The retail reality reframing the tech industry doom and gloom

22 June 2023
Kees De Jong.

In the midst of continuing layoffs in the tech sector, it's easy to succumb to the gloom and doom narrative. But, as Uncommon People’s Kees De Jong writes, the gaps being left by big tech is creating new opportunities for smaller players, and new jobs. 

The layoffs across the tech sector in the last few months have rocked the industry and the headlines can make for pretty bleak reading. But amidst all the turmoil there are still plenty of opportunities, courtesy of an explosion in the retail marketing sector.

With big tech preoccupied with their internal shake-ups, a wave of nimble and astute smaller players are swooping in to feast on the ever larger crumbs left behind amidst the turmoil. Things like the offshoring of customer service and changes to client leads have created opportunities for these disruptors to, well, disrupt.

And guess what? They're hiring. In Australia, we're witnessing a surge in interest from international players who view it as a launchpad into the vibrant APAC market. While they may be treading cautiously in the US and Europe many are looking to dial up the heat, viewing APAC and LATAM as their gateways to growth.

Retail media is definitely still finding its feet in Australia, and as anyone who has worked here for a while knows, Australia is a very different market to our Northern Hemisphere friends. It means local market knowledge is a hot commodity.

What is in hot demand is people with business development (BD) skills. By that I don’t mean the more limited understanding of BD which we generally have in this market which is equated with cold calling and hard sales.

In the broader context of the US and European markets BD takes on a more strategic and market-oriented meaning. They encompass the ability to develop go-to-market strategies, product fit analysis, and value proposition formulation.

It's not about blindly selling tech products and hoping they work; it's about cultivating commercial opportunities by really looking at the market and understanding where a solution fits well, and how it can be adapted to a client’s needs. This demands a deep understanding of the desires and aspirations of both advertisers and agencies.

For the retail media sector it’s not simply shifting trade marketing budgets or relying on sponsored products, success here is about shifting a chunk of the media budget to these channels. How do you achieve that from an organisational and structural point of view? It's a dance between creativity and commerce, where spotting opportunities and seizing them becomes an art form.

To thrive in this ever-evolving landscape, you need to equip yourself with skills that transcend the ordinary. It's about understanding the pulse of the market, cultivating product-market fit, and embracing the spirit of innovation. This isn't your run-of-the-mill sales game, it's about owning the journey, from concept to execution, and fueling the growth of retail media with your unique talents.

The good news here is that the way many Australian businesses run, with smaller teams and budgets, means we already have a lot of talent in this market capable of doing a lot of the above already.

However, those coming from larger businesses into more startuppy cultures may well find they need to adjust their mindsets and be prepared to get stuck in. Many I know are yearning for the chance to break the shackles and use their enormous knowledge to help create products which truly fit the local market and give the customer what they need.

It’s been a bleak few months in some sectors, and the age of exponential growth for many of these now mature internet tech businesses is well and truly over. But with more innovation and new technology coming into view over the horizon it is quite clear where the next fortunes, and reputations, will be forged. Are you prepared?


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