Director of Client Services
What retail innovation is right and when is the right time to innovate? There are circumstances that call for major, game-changing shifts in thought. But there are other situations that work better for the shopper – and for the retailer – as a series of gradual improvements over time.
For instance, to recover from deep discounting practices that devalued your brand during a recession, significant innovation might be required to convince shoppers to willingly return to paying higher prices for merchandise they’ve been buying at more than 50% off. But if your retail environment just needs a more shopper-friendly environment, then perhaps some gradual improvements are more appropriate.
When it comes to innovation at the point of sale, there are two paths to consider: the Game-Changing Innovation Platform or the Continual Retail Improvement Platform. Each has different advantages and each places different demands on your talents and resources.
Let’s say your problem has to do with your retail environment and its effects on the shopping experience and bottom-line sales. Shoppers can’t find what they need, sales associates are not providing information that encourages and closes sales or shoppers are not enjoying their retail experience – and they’re not making the decision to buy.
- Game-Changing Innovation Solution: Redesign the store layout to create an intelligently navigable environment for your shoppers. Transform every department, aisle, shelf and section into a virtual sales associate that functions independently of the staff.
- Continual Retail Improvement Solution: Improve the shopper experience by improving the sales associate experience. Focus on creating an effective sales associate support and improvement system throughout the store.
While the ultimate impact of the game-changing solution may promise higher returns in the long run, a continual, behind-the-scenes improvement implementation is easier, less costly, and, most likely, a shorter time horizon solution.
The key is balancing the demands that the innovation makes on your resources and the time it takes to generate an effect with the degree of impact it is likely to have over time. Eventually there will be inescapable game-changer solution moments, but there is much to be done even at the “lower” levels of innovation—and those solutions can be equally as effective in their own right.
Making the decision as to how to innovate – or not to innovate – will have a significant impact on your business and your brand. If you make a drastic change out of the blue, you risk alienating your loyal shoppers. But if you resist improvements, you risk becoming old, stale and irrelevant.
So be bold – and choose wisely.