Bionic Retail

How to Thrive in an Exponential World

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Pub Date 16 Apr 2024 | Archive Date Not set

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A new retail species is emerging from the chaos of innovation, a fusion of technological and human capability, making retail better… faster… stronger. Bionic Retail.

But as retail evolves into the future, there is a problem: The pace of change outside organizations is growing faster than within… creating a growing gap. A gap between how we believe the world is and how it actually is. A gap between the processes, practices, and culture that has made retail successful in the past, and what’s required in the time ahead. And a growing gap between shopper expectations and the traditional store.

As we pass the inflection point on the exponential growth curve of technology, retailers can harness accelerating innovation to create the future of retail… or choose to remain on the path to retail purgatory. But an inspired vision alone is potential. There are decisions to be made and work to be done to create the flywheel to the future.

Shedding constraining beliefs and practices must be combined with an ongoing view into new and future technology developments. And those synthesized into an evolving vision for retail’s future.

So you have a decision to make: Will you purposefully decide to change paths to the bionic future, or remain on the path to retail purgatory?

A new retail species is emerging from the chaos of innovation, a fusion of technological and human capability, making retail better… faster… stronger. Bionic Retail.

But as retail evolves into the...

Advance Praise

“Gary has done it again! Bionic Retail is a must-read for leadership in the supermarket industry. Today’s supermarket experience continues to evolve, and Gary has done an excellent job of explaining the speed of technology and how it will impact the supermarket experience in the future. Supermarket leaders should be focused on the speed of retail change and how those technological advancements can positively impact the customer experience in the future.” 

STEVEN C. SMITH, President and CEO, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.

“In his latest book, Gary Hawkins leverages his extensive experience to provide unique insights on how tech-driven disruption is shaking up the retail sector. A very useful read for retailers and other commentators alike, and in fact, for anyone thinking about how newer technologies (e.g. generative AI) will impact retail. Now more than ever, retailers need to embrace change and transformation, and this book will help them on that journey.” 

RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN, Managing Director, General Retail, RBC Capital Markets

“Amidst the ever-changing landscape of the grocery industry, adopting the rapid technological advancements is not merely an option; it’s the gateway to a future where convenience, sustainability, and innovation harmonize to nourish both our bodies and the world we inhabit. Gary’s book Bionic Retail underscores the importance of cultivating the mindset and culture within the grocery industry to embrace the swift pace of technology innovation.”

DOUG BAKER, Vice President of Industry Relations, FMI, The Food Industry Association

“We have come to discover that courage and curiosity are two of the most critical leadership traits. Gary Hawkins expands on these character traits by identifying the outcomes: inspired vision, committed action, and an innovation doctrine. Hawkins is a creative storyteller who is passionate about helping retail industry leaders learn from his lessons and the lessons of others. In his most recent book, Bionic Retail, Hawkins uses intentional metaphors, historical perspectives, and interesting new facts about technology to enlighten future leaders. Bionic Retail is a must-read for every leader in the retail and CPG industries who is wondering how to compete and win in the future. I encourage all my students to read Hawkins’ books so they are prepared to compete in a world where AI will drive our strategic decisions and enhance our ability to innovate like never before.”

DR. CYNTHIA MCCLOUD, Director and Adjunct Professor, USC Marshall School of Business Food Industry Programs

“Another excellent book from Gary Hawkins. Bionic Retail is a must-read for today’s grocery industry leaders at all levels. It clearly articulates what is happening in today’s world with impactful examples from the grocery industry of yesterday and today. After reading Bionic Retail, I have a much clearer understanding of the speed of change and the ‘danger of doing nothing’ or worse, ‘doing what we have always done.’”

MIKE STIGERS, President, Wakefern Food Corporation

“Bionic Retail by Gary Hawkins is an absolute must-read for anyone in the world of retail, from seasoned veterans to aspiring leaders. Hawkins delivers a compelling wake-up call, highlighting the urgent need for transformation in the face of exponentially accelerating innovation in the industry. The book is a treasure trove of real-world examples that pull back the curtains behind some of today’s most significant innovations, providing invaluable insights and inspiration. It not only illuminates the path toward cultivating a tech-forward culture but also offers a pragmatic framework for getting started and building the organizational muscle. Bionic Retail is the resounding call to action that laggards require and a resounding endorsement for those who have leaned into transformation with enthusiasm. Gary Hawkins has crafted a masterful guide to the future of retail that should not be missed.”

TOM FURPHY, CEO, Consumer Equity Partners

“Gary Hawkins has been a leading voice in the world of retail technology, and with Bionic Retail, Gary is sharing his expertise with retailers at a critical moment in time when technology is changing business faster than we can adapt. This book is a must-read for any retailer or business leader looking to develop a customer-focused strategy to prepare themselves for the exponential world into which we are entering.”

KARTHIK EASWAR, Associate Teaching Professor of Marketing, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

“This is Gary Hawkins’ most ambitious and important book to date. Bionic Retail is a consilience of sorts, a unity of knowledge, combining technological innovation with human inspiration, as applied to the consumer goods and food retailing industries. Inventive technology continues to accelerate at an exponential pace, widening the gap between functionality and utility. Those companies that move closer to the former through pipelines, applications, and platforms will enjoy a growing competitive advantage. The laggards will be at risk. Gary deftly lays out the case for cultural and organizational change and preparing for a new technology-enabled world that couldn’t be imagined—much less lived in—not too long ago. This is a must-read for all C-suite food industry executives.”

MARK W. BAUM, Chief Collaboration Officer, FMI, The Food Industry Association

“Gary Hawkins’ latest book, Bionic Retail, is a must-read for anyone in the retail industry. It’s a thought-provoking exploration of the future of retail, where physical automation and artificial intelligence are integrated through a digital nervous system into our human organizations to create a new retail species: Bionic Retail. Hawkins’ deep experiences with retailers and technology providers shines through, providing a blueprint for navigating the rapidly changing retail landscape. This book challenges traditional retail operating and business models, urging retailers to look beyond the shiny new innovations and focus on aligning their organizational structures and decision-making processes with the future. Bionic Retail is more than just a book; it’s a road map to the future of retail.”

SHISH SHRIDHAR, Global Retail Lead, Microsoft for Startups

“Gary Hawkins manages to quote Ray Bradbury and Lewis Carroll, cite Star Trek and The Six Million Dollar Man, and use his Bernese Mountain Dog puppy as a business metaphor in Bionic Retail, which makes him my kind of technology writer: accessible and relevant, making a persuasive case for how to actually act on actionable information.”

KEVIN COUPE, “Content Guy,”

“Gary has done it again! Bionic Retail is a must-read for leadership in the supermarket industry. Today’s supermarket experience continues to evolve, and Gary has done an excellent job of explaining...

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ISBN 9798891380639
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Featured Reviews

This is an excellent book on how technology advancement is changing the Retail industry and how retailers can keep up with the rapid pace of change. Bionic Retail refers to the retail business model built on the backbone of a digital nervous system.

Gary Hawkins ran a family store many years back. He mentions how he always kept abreast of the latest practices; for instance, he started a customer loyalty program, home delivered items etc. Retail is a complex business with several parts needing to come together. Some of these became evident during the pandemic with supply chain issues and shortages.

A considerable portion of the book is devoted to technology advancement in general, as well as how it impacts retail. For instance, he quotes Ray Kurzweil, that a $1,000 computer in 2001 was equivalent to an insect brain, in 2015 to a mouse brain, and now a human brain. In 20 years, it will have the power of all human brains. This is how exponentially technology is progressing. There are references to Moore's law, Quantum computing, AR/VR, Computer vision, Digital Twins, Video analytics, and especially AI. Technology has always been at the forefront of retail industry change – be it barcodes many years back to accelerate check-outs, later personalized offers and now Retail Media Networks. Amazon has been the leader in technology innovation in the recent past, with Just Walk Out stores, palm checkout & robotics being the latest. It is investing more including in food retail.

A lot is happening in the industry and retailers are investing to keep up – Retail Media Networks. Hyper-Personalization, Smart-checkout, Omi-channel, AI based customer support etc. Walmart, for instance has a bot for vendor negotiations and it has turned out to be win-win with fast closures. A number of new technology companies find brief mention including Trigo, AiFi, Grabango, Augmodo, Instacart, Refinition, Birdzi, Symbotic systems, HuLoop, Blutag, Sifter Solutions, ScriptSave.

This is a very well written book with a call for retailers to transform leveraging technology. This transformation requires big picture strategic thinking and openness to change. Each retailer has its own strengths and need to fuse innovation with that. For instance, Walmart is now the largest grocery retailer in US with 90% Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store and this provides it certain advantages. There are other retailers very strong in certain areas etc. There is a lot of good information on upcoming areas, aspects important for retailers to keep in and prepare for the future. Most of the high-level business & technology information is provided in the book itself and there is no specific prerequisite to reading this book.

My rating: 4.5 / 5.

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