I was recently talking with Terry Jones, Founding CEO of Travelocity and Co-Founder of Kayak, who shared an interesting perspective on disruption, “My innovation is your disruption. It is only disruption because you didn’t do it!” This concept to me is at the heart of the transformation of retail we are all experiencing.
To discuss this further, on March 4, 2019 at the major retail conference Shoptalk in Las Vegas, I moderated a panel of four retail leaders to shed light on how companies can become innovators. The panel was: Sharon John, CEO, Build-A-Bear Workshop; Amit Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, 1-800-Flowers.com; Paulo Carvao, General Manager IBM – US Retail, Consumer Goods & Travel Transportation; Kate Gutmann, Chief Sales and Solutions Officer UPS, including 5,000 The UPS Stores.
While many significant ideas were shared, here are four that depending your vantage point can drive disruption or radical innovation.
Rule # 1: Create new ways to connect with your customers
Sharon Price John, President and CEO at Build-A-Bear Workshop, shared how the company created a new way to reach their customers. “We know music has been an important component of the Build-A-Bear Workshop experience. So we found a really innovative and fun way to connect with our community. In October 2018 we started Build-A-Bear Radio. It is a new streaming radio station on Dash Radio where we like to say, ‘the fun is always on’. We mix hit songs with original music and we already have hundreds of thousands of listeners a day!”
Rule # 2: Think of big ways to truly help your customer succeed with their own business
Kate Gutmann talked about a game changer the company recently launched for their small and medium-sized business customers. “Many customers across UPS are small and medium sized businesses who want to compete with larger players in their industry,” Gutmann said. “They face the complexities of managing their brands across their own websites and often numerous online marketplaces and other channels. With very few people, they have to juggle multiple logins, labor, packing, shipping, tracking sales, and managing inventory. That’s a lot to handle when you’re a small business and need to be efficient and flawless as you focus on the experience you provide to customers. UPS changed all of that by introducing a new service called UPS eFulfillment. Our customers can immediately connect to 21 online marketplaces via this software platform, and UPS takes care of the rest. It’s turnkey. It allows small businesses to market at scale with a fully managed presence on marketplaces including eBay, Wal-Mart, Etsy, Amazon and many others. It is another example of UPS working to help our customers win in the market through the powerful solutions we offer.
Rule # 3 Engage your culture to learn faster so they can be more agile to deliver for customers
Amit Shah at 1-800 flowers coined a new term “LQ” which means learning quotient. He shared, “Years ago the most important ability was someone’s IQ or intelligence quotient, years later it became EQ meaning emotional quotient. In today’s rapidly changing digital market the key to success is how quickly people can learn. We understand there is deep-seated organizational and collective muscle memory, and the way to advance is to build an organization of people who have high LQs. To summarize, we believe learning leads earnings.”
Rule # 4 Data is the next natural resource
Paulo Carvao from IBM shared, “As a company we are making a big bet. We are betting on our clients and how they will leverage data to transform. That’s why concepts like trust and data & insights ownership are critical as we move to a world that is more data driven with artificial intelligence infused in business processes. All of our technology investments are to make sure that we’re accelerating our clients’ businesses. We are infusing trust and transparency into everything that we do.”
Carvao continued explaining how business and technology are now coming together, “ So, how do we bring these two, business and technology, together – two worlds, that historically have behaved in different ways – so that they can innovate in a more agile way, help transform the business faster, and keep pace with the accelerated change in the industry.”
… In summary, I can think of just one retailer in America who is 200 years old, Brooks Brothers. I remember when I was fortunate to interview the CEO Claudio Del Vecchio and he shared what probably is the core reason Brooks Brothers has had such incredible longevity, “Innovation is a very important value for Brooks Brothers and has always been.”
Date: April 04, 2019