Published 02. Nov. 2020
Magical Journeys Towards Digital Retail
In an increasingly competitive retail environment, digital transformation is, indeed, fast becoming a matter of survival for retailers and brands. In this article, John Brahim (CEO & AI Business Architect at Maistering B.V.) shares his insights and knowledge about new technological roles, innovative leadership today, and what established leaders must learn from visionary leadership.
Over the past decade, the retail landscape has experienced eroding margins, the growth of e-commerce, declining visits to malls, the success of low-cost retailers, and changing consumer behavior/needs. As if that was not enough, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full development. While many once-leading retailers have disappeared and more brands are in peril, often already since before the pandemic, others manage to survive, and some even continued to thrive.
What drives innovation in retail today
Retailers need to understand that what drove the retail sector in the past differs from what drives it today. For John Brahim (CEO & AI Business Architect at Maistering BV), innovation in the global retail sector is partially AI-driven, highly virtual, and experiential. The pandemic fuels the fire, and strategic choices are imposing themselves much faster than expected. The real challenge to digital retail innovation is making good choices that are executable at the right speed.
Tips for managing innovation and resulting change
Change begets innovation and vice versa. Consumers now shop more mindfully and cost-consciously for local, sustainable, and high-value brands. They also consider their health, safety, and financial status often before making purchases. It is vital to take note of these trend changes to innovate effectively. Subsequently, Brahim understands that leaders can better manage growth and innovation through the following methods:
- Adopt and prioritize a “digital-first” approach to retail.
- Identify a portfolio of digital journeys from a mid-term perspective.
- Embrace new principles to orchestrate those journeys.
Fostering innovation through leadership
Innovation comes from everywhere. Leaders must possess the ability to tap into current digital trends and understand how the covid-19 pandemic influences them.
They must also understand the changing consumer behavior in a digital world, having strong convictions on purpose, authenticity, value proposition, and business models.
A handful of global platforms dominate the world; thus, a retail leader must feel the digital consumers’ pulse to lead the race in digital innovation.
New digital technological roles in leadership innovation
To innovate in the digital world, one must practice a digital way of working. Get handsy with mobile technologies, conversational AI, and next-gen collaboration. Brahim states that leaders need to embrace digital technologies themselves and re-think management as they formerly knew it. Partly because it is hard to modernize businesses if one is old-fashioned and because the speed of digital innovation is murderous, requiring an acceleration in decision-making & execution.
Innovative leaders have many parallel running business journeys. Each journey with a different impact and objective. Such leaders have to keep in mind local sensitivities and maintain constant contact with their teams. The game aims to gather insights and materialize propositions that lead towards higher customer delight and profitability.
Maistering BV understood this and created the unique platform Master Collections. It addresses this topic by providing leaders the ability to run magical business journeys with essence, beauty, and impact in a way that classical retail systems simply cannot.
Customers, partners, and other stakeholders roles in innovation
Innovation today has become a collaborative, instantaneous, and solution-driven process. It is about undertaking experimental journeys with customers and partners in joyful, swift, rich, and impactful ways.
– John Brahim
Retailers and suppliers must engage in multiple collaborative journeys to reduce costs and enhance the experience. Both stakeholders must also learn how to speed up collaborative innovation.
What established leaders can learn from new innovative leadership
The retail sector in the post-COVID-19 world will undoubtedly find itself with an accelerated shift from bricks to clicks. There will be surges in AI implementation from demand forecast to supply optimization and cognitive digital consumer experiences.
Established retail leaders must adopt two things from digital leaders. The acceptance that software eats the world and the unconditional willingness to speed things up. The Holy Grail for established retail leaders is to undertake collaborative business journeys that combine speed, sophistication, and common sense feasibility. Established retail leaders still have unparalleled strengths in the latter.
Future trends in innovation
Although we continue to witness unprecedented change and innovation today, the real revolution is still to come. Brahim postulates that artificial intelligence (AI) will completely change the connection between consumers, retailers, producers, and the product portfolio itself. Soon we will see a whole new world of contactless collaboration, conversational interfaces, cognitive abilities, machine learning and adapting algorithms, predictive software, applied robotics, and next best suggestions reaching the consumer in a myriad of ways.
Business leaders will learn how to adopt AI technologies to solve new problems, create new ways of working, orchestrate magical journeys, and mastering their retail leadership art. As digital retail transformation accelerates worldwide, consumers’ expectations at each stage of the customer journey – be it prepurchase research or browsing, the shopping experience itself, or post-purchase experience sharing – are changing.
The adoption of breakthrough technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain will help brands and retailers address these changing consumer expectations in a timely and effective manner, thereby deepening customer engagement.
Master Collections, as a new category platform, offers leaders the perfect toolset to engage in digital journeys and naturally fosters the synergies with C-Suite peers and others that require guidance and empowerment as we master digital retail.