Gap Inc., America’s largest specialty retailer, delivered disappointing sales for September and in a surprise announcement, revealed that it’s tenured CEO Glenn Murphy would be stepping down. Chief Digital Officer Art Peck will transition to CEO in early 2015. The announcement is a testament to the value of digital business in planning for long-term growth and leadership. Peck was unanimously picked by the Gap Board to lead.
According to a press release announcing the leadership change, Murphy stated, “With consumer expectations rapidly evolving, Art is the right leader at the right time to build on our success and ensure a compelling experience for our customers across both our physical and digital channels.” While Murphy will be remembered for global expansion, defining khaki culture and bringing Gap online, he has recently “struggled to reinvigorate the company’s namesake brand.”
A fresh perspective and a digital lens might be just what Gap needs to revitalize sales. Placing an indiviudal with a high digital acumen at the helm will ensure that digital takes center stage for the continued expansion of a digital ecosystem. Named one of Fast Company‘s “100 Most Creative People in Business“, Art Peck has already been breathing new life into the classic brand with an in-house social media platform for the 36,000 retail employees and introducing outfit suggestions via phone scanning for shoppers.
Retailers that shy away from digital face an upward battle as there is now a digital expectation from your customers. Nordstrom enabled e-commerce through Instagram, Macy’s is rolling out iBeacons, and heavy hitting fashion houses embrace wearable tech. Omni-channel is essential to any successful campaign. In fact, in 2013, 81% of consumers interact with a retailer online before heading to it’s brick & mortar location. A traditional retailer like Gap putting the reins in the hands of a digital expert? From our perspective, this is very exciting news, and it is rewarding to see a board of directors going all in on digital and essentially transforming the company business strategy.