First things first: Carol Spieckerman & Richard Gottlieb rethink what retail doesn't think about

What began as a conversation between contrarians has evolved into a collaboration that I can’t wait to share with you.

You know that I’m always challenging retail assumptions, often ones that are widely accepted as fundamental truths, and I found a kindred spirit in toy industry expert and thought leader, Richard Gottlieb.  At this year’s Licensing Expo, Richard and I were trading thoughts on how the toy and retail industries have transformed and where we see it all going.  However, as anxious as we were to explore big ideas, both of us kept coming back to the nagging fundamentals, how many of the guiding principles that form the basis of business decisions are rarely questioned.  Richard calls these “first principles” and he and I are excited about exploring them together and sharing the results with our readers.

Since Richard and I naturally build upon one another’s ideas we didn't see any reason to mess with the formula.  We're continuing our conversation via a series of letters to one another which will be posted as they happen and we’ll keep going until we run out of things to say.  You're invited to eavesdrop or join in the dialogue along the way!

Richard kicked off the conversation in his first letter to me yesterday by questioning department-driven system in retail.  He brought some great historical context as to why the system even exists in the first place and he threw out some provocative challenges regarding the consequences.

In my just-posted response, I explore how "departmentalism" in retail has actually gotten in the way of innovation and ways that the system impacts everything from store environment to supplier volume.  In reality, most stores still operate as "department stores" and that may be holding everyone back!

Is the department system due for redefinition . . . or is it already too late?

Stay tuned!