When I chose to build a career around the Retail industry, a lot of my friends asked me – why retailing? Banking and Financial Services seemed to be a better bet. There was so much consulting work happening around it. That was 5 years back. The world hasn’t changed much since then. Banking and Financial Services still consume a lot of consulting, especially IT consulting. But, the key attraction of the Retail industry for me, still remains – its the last mile!
‘The last mile’ has been fascinating me since my B-school days. We had sifted through a lot of case studies during schooling and one thing was more apparant than anything else – the end-consumer was supreme. The companies that cared for their customers’ business always fared better than others. Customers were kings, but the customer’s customer – the end consumer – was and is supreme. And the entities closer to ‘the supreme’ had power in the value network. The closest entities to ‘the supreme’ are the ‘last mile’ – a term I borrow from the ICT (Internet, Cable and Telecom) industry – I apply this term to the physical goods flow rather than byte flow as in ICT industry. (The co-play of these two ‘last miles’ is also very interesting!)
The power of the ‘the last mile’ translates into better growth. Growth creates momentum that in turn adds momentum to all the constituents of the last mile – the careers of employees and consultants included. The momentum also creates a sense of ‘things can be done’. This means a fertile ground for creativity and innovation. All these are exciting, hence ‘the last mile’ is exciting. What better ‘last mile’ than Retail, ‘the last mile’ of physical goods flow – the predominant pre-occupation of a vast majority of people in the world! Hence my decision of Retail vs Banking
Request: Do let me know if I am missing any point in this argument.