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New Ways of working

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2018 – It’s a New Year – with New opportunities!

At this time of year, we’re all heading back to the news of how figures are looking from the vital 4th quarter of 2017. Typically we’ve had articles that don’t fill us with hope. According to the BBC sales of non-food items grew at the slowest pace since records began as families chose days out over shopping, the British Retail Consortium has said. Looking at the KPMG/Ipsos Retail think tank article, the UK’s retail industry will flatline at best in 2018 – and many shops should brace themselves for a “fight to survive”. Amazon dominated retail news headlines in 2017 and entered into nearly every retail category, with it’s best day ever on Cyber Monday. Along with Cyber Monday, Black Friday impacted Christmas holiday sales along with online retailers ramping up their pricing and delivery offers to customers, with ease, convenience and compelling product.

So how does your business look at the challenges ahead? Improving your costs and margins? What are the innovations that you want to focus on?

Deborah Weinswig from Forbes recently talked about the opportunities that have resulted from the challenging retail landscape. One of those was connected to agility within new ways of working, some from Merges and acquisitions & what ‘new relationships’ look like – particularly with Start-ups “… this has been a trend we’ve seen, Retailers are discovering that many startups are creating innovative solutions that help drive top-line and bottom-line revenue growth and increase traffic.”

These partnerships have long been talked about. WGSN in 2015 talked about how retailers can speed up innovation by partnering with start-ups.

“In a world of rapid technological advancement, UK retailers are striving to keep pace with the needs and expectations of their fast-changing customers. Working with start-ups is, therefore, becoming an increasingly popular route for retailers looking to innovate, and the benefits of successful collaborations are much lauded.

“ “Their creativity, lack of fear, nimbleness and ability to pivot means you [as a retailer] are tapping into an innovation stream that is challenging for a larger corporate,” says Daniel Bobroff, previously the investment director at online retailer, currently CEO of Coded Futures and a long-time advocate of working with start-ups. “The ability to disrupt your own thinking is no longer a nice-to-have, but an essential,” he adds.” Within this same conversation Fred Soneya, co-founder of investor Haatch notes

“A start-up tends to achieve in weeks what generally cannot be matched by large organisations or internal teams, both in terms of focus and scale,”

As part of our conversations with teams, we looked at Innovation very carefully, culturally and also from an ROI point of view, as this is absolutely essential for the conversation to begin. To read more on this topic read more from an industry expert’s eyes: Innovation & Open Architecture Systems or our piece Fear of Innovation. Both of these articles discuss the technical and more importantly the cultural step that companies and teams have to be very honest about before taking the bold and exciting step of making real changes in how they work.

WGSN identified the top 10 Tips for working with Start-ups:

Daniel Bobroff, former investment director,, CEO of Coded Futures

1. Integration can often be one of the biggest hurdles with start-up/retailer collaborations, but it’s the job of the retailer to facilitate this. Build some type of lab as a more efficient route to determine a return on investment.

2. Make it someone’s focus from within the team to identify and engage with the start-up ecosystem. Remember that innovation is a team endeavour, so build these bridges internally.

3. Nearly all ideas start off as bad ideas so be prepared to iterate. The quicker you do this, the cheaper the process will ultimately become.

Jonathan Wall, e-commerce director, Shop Direct

4. Review your on-boarding process for new partners and streamline it for start-ups. Don’t lock them down into legal and procurement details.

5. Understand where a start-up’s [technology] product sits in its lifecycle and how much you can shape it – or not – going forward.

6. Be fair in your success criteria for writing a proof of concept and realise that working with start-ups can sometimes be a win on its own, as it spurs new ideas within your business.

7. Time is a major consideration. Every time you ask a start-up partner a question or make a request, the start-up will often have to create the answer or response for the first time. Ask yourself if you actually require the answer or could the start-up instead be spending that time improving their product?

Simon Harrow, CEO, Elevaate

8. Look to understand your start-up partner and ensure they are solving a problem for you.

9. Research their background to ensure they have credibility.

10. Understand their work ethic. They will work hard to deliver, execute quickly if it’s a ‘yes’ and learn from the experience fast.

So with that in mind why not find out more about our digital, visual product development tool & how it can help improve efficiencies across your processes by keeping the product in Full Focus or how creative engagement can be improved or find out more from our whitepaper.

Whatever you do we’d love to hear from you and what you think innovation looks like for you.

Title image of street art Photo by Oliver Cole  and “Risk” artwork photo by Meriç Dağlı both on Unsplash
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