Using Agile to Drive your Retail Transformation (Part 1 of Agile Blog Series)

With store closures, bankruptcies, and acquisitions still big news; it’s not surprising that the media continues to paint a dark and gloomy future for traditional retail. However, in reality, the retail industry isn’t headed towards a so-called “retail apocalypse.” Instead, we are undergoing the most exciting technologically fueled transformation in history! In a true survival of the fittest fashion, only those retailers who are ready to optimize their technology to meet the ever-increasing customer demands will survive and thrive during today’s “Retail Transformation.”

What exactly is this “Retail Transformation?”

According to the Business Dictionary, transformation is “in an organizational context, a process of profound and radical change that orients an organization in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness.” Therefore, Retail Transformation can best be described as a disruptive collection of technologically driven changes that are redefining the retail industry. In the past, the storefront was the main interaction customers had with a brand. So, their primary goal was to develop strategies to increase foot traffic in stores which would then increase profits. However, technological advances have completely redesigned the retail environment; shifting the main goal of increasing customer count to a by-product of their new goal – enhancing the customer’s shopping experience.

Thanks to mobile devices, the customer shopping experience now begins before the customer even enters a physical store. E-commerce platforms accessed via internet browsers on computers, tablets, and mobile devices provide consumers with the ability to view product details, reviews, compare prices and check item availability before stepping foot in a store. According to Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations report, digital interactions influence 75% of consumers’ pre-store visits and are leveraged in 46% of in-store shopping experiences.

Consumers not only want to be able to easily view information on demand, they expect the information to be accurate. Consumers now want the ability to buy anywhere, ship anywhere, pick up anywhere, and return anywhere. Buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) is now just table stakes with customers. Thus, it’s no surprise that those retailers who fail to upgrade/optimize their enterprise systems to support the ever-increasing list of customer demands will mostly likely not survive.

Agile to the Rescue

Although Agile has been around for more than 15 years, many people still don’t fully understand what it means to be Agile. For starters, Agile is an approach to project management that focuses on incrementally delivering small chunks of working software to end users, so that they can evaluate if the new functionality is both useful and desired. By delivering small chunks at a time, Agile allows organizations to be better prepared to quickly respond to changing customer demands. Agile’s emphasis on continuously gathering customer feedback for inclusion in upcoming functionality allows retailers to ensure that they’re always working on the most valuable functionality for the business. Retailers can also benefit from Agile’s “fail fast” approach where the idea is to test out an initiative (whether it be new product, strategy or functionality) as quickly as possible, so that if the initiative doesn’t go very well, it’s easy for the organization to swiftly course correct. Retailers who wish to transform their business must be prepared to invest in revamping their technology with the end goal of enhancing the customer experience.

Stay tuned to our Agile blog series to find out how retailers can start utilizing Agile to help them optimize their Retail Transformation. Please feel free to share any comments, questions, or concerns you may have below. We’d love to hear from you.

Best,

Hellen

Hellen Ospina

Hellen is a Senior Consultant with BRP who specializes in project management and methodologies. Her passion for the Agile methodology in particular has allowed her to contribute successfully to a variety of Strategy, Selection & Implementation projects during her career across Store Systems, Merchandising Systems, and Clienteling solutions. As a certified Scrum Master and Agile Project Manager, Hellen has become a thought leader in how best to adapt Agile approaches in a flexible fashion for both project teams and clients.

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