The macro question of the day—is this a business cycle or a total change?
The inefficiency of the real estate business is one of its greatest elements and a dynamic market equals opportunity. We all naturally want great grades and experiences (A’s and B’s) and most do not want C’s—particularly change, challenges, conflicts, and/or competition.
However, these experiences typically prove to be invaluable catalysts to the next phase of our evolution and should be embraced accordingly. Changes affect everyone, so always build the best team you can, as it will put you in the optimal position to respond. Challenges and opportunities are inextricably united—essentially you never have one without the other. The hurdles of conflicts met become barriers protecting our related achievements, and competition clearly makes us better. One of the best things for our business is good competition and one of the worst is the lack of it. Competition clearly drives us to peak performance and leads to innovation and creation, raising the bar and all the other best practices that build upon themselves to strengthen our platforms.
A change in perspective and “competitive” then becomes “complimentary”. A great example of this is the current retail environment in which technology is the catalyst to reinventing and reinvigorating the industry, as digital and physical experiences extend the reach of one another. The internet is clearly changing the distribution of supply, and leading retailers are adapting their stores and business models accordingly. Merchants need e-commerce to market and compete, and e-commerce retailers need physical stores to deepen and optimize their distribution channels, however, most importantly to deliver the social, interactive, and engagement aspects of the shopping experience. Just as best-in-class retailers have embraced omni-channel retailing by giving their customers a seamless experience through multiple shopping channels—from catalogs and physical stores to smart phones, computers, and TV’s—e-commerce retailers, most notably Amazon, are now opening stores to meet the myriad of human needs that the shopping experience satisfies beyond the transaction itself.
So, whether this is a cycle or a change, we should always be thinking about, and be responsive to, the dynamics of the market—the challenges, opportunities, and changes that we are experiencing, and what we are doing in response—per both our core business and the connected extensions. As always, agility and flexibility are the keys; and as change normalizes—as by definition everything does—competition will lead to differentiation and in turn activate the next cycle.
Steven A. Lieberman is CEO and co-chairman of The Retail Connection.