The store of the future is both flexible and hybrid

Thursday 9 March 2017


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The store of the future is both flexible and hybrid

Thirteen percent annual growth, 455.3 billion euros turnover in Europe alone and a constantly growing market share: e-commerce is coming of age! But what are the consequences for the physical store? The short answer is that it must continue to be valued, although in combination with e-commerce. For this purpose a new vision needs to be developed, which goes beyond turnover per square metre. Also, opportunities must be seized to create new kinds of experiences and new ways to shape the entire customer journey, both online and offline.

The market changes at high speed, so in order to be able to serve today's customers, the store must be flexible - to the extent that it can be adapted to the seasons, promotional periods and more. Even during the course of a day, it should be possible to partly or completely adapt the store in order to respond to demand at that moment.  How does that work? First, by literally creating more space. In addition to the 'fixed' section of the store, a part should be kept vacant that can rapidly be equipped to accommodate new themes, experiences, interactions and campaigns. Campaigns and the webshop must continue to amaze as well. The whole concept must remain flexible and capable of changing themes, just as magazines do. This way, customers will keep coming. They are curious about the experience that awaits them this time around, because the store seems to understand exactly what they need at that particular moment.

This is quite a challenge in terms of concept development. The retailer, the designer, the architect, the strategist, and the marketer, they all need to dare to change their existing approach. After all, the one thing that doesn't work anymore is rigid concepts that can be implemented and rolled out unchanged for years on end. As a creative industry, we must go searching for flexible and creative ideas to make and keep concepts more interesting, without burdening the retailer with astronomical personnel costs.

Agile and Scrum: hype or happening?
In the old days, project management moved towards its final objective like an oil tanker. Market changes, customer demand and technical developments were often overlooked. What’s more, oil tankers are notoriously difficult to steer, making this modus operandi completely unsuited for today's retail market.

New ways of working can break down existing structures in which people do not collaborate enough and remain stuck in their own 'silo'. All too frequently, the answer is: 'That's not my responsibility.' The designer doesn't deal with realisation, while the manager doesn't dare to think creatively. Innovation stalls.

To make this change, new ways of working are needed, such as Agile and Scrum. Banks, including ING from the Netherlands, work exclusively this way, and terms like 'stand-up' are mentioned more often during happy hour than the football results. But what do these methods mean to us, the concept developers? How do they make us more flexible?

  • With the Agile approach, one works visually, with a flexible strategy, in multidisciplinary teams and in short, cyclical processes. Steering becomes much easier, enabling you to continuously adapt to agile clients and markets.
  • The Scrum method provides even more practical tools to put this way of working into practice. Multi-disciplinary Scrum teams work in short, clearly defined steps ('sprints') towards the end goal, set clear sub-goals per step, and discuss matters in quick 'stand-up' meetings and short evaluations.

Some elements of these working methods are indispensible for the creative industry. The development of concepts - from 'magic idea' to actual realisation - is only possible in a multi-disciplinary team. Together we continuously test the concept against the brand, the customer and the market, both within the design team and with the client. The aim is to pull together and to remain constantly critical of each step you make as a team. With such an approach you learn a lot and continue to develop yourself. Naturally, this also means that you must remain open to criticism; only then can the collective end product rise above the original idea.

Pick and mix! 
What’s great about these working methods is that you can pick elements from them that specifically align with your work, your organisation or your industry. So, get inspired, choose what works for you, combine methods and skip anything unnecessary. Unlimited creativity, based on design thinking, and the streamlined Scrum processes complement each other perfectly. Pick and mix! The goal is not to 'scrum for the sake of scrumming'. Instead, you want to give shape to innovation and to develop new flexible concepts that keep surprising and that haven't been seen before. 

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JosDeVries The Retail Company BV
Safariweg 6-11
3605 MA Maarssen, P.O. Box 1194
NL-3600 BD Maarssen
The Netherlands
tel. : +31(0)346 - 563764
info@josdevries.eu

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