Jul 18 Innovating out of the Retail Apocalypse

Disruption is happening in every industry. Retail is simply being hit the fastest and the hardest. But retail on aggregate continues to grow. Consumer confidence, in general, remains high. An apocalypse foretells of an industry that is about to be dramatically reshaped.

The reality is that retail is not going away. It is, however, changing more rapidly than we have ever seen it change. In ways that we could have never imagined.

The industry is made up of a collection of companies that by and large are being led by very talented leaders who grew up in a radically different retail reality.

A reality that was formed by incremental improvement. A reality where size and scale always won. A reality where those strengths insulated you from almost all competition, especially small competitors that nipped at your proverbial heels.

The current reality includes a flood of highly specialized players, often digital-first, with low switching costs, engaging experiences, and easy adoption. Some of those are even setting new standards for consumer expectations.

If you work in retail, you are both expected to ward off threats to your current business and transform it at the same time. There are probably more than a few things occupying your mind: seamless experiences, hyper-personalization, frictionless payment, augmented and virtual reality shopping, autonomous vehicle, and drone delivery, and a myriad of innovative options to consider. The list is endless, and the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down.

The question: how do you turn disruption into opportunity? How do you leverage your existing strengths and build new ones? How do you do this when the options are seemingly infinite?

At Rêve, we revel in these challenges and have never been more excited about helping companies in all industries answer those questions.

Specific to retail, we know that an institutional opportunity for retailers lies in shortening and accelerating their innovation cycle. Even if you’ve adopted agile processes, lean start-up methodologies, and design thinking, we believe you can (and must) test and learn faster, while reducing the risks that come with innovation. With the right mix of strategy, design, and ability to test and learn, you can increase the speed to market, ROI, and the success rate of new concepts.

Here is just one example: After a concepting phase that may have taken months, or even years, retailers spend millions of dollars in labor, non-reusable inventory, fixtures, and real-estate to build out prototype retail environments, only to tell their test customers to look beyond the cardboard and styrofoam, and “Imagine if…”. This type of testing is limited in scope and is difficult to scale. It may take months to cycle through a single concept, and when all is said and done, physical assets are discarded and written off. Often, the concept fails to move to the next stage, and precious time and money are lost. Sometimes, the concept is not tested until it is rolled out and the doors are opened to the public. Often this approach is a by-product of not having a better, faster way to test concepts so we forgo the process altogether.

Now imagine this.

At the start of a project, how would you work differently if you could virtually walk internal stakeholders through ideas, not just tell them about it?

Once your idea turns into a concept, what if you could test it instantly, iterate in real-time, and then test again?

What if you could scale your testing across time and geography?

We believe virtual reality can do this, and more, today. That’s why Rêve has partnered with Roomera, Inc., a pioneering VR company that helps companies envision the future today. As Rêve’s co-founders, we are excited to support one of the first ventures that leverage virtual reality for business. We know it’s a perfect fit for Rêve as it is our responsibility to always push the boundaries of becoming more agile, more iterative, and more co-creative with our clients.

We have shown our VR platform to some of the world’s biggest retailers, and from what we’ve seen, it’s a game-changer. Once we invite leaders to view the platform, the consistent pattern is that they think of use cases we could have never dreamed of. And that is what we love to do at Rêve, dream big!

If you’d like to explore the possibilities, please send me a note at brad@reveconsulting.com.