Jos de Vries The Retail Company: How to keep up in a quickly changing retail world

By Dr. Alexis Mavrommatis, Retail Strategy Consultant for Jos de Vries The Retail Company

Every single day, we, the human species, ask ourselves: “where is this world going?”. As far as I’m concerned, the answer is simple; I have no idea, but wherever it is, it’s going there at a breakneck pace! Likewise, in the world of consumerism, we no longer live in an era of consumers but rather in the era of “prosumers” and “transumers”.

A “prosumer” is the fusion between a consumer who is also a producer seeking to sell the goods or services he/she has produced or owns to other consumers. Take the eBay phenomenon, for example, or even more surprisingly, sports retailer Decathlon, where second hand products are being sold in the store!

“Transumers”, on the other hand, are consumers driven by a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions. So-called “pop-up stores” are springing out of the ground to cater to these new demands, as well as traditional luxury retailers renting their goods instead of selling them (e.g. Beg, Borrow or Steal).

So how do you keep up with this quickly changing world? While everybody seeks their answers in that magical word, Innovation, I believe there is no innovation without creativity. Generating innovative products or services requires a preliminary phase, namely the creation of new ideas that could be (and not should be) converted into a final product. Unfortunately, many companies today tend to overlook or ignore this fundamental preface to Innovation as they consider it a waste of time. I understand this preoccupation, as it has been statistically proven that only 1 out of every 89 new ideas is actually converted into a “possible solution”. But it is so easy to do! There are many techniques that can help you generate new ideas. Take SCAMPER, for example. This technique, developed by Bob Eberle, is a checklist that helps you to think of changes you can make to an existing product in order to create a new one. You can use these changes either as direct suggestions or as starting points for lateral thinking. SCAMPER stands for:

S - Substitute – What can I substitute i.e. components, materials, people
C - Combine – What can I combine with other assemblies or services, integrate
A - Adapt – What can I adapt/alter, change function, use part of another element
M - Modify – What can I increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes (e.g. colour)
P - Put to another use – What can I put to other use
E - Eliminate – What can I remove, i.e. elements, simplify, reduce to core functionality
R - Reverse – What can I turn inside out or upside down, also use of Reversal.

So go on, try it with any product, service or idea you have in your mind right now. Just ask yourself these 7 simple questions and see where it takes you… and remember one thing: leaders of today anticipate the demands of tomorrow, for which you first must be creative and then innovative.

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