Justin Mennen

Nov 01, 2017

Retailers are in the midst of a fundamental shift. Driven by the need to create exceptional customer experiences and deliver against increasing competition, retailers are turning to technological innovations. According to a recent Accenture report, 88 percent of retail and IT executives anticipate the pace of technology change will increase at an unprecedented rate over the next three years.

And though retailers have already invested huge sums into technology, Gartner has shown that only 2 percent are truly harvesting results from these digital efforts.

Clearly, the pressure is building to excite customers. To do that, retailers must implement new technologies within budget, and keep existing channels profitable. So what can you do to create a better experience and design your digital future?

Leveraging Creativity For Growth And Innovation

Fortunately, a proven approach is already helping retailers develop more creative solutions and build customer centric experiences – Design Thinking. Broadly speaking, Design Thinking is a structured framework that focuses on solutions and actions through empathy by having a deep understanding of what the customer truly wants. It leverages your creative vision for growth and innovation through a proven and repeatable problem solving approach that any business can use to develop new experiences based on real-world experiments, user feedback, and prototyping, giving you the best chance to create a competitive advantage.

The Design Thinking methodology has been proven by some of the world’s biggest brands across industries. It’s the reason so many people pay a premium on goods such as coffee, laptops, and running shoes. It’s how major banks have acquired new customers, and how the simple task of mopping was reinvented. And it’s how these design-led companies outperformed the S&P 500® by 211% over the last 10 years.

So how can taking a Design Thinking approach help you achieve your digital transformation? I’ll share four benefits, and demonstrate some of the steps that you can take to start incorporating the framework into your innovation process.

Benefit 1) Empathy - Truly Understand Your Customers

Customer experience is everything, and creating a good one means you need to understand what your customers actually want. You can come up with countless ideas, but if they don’t meet your customers’ needs or create delightful experiences, the solutions won’t be embraced, and therefore, won’t be effective. Through ethnographic research such as interviews, observations, intercepts, and shop-alongs, Design Thinking takes a human-centric approach that allows you to build empathy for your customers and truly get to know them. When you discover what motivates their decisions, you can use that information to create better experiences.

Benefit 2) Discover More Creative Solutions

Innovating can be difficult, and thinking outside the box is a lot harder than it sounds. Oftentimes, the issue begins with how the discussion is framed. When you’re trying to solve a specific problem, you’re naturally narrowing the scope of the discussion and discouraging creativity. The Design Thinking framework differs because it shapes the problem as an end goal to be achieved.

When you begin with a deep understanding of what the customer wants, you encourage people to broaden the scope of their thinking, making new, creative ideas possible. Through two-day workshops, relevant stakeholders from various disciplines share as many ideas as they can think of while building off one another, and then filter these ideas against the customer jobs to be done and the desired business outcomes to see which are the most viable.

Benefit 3) Innovate More Rapidly

Speed is a huge advantage in today’s competitive retail industry. The typical innovation process, which can take months or even years to complete, is simply not fast enough in today’s rapidly changing retail environment. Leveraging the framework of Design Thinking, you can go from inception to deliverable prototypes, typically high-fidelity digital output with personas, journey maps, wireframes, clickable prototypes, vision videos, and feasibility assessments, in as little as 20 working days.

Benefit 4) Innovate With Less Risk

Implementing a new technology or customer experience across hundreds of physical and digital locations is expensive. Getting it wrong can be a big financial risk from which recovery can be difficult. Design Thinking mitigates this risk and uncertainty through a structured framework that focuses on aligning innovations with both business and customer objectives and includes rapid, iterative testing. It means new technologies are integrated into your larger retail strategy, and have been demonstrated to be viable through testing and prototyping.

Leverage Design Thinking To Build Your Digital Future

Design Thinking is a powerful way to approach innovation because it encourages you to think from the customer’s perspective to create measurable value. At CompuCom, we use Design Thinking to help retailers navigate the complexities and challenges of digital transformation, achieve better results more rapidly and mitigate risks. By aligning with business objectives and basing ideas off of your customers’ real needs, you can build your digital future and create a competitive advantage for years to come.

Could Design Thinking work for your retail operation? We’ll be at NRF Big 2018 demonstrating this methodology and the success it could bring you. Contact us to book a booth tour to get all your questions answered about this process and how we can have you on the road to success in as little as 20 business days.

The content and opinions posted on this blog and any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not those of CompuCom.

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