, or service provider – or some combination.
The Covid pandemic accelerated retailers’ eCommerce investments and drove significant growth in omnichannel shopping. Through hard-won experience, retail leaders know that delivering digital services online and in-store requires new kinds of partners and a willingness to creatively work together. RILA members like Target are already demonstrating elements of the strategy in action through investments in delivery capabilities and technologies like Shipt and Deliv, and in partnerships with other leading RILA members like Starbucks, Apple, and Ulta Beauty.

RILA’s Retail Innovation Center was founded several years ago with a recognition that the change to the retail business model expanded the ecosystem of partners critical to future growth. For this reason, the RIC maintains an Investor Network and a Startup Network to help retailers connect with the different types of partners and to help those partners and their investors to better understand retail needs.

Retailers should carefully consider how their capabilities may serve other ecosystem players and which players may bring additional capability and value to retailers.

To learn more about the 6th imperative in our Retail Speaks report, download your copy here. For additional information on RILA’s communities engaging directly on these topics, please contact VP of Innovation Nicholas Ahrens.
  • Technology & Innovation
  • Retail Innovation Center

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