Who Moved My Cheese? is a well known business book that was on the New York Times business bestseller list for five years, sold more than 26 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 37 languages. First published in 1998, its basic premise is more applicable now than ever, with particular relevance to the current and ongoing changes in retail and ecommerce.

In case you’re not familiar with the book, Who Moved My Cheese? is a story of four characters who live in a maze and ascribe value to cheese. The cheese is a metaphor for what they want in life (e.g. a good job) and the maze is their environment (e.g. their organization or industry). The characters start with an ample supply of cheese and know exactly where to find it. While they worked hard to get to that point in their lives, one day they are faced with a profound change—their existing or ‘old’ cheese has gone and they have to decide whether to go out into the maze and look for ‘new’ cheese.

The story seems simple at first but has significant depth because of the complexity of human behavior. Who Moved My Cheese? is about how people react differently to change: Some sniff out change early or scurry quickly into action when it happens. Others learn to adapt to change over time as they see the potential of something better. But some deny and resist change out of fear that it will inevitably lead to something worse.

Here are five basic learnings from Who Moved My Cheese?:

  1. Change happens: the cheese will keep moving
  2. Anticipate change: be ready for the cheese to move
  3. Monitor change: smell the cheese from time to time so you know when it’s getting old
  4. Adapt to change quickly: the quicker you move on from old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
  5. Enjoy change: savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese

It’s probably already obvious to you what Who Moved My Cheese? has to do with retail and ecommerce. 

The retail and ecommerce ecosystem is confronting change—not just everyday, incremental change but cheese-moving change. And everyone in the industry has to decide how to respond to this change. The change is widespread and deep—it’s ushering in a new age where consumers discover, shop and buy in fundamentally new ways. 

The change is enabled by technology that ubiquitously connects consumers and that’s digitizing in-store and other experiences. The change is also due to the introduction of entirely new business models backed by billions of dollars in venture capital that are broadening traditional ecommerce beyond just online shopping to include on-demand delivery, personalized shopping, recommerce, rentals, subscription services and much more.

And like all meaningful change, change in retail and ecommerce has created big new opportunities as well as deep structural challenges to the status quo. The change impacts personal careers, the future of long-standing institutions and everything in between.

At Shoptalk, a key part of our mission is to provide executives, innovators and everyone else in retail and ecommerce with the framework, knowledge and network to help them respond to the immense change in the most timely and productive ways.

Simply put, we’re empowering individuals throughout retail and ecommerce to find new cheese, and we’re doing it in a few key ways, including:

  1. Constructing the best retail and ecommerce agenda. It’s the best because it’s modern and up-to-date, and covers all the key areas of change. 
  2. Delivering the industry’s best speaker lineup so that everyone can hear from the leaders and innovators defining and confronting change. 
  3. Redefining the retail and ecommerce community by bringing together all key ecosystem stakeholders—old and new—from established company and startup executives to tech and Internet pioneers, prolific investors, influential media, powerful analysts and more.
  4. Facilitating new interactions by curating onsite meetings and dinners as well as arranging exhibit hall tours that cover the latest topics like artificial intelligence and mobile technologies.  

Your cheese has moved. We encourage you to find it at Shoptalk on March 19-22, 2017 at the Aria, Las Vegas.