Retail Technology goes beyond touch

Retail Technology

A great article by Russell Willcox on technological innovation in retailing. @BoxTechnologies

Showrooming – the practice of using a high street store’s goods and services to try out a product before going online to buy it at the lowest price possible, is not a new shopping trend. Online portal reports that ’48% of showroomers use physical stores to research products with no intention of making a purchase’.


Mixed discipline innovation

A team built with mixed skills and know-how will always be stronger than a group-think silo. Business insight is a combination of looking at an opportunity through multiple lenses and forming a view of what these multiple observations mean. Successful businesses look, listen and learn from as many sources as possible. This means an extended network is highly desirable. The easiest way to extend the network is bring in different people for divergent thinking on shared business problems. Right brainer, left brainer, activist, theorist – they all create balance and augment team and the enterprise in which they work.

Follow this link to an article on the subject by Bill Gross, CEO of Idealab

Idea generation for innovation

There are many techniques for developing new ideas. For some businesses like 3M, IDEO and Frog, these techniques are ingrained into the very DNA of the company culture and structure. But what about the business that knows it needs to change, how do they do it? The World is filled with great companies, endowed with great technical experience in their respective fields. Yet despite their successes they are without the technique to realise their future aspirations? May great ideas wither on the vine through an inability to harvest them efficiently.

Often an organisation is not really aware of the true creative capability of its workforce. This is particularly the case for large organisations with physically demanding tasks – such as a manufacturing plant for automotive. In this type of environment you have highly dexterous workforce engaged in a semi autonomous process. Whilst being engaged fully in the repetitive tasks it is possible for the highly motivated employee to have exceptional moments of divergent thinking.  It is as if the body in autopilot enables the operative to hand over a portion of their creative mind to musings on any number of technical or social scenarios. So how can a business capitalise on this untapped human resource?

Is idea creation best encouraged through brainstorming, idea competitions, idea factories, open sourcing?

Here are some methods of generating good ideas

Innovation intro

Innovation is considered by many to be a crucible for mixing exotic ideas with the rationality of commercialisation.

Is innovation the by-product of strategic initiatives at a corporate level – developed by wailing and gnashing of corporate teeth in the boardroom?

Are innovators the creative gurus of the 21st century knowledge economy – having zen moments whilst riding trick scooters at a South Bank skate park?

Businesses in the current age are faced with different challenges to their forbearer. Past success does not breed future capabilities. Old markets are being displaced by new geographical and technological markets.

Human capital is forced to confront these changes in real-time, technology redundancy is the greatest threat to western civilisation since the industrial revolution. Jobs are lost and consumers are effectively removed from the value chain in one fell swoop – no job, no money, no disposable income. The rise of the machines that ‘take our jobs’ ultimately lead to an absence of customers – the machines wont be buying a mobile phone any day soon.

Too often a business will become absorbed in a moment of success without realising that we do not live in a static universe – there is always change. Therefore to be looking, learning, adapting and enhancing your commercial offering is a way to ensure that you remain relevant. Furthermore it allows a business time to adapt their business model to accommodate change and what comes with that is time for the workforce to adapt their working styles to move with these changes.

I once had a meeting with several highly positioned retail executives and we spent some time discussing his topic. They asked me, if I were in their position where dwindling footfall in store is reducing overall consumer spending – what would I suggest they do? My answer was swift and tongue in cheek – Start selling lubricant, robots need lubricant!

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