Innovation is Energy
Retail requires constant energy to move forward, but the energy that fueled it yesterday is now causing it to stall. To be a growing retailer, restaurant chain, or any experience brand in this chaotic world is difficult; there is always need for a new, more powerful offering.
Why? Shopping is ever-changing. Shoppers evolve with new digital tools and more access to information, constantly redefining what provides value. Technology is changing the game, with Silicon Valley not only being the hub of technology, but the center of disruptive business models. New competition and emerging channels are stealing share that may never be recaptured unless retailers embrace change, innovate, and adopt a Future Focus.
Future Focused retailers do more than just resist the status quo. They prepare for future retail trends by innovating experiences around what matters to drive choice and create enduring relationships. To be proactive and strategic, where should they focus their innovation? We believe that Future Focused retailers are fueled by continuously seeking innovative ways to be Easy, Insightful, Empowering, Surprising, and Memorable.
These five elements are the engine of successful retail, and where shopper relationships are either built or abandoned.
When complexity is expected, simplicity is rewarded. Being Future Focused means reducing steps – finding easier ways to do old things. Technology provides the means to revolutionize easy, making it crucial to understand where and why to apply it.
Being easy isn’t easy. Innovating a simpler way requires intimacy with the shopper in their world. It takes understanding their tasks and the pain-points they encounter, overcoming them with new approaches that make your organization uncomfortable: the perfect catalyst for change.
Being easy pays. Research shows consumers switch for easier options. According to a study by the Customer Contact Council “delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does.”
Future Focused retailers know what shoppers want before they do, understanding shoppers as individuals, not simply as demographics or segments. Great design requires a human-centered, insight-driven process – listening and responding, not merely observing.
Harnessing the power of big data provides a way to be hyper-targeted with offers, products, tailored experiences, and enables rich one-on-one interactions. The amount of shopper data available today is staggering, and only increasing. Knowing how to use it to design experiences, communicate strategically, and build relationships requires fresh thinking.
Studies show that consumers make decisions based on emotion over reason and stick with routine over risk. Powerful insights allow Future Focused brands to win their emotions with empathy and intervene on routines with more compelling alternatives.
Amplifying efforts, maximizing control; Future Focused retailers give shoppers superpowers they can’t live without. Whether its finding a great product or great purpose, customer experiences must emphasize the role a retailer plays to achieve something better.
Innovations that overcomes a limitation – compress or extend time, multiply resources, or amplify force are always met with appeal. Only today, the pace is faster, and the incremental gains are harder. Digital provides application of these fundamentals in ways that have never before been possible.
Brands that deliver on promises (best price, most selection, freshest products, or delivering in “30 minutes or less”) and successfully frame these benefits in relatable stories will win.
Everybody loves winners, and winners don’t rest. Both “born digital” and mature retailers must define the future through a pioneering spirit. From innovative ways to craft experiences, to new ways to interact and communicate, retailers must stay fresh to stay relevant.
In a market full of choice, boredom is intolerable. Retailers must stay fresh with new services and ways to shop. With spaces that change and new stories to be told, retail experiences must reinforce great merchandising and provide buzz that builds business today and fortifies concepts for tomorrow.
Surprise often comes from innovation, but it can also be the goal. When a brand is Future Focused it frequently asserts itself as a leader worthy of its reputation, winning new business and being a point of reinforcement throughout the customer decision journey.
In a landscape of predictable store experiences, Future Focused retailers have to provide something worth remembering. Our brains are biased to store negative experiences, so retailers must work extra hard to enable positive emotions to dominate. Retail experiences that deliver memories worth repeating require understanding the shopper’s values and priorities and give them a reason to remain a part of their life.
Memory is where the future leverages the past to streamline choices. Research by Nobel Prize winning psychologist D. Kahneman shows that we remember experiences differently than the way we experience them. Design often emphasizes real time what is “happening,” when it should also invest in creating the experience that is to be remembered.
Lasting memories should be made as shoppers experience a store, driven by how they interact with their family or friends while inside. Ultimately, we remember and share experiences that enrich us and make us feel important.
OWNING THE FUTURE
The future can reveal itself if you know where to look. We can actually steal its thunder if we pay attention and act. At ChangeUp, we are passionately future focused. Designing retail strategies, brands, and experiences are what we do, and in order to move beyond the rhetoric we know the discipline required. We help retailers invent the future versus simply reacting to it.
We have a toolkit for creating Future Focused retail – uncovering truths through insights and data analytics, harnessing new technology, leveraging and integrating physical and digital experiences, and applying human creativity. Be innovative. Own the future!