TELUS Business was a sponsor at the Retail Council of Canada STORE 2017 conference, Canada’s largest retail event bringing together more than 2,000 delegates across the retail value chain. With an unprecedented number of store closures in Canada and the US, the event focused on the impact of digital and the future of retail disruption.
So what’s changing in the retail frontier? Why have the last 12 months been significant in driving disruption in the industry? Over the two-day event, a full roster of brilliant retail minds, including Michele Romanow of Dragon’s Den helped to answer those important questions.
Core messages that continued to rise to the surface were:
Improved customer experience (CX) by retail disruptors
The ever-increasing influence of mercurial shoppers
The growth of eCommerce and blurring of geographical borders
The rise of craft brands and their ability to go to market, learn, adjust and scale fluidly
To provide guidance and inspiration on these fundamental themes, I had the pleasure of hosting a TELUS Business VIP Retail ThinkTank session during the event, featuring Doug Stephens, Retail Prophet founder, author and recognized retail futurist.
With a focus on innovation, Doug shared why and how retailers need to make it a priority to help future-proof their business.
Innovation supports long-term growth - but most businesses have processes that hinder it
While 70% of businesses believe innovation is a priority, only 20% measure innovation and most businesses have processes and structures that actually hinder innovation. Consider “brainstorming sessions.” They are shown to be unproductive and they don’t enable innovation. Instead Doug recommends “unpacking sessions” where team members work together to reach a common understanding, and then take away the foundational information to individually generate ideas that address problems or opportunities.
Only 2% of an average workforce is defined as truly creative
Businesses need to nurture and reward creativity and innovation. Cultivate a culture of innovation with the power of the “what if, why notand 10X” narrative:
What if? (What if a video store could come to me? Enter: Netflix)
Why not? (Why can’t I buy prescription glasses from the comfort of my home?)
10X or 10% (Do I want to make a product, service or process 10X better or 10% better?)
Asking these key questions can set the culture script that embraces the right level of innovation for your business.
Fast-follow with prototypes and testing to speed time to market
Are you seeking break-through, game-changing innovation or continuous improvement?Both are acceptable, but you need to self-define what you are looking for.
Once your company decides on an innovative idea, be sure to fast-follow with prototypes and testing to get to market quickly. Innovative retailers are building environments to test and pilot new ideas such as Walmart and its Innovation @Labs initiative, an idea incubator that looks beyond building products to bringing experiences to life.
Customers must be at the centre of your business model
The growth of eCommerce, increased competition, and the customer’s ability to shop wherever and whenever demands that retailers rethink their own retail ecosystem and look for ways to attract and retain today’s shopper. Customers must be at the core of your business model with authentic, consistent customer experiences delivered across and beyond the buyer journey.
Advanced technology supports retailers in their journey of digital transformation
Companies that cultivate innovation, rethink their retail strategies and embrace new digital technologies will be able to compete in the new retail ecosystem.
At TELUS, we know that every business is at a different point in its digital transformation (DX). We enable our customers’ transformation with advanced communications technologies that securely integrate network and mobility, drive productivity and collaboration, and help you compete and thrive in the face of digital disruption.