10 Must-Read Books for Every Retailer

A lot of books have been written. And, there have possibly been written even more lists that tell you which books you ‘need’ to read. Impossible to begin with, it seems. However, we believe that reading is something which everyone should do. Reading can enlighten you with new insights, it can broaden your horizons and it’s just a fun thing to do in your spare time.

As a busy entrepreneur, we understand your time is valuable. You might not have much time to delve into all these lists. In order to guarantee you that your time is spend well while reading, we’ve rounded up a list of must-read books, in no particular order, that undoubtedly will offer you invaluable insights. The list is composed of books which will look at the future of retail from different angles. Others will provide you with some hands-on tricks to immediately get you started, and we have also added books about inspirational entrepreneurs.

1. The Future of Shopping by Jorg Snoeck and Pauline Neerman

Snoeck and Neerman start off their book by shedding an interesting light on the past, the current retail economy and what is yet to come. They sketch why some retailers, like Mexx, failed in their mission and why others survived. What can smaller retailers do in order to survive giants like Walmart and Amazon? The Future of Shopping answers burning questions about which methods to adapt in order to survive the fourth retail wave. The book was elected Management book of the Year 2018 in the Benelux. To us, impossible to leave out of your reading list if you want to delve even deeper into the world of retail.

2. Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz

Everyone is familiar with Starbucks, whether you like coffee or not. Onward narrates how Howard Schultz, after having resigned as CEO in 2000, came back to the company during the financial crisis in 2008. Schultz gives the reader insight into which core principles and values are rooted in the company, and how these values were able to save Starbucks. Onward is an inspiring story, and not only for those in the business world, but for anyone who wants to learn how to cling on to your beliefs. The book is not only an interesting read but also teaches the reader some valuable lessons. Lesson to remember from Onward? People are essential to your business, especially if you keep on growing large.

3. Retail Survival of the Fittest: 7 Ways to Future-Proof Your Retail Store by Francesca Nicasio

Retail Survival of the Fittest provides the retailer with 7 ways on how to prepare themselves for the future. With every step of the way, Nicasio offers the reader very practical and specific action steps to future-proof one’s retail store. Retail Survival of the Fittest uses examples of Amazon, CVS and Walmart to underline the importance of an online presence, an application and data analytics. This very last item might prove very useful in the future. The retailer can use the customer’s data to give personalized discounts, tailor-made loyalty cards and a unique customer experience. Nicasio’s book offers valuable insights for every retailer, whether big or small, to prepare themselves for the retail industry of the future.

4. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

Making a reading list for retail would be incomplete without a book about Amazon. The company, created in 1995, is the biggest retailer worldwide and is by many considered as a threat to all brick-and-mortar retailers. After it required Whole Foods Market, Amazon has even further expanded the notion of e-commerce. Stone had the opportunity to speak to Amazon employees and members who shared the secrets of the company’s success. The Everything Store explains how hard Jeff Bezos has worked to build the company and why he attaches much importance to its corporate culture. The Everything Store sheds a light on the giant Amazon and how the company has shaped the way we shop nowadays.

5. Customers the Day After Tomorrow: How to Attract Customers in a World of AI, Bots and Automation by Steven Van Belleghem

The customer experience. A word we simply cannot escape, especially since the previous decade. What cannot be ignored about customer experience is the fact that our technology is evolving. Our technologies are improving to further ameliorate and perfect the customer’s experience. Key today to this experience is streamlined processes, listening to feedback from clients and being customer-oriented. But are these elements enough to lure the customer in? Which investments should companies make if they want to serve the customers of tomorrow? Van Belleghem hints at the future importance of virtual assistants, bots and client data and explains how these new technologies will impact the experience of the customer.

6. Smart Retail: Winning ideas and strategies from the most successful retailers in the world by Richard Hammond

Smart Retail’s author, Hammond, based his book on one question he asked to the world’s biggest and leading retailers: ‘What makes you so good?’. Hammond reveals seven retail secrets to the reader with which they can improve their retail business. An example of a secret he lets the reader on is to reduce purchase friction meaning that the retailer must accommodate the customer in his shopping experience with as little trouble as possible. Smart Retail provides you with some hands-on, practical examples from the biggest retailers in the world like Apple, Rynair and Albert Heijn. Hammond equips you with the right knowledge and practical advice you need. Ready to score some winning ideas and strategies?

7.Visual Merchandising: Windows and in-store displays for retail by Tony Morgan

Visual merchandising is in itself an immensely broad topic. With its birth, it has brought a whole new list of vocabulary and ideas. Morgan aims to not only educate retailers but also wishes to enlighten students “in the workings of the world of the visual merchandise”. Visual Merchandising showcases examples from different types of stores, whether big or small, accompanied by some tips and tricks from established visual merchandisers. Morgan also shares two new previous case studies – which were not included in the previous versions of the book. Added bonus to Visual Merchandising: itexplains some of the psychology behind shopping behaviour.

8. The Pop Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connections in a Digital Age by Melissa Gonzalez

In a rapidly changing, ever-updating world, ‘being online’ is not just going to cut it for many retailers. Gonzalez, a known retail strategist, reveals the solution: the pop-up method. The author, who herself was responsible for several outstanding pop-ups from the likes of Ariana Rockefeller and Marc Jacobs, explains how retailers can use pop-ups to their benefit. These temporary retail solutions are the ideal opportunity to offer the customer a tailored brand experience. A pop-up store is the ideal place to come into contact with the people behind the brand. Gonzalez tackles some of the ways in which pop-ups can benefit your brand. Moreover, she gives some clear examples of success stories. Ready for one for your brand?

9. Omnichannel in retail – The answer to e-commerce by Gino Van Ossel (Dutch)

Retail isn’t the same as it was thirty, twenty or ten years ago. Most probably, the business will always keep on changing. A new world full of opportunities was welcomed with the birth of internet. Being online has forever changed the way retail operates. The consumer can use the internet to spill his opinion, good or bad, on a certain product you, as a retailer, provide. The consumer buys differently than he did five year ago. This new buying behaviour raises a lot of questions to which Van Ossel provides a solution. And that solution is omnichannel, which should not be focused on your store but on your client. With nifty checklists, Van Ossel provides the retailer with a personalized and correct answer for every sector and every company. A must for everyone who wants to understand the future client relationship.

10. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Thiel shares the expertise he acquired as a co-founder and investor of PayPal, Facebook and SpaceX, but warns the reader that one formula to success simply cannot exist. Zero to One gives the reader insight in the startups of the late 90s in Silicon Valley and shares why having a monopoly is important to every successful company. In addition, Thiel provides the reader with a checklist of characteristics that all monopolies share. These characteristics are proprietary technology, network effects, economies of scale and branding. Finally, Zero to One gives a sneak peek into those invaluable things every company should do in order to continue ‘making a killing’. The secret? Innovation is unique and therefore needs a fresh and untried path.

Let us know which of these books you have read yourself and which other books you recommend to your colleagues in retail.