March 2019: Omnichannel
Amazon is engaged in an all-out innovation assault on retail, as explored in “Amazon in the Flesh” on page 1, but has Amazon made anybody’s life better? Or just easier? Convenience stores have always been about “easier” but now stand a chance of making our lives better (see “In Convenience,” page 7). Mid-sized natural retail is bringing better options in from the coasts to underserved areas and making it easier to live better (see “Mid-size Mayhem” page 14).
But other changes make it easy to get lost in the “more” and forget about easier or better. In “Digital Retail,” page 21, we learn about data changing the relationship between brands and brick-and-mortar, but it’s not clear how that makes anything better for the consumers. Smart speakers are showing up on kitchen counters across the country, seemingly more novel than useful, but maybe the natural products industry can make it easier to live better with the opportunity for coaching (see “Smart Speaker Smarts,” page 11).
Wherever all these changes are taking the natural products industry, and commerce in general, the “why are we in this business anyway?” moment of reflection can’t be ignored.