Customer is still the boss

FINDING out what your consumers want, meeting those needs and

communicating it to your customers is the key to retail success, says David Jones CEO Peter Wilkinson.

Mr Wilkinson told an Australian Institute of Company Directors meeting that all retailers needed to focus on who they wanted to do business with.

“At the same time, try not to disenfranchise too many others,” he said.

Mr Wilkinson said the Internet explosion in retailing was still to bear fruit.

“It was very interesting to watch the progress of iVillage,” he said.

“It produced $45 million in revenue last year and $90 million in losses.

“Our view is the bricks and clicks approach to cyberspace is the one that is going to work.”

However, Mr Wilkinson believes big retailers have to come to terms with the Internet.

“Some small retailers are very entrepreneurial,” he said.

“I think some of the big stores are the ones that will be put to the test by the Internet.”

Mr Wilkinson said it was also crucial that retailers dealt more effectively with their executives.

“As an industry we’ve failed to invest in our executives,” he said.

“We’re paying for it now. We simply can not find people in this country who are ready, willing and trained to be David Jones’ buyers.”

Mr Wilkinson said it will be another two years before the Ahern stores in Perth bore the David Jones brand.

The company will instead spend the two years ensuring it knows how Western Australians like to shop.

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