I’ve spent this week in Australia doing some work around the changes that are occurring in the business landscape. One of the examples I used is retail where a shift is occurring that will prove almost seismic in its effects. There’s a couple of things going on for retail – on the one hand big box retailing is stealing traditional retailer’s market share – the move to the mall, the move to hyper chains is all decimating small retail. One way that retail can survive is by reinventing itself as hyper-specialized, hyper-focused and with an intense concern around service.

On the other hand however we’re seeing a proliferation of artisanal, boutique retailers who are hyper-specialized. these retails are providing solutions for, to use a hackneyed phrase, the long tail. They’re touching customer segments that larger retails simply can’t, by providing highly customized, individualized and boutique solutions.

Over the week I’ve been given a few examples (thanks Tim) of this in actions and wanted to tell the story of a traditional retailer turning things on the head and reinventing. Victor Churchill is a butcher’s shop in Sydney, Australia that was first founded in 1876 – over the past 140-odd years it’s had  total of four distinct ownerships as depicted in the infographic below.


A couple of years ago, when the fourth owners of the store took over, they had a good look at what retail means in a modern world and decided to reinvent their store, their approach and their very business.

So what does that mean in real terms?

  • There is no traditional “check out” instead customer service people (who are all either butchers or chefs themselves) help individual customers
  • They’re embracing a new way of communicating with customers – ever heard of a butcher’s shop with online chat? With an AppStore Application? Victor Churchill’s have both
  • You want some recipes for those sausages you just bought? Go online where you can sign up to a world of added information all aimed at helping you get the best out of what you’ve just purchased
  • Want to have an experience focused around meat that is both online and off? Victor Churchill, on top of their online resources, run cooking classes for customers
  • Want an experience that screams high quality? Think the best cuts of meat, custom designed packaging and an interior fit out that is truly a tour de force

If Victor Churchill was a software company – his would all be very much de rigueur. But they’re not, they’re a traditional business using a modern approach in an effort to literally reinvent an industry. That’s exciting as it’s a direct application of what us early adopters harp on about. Nice work guys!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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