A lot has changed in the last couple of years. I remember when my morning stress of dropping off the kids at school just in time to make my train was replaced with juggling morning meetings, home-schooling, and whatever YouTube exercise videos my kids had lined up for me that day. Sound familiar?
As we all look to return to a ‘new normal’, this period has taught us that things can change overnight, and this is something the retail industry knows only too well. The changes that retail has faced over the last few years have thrown up a whole raft of new challenges it has never seen before, from an incredibly difficult labor market to an unprecedented spike in online ordering, to high levels of supply chain disruption – far from simple to manage. As a result, many of the previously established ways of dealing with such challenges simply do not work anymore; we now need new ways of imagining, developing, and delivering innovations into our ways of working.
Here at Retail Insight, we pride ourselves in offering leading-edge solutions, driven by a mindset of continuous improvement and innovation, enabling us to meet the needs of every client – needs that change on a daily basis and which force us to stay on top of what is happening in the market. One way we do this is through the support of our dedicated research team that unceasingly performs a wealth of market and competitor analysis, such as exploring new cognitive technologies, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning methods or breaking down key strategic technology investment priorities in specific regions. We also invest heavily in comprehensive usage analytics, end-user surveys, customer feedback sessions, sponsoring retail forums, and research projects. This all combines to ensure we have a clear view of the key industry trends and direction of travel.
We have a team of Product Managers, UX Designers, Software Engineers, and Decision Scientists who are constantly out in the field, visiting grocery stores, consumer packaged goods (CPG) field rep hubs, research partners, and customer headquarters. Partnering so closely with these groups allows us the opportunity to delve deeper into the problems faced across the enterprise. It means we can get as close as possible to the problems that they face and drives us to design and execute innovations and enhancements that will solve as many of these challenges as possible.
A lot of product companies will be quite secretive and guarded about their innovation roadmaps, believing it gives them greater control, this typically means you will only learn of a new feature in their press releases. However, we believe a more interactive process is essential, and we enable our clients and users to submit their own ideas, view and comment on others, and vote for the ones that resonate with them. Our development cycle is designed to keep customers engaged and involved, providing early design access to user journeys, prototype testing, and interactive demos – all of which are aimed to ensure our developments are achieving exactly what is needed for the end-user. This collaborative process is essential in ensuring we can help our customers thrive in an ever-changing environment.
Reading between the media headlines, I get the feeling that the retailers that are succeeding are those that are far more open about their challenges and use that to galvanize an innovation process more quickly than their counterparts. It is this energy that is transforming the art and science of new product development and building a retail industry better able to manage change more effectively.