Create an innovative environment for your team

Innovation is the process of making something new and of value. 

When we think of innovation in retailing, two things typically come to mind: (1) new products and services; and (2) new ways of doing things. This may be as a result of new ideas or perhaps new applications of old ideas.

In today’s competitive marketplace, all retailers need to be innovative and to evolve their processes and products continuously. If you are not continually changing and improving, your competition is, and you are falling behind.

Within your team, you will need to continually look for ways to improve processes and procedures within your store, and this will require you to create an environment where innovation is encouraged. This could be as simple as 10 minutes of each team meeting devoted to ‘new ideas.’ Innovation is about understanding the difference between getting better and being different. And most companies are built for progress – not innovation.

As mass competition is driving retail margins downward, the only way for a company to build true resilience is to    1. Do things differently than they did before. 2. Do things differently to their competitors.

Retail innovation usually comes from new concepts or new players entering the market, so as a rule, retailers can sometimes fail to very innovating within their own business. This is because retailers manage so much detail and are always trying to control processes, systems, and activities. It is easier, simpler and quicker for retailers to stick to the way it has always been done than to take a risk on trying something new.

Although your organisation plays a very influential part in innovation and the implementation of new ideas and procedures, it is often the store team that starts the process off with their daily interaction with the operations, people, and customers within the store. It is, therefore, a vital part of your role to develop an innovative environment to encourage this.

Tips for creating an innovative environment within your store

1. Try to recruit creative, free-thinking team members

2. Encourage pro-active behaviour (initiative) from team members

3. Build an environment where it is o.k to make mistakes when you learn from them

4. Develop team learning, where everyone shares their ideas, i.e. if someone in your team were to leave the store, their knowledge would remain

5. Speed up the time it takes from idea to implementation (and then follow-up)

6. Develop incentives to increase potential ideas in the team

7. Make team members responsible for their personal growth and learning

8. Get ideas from outside the team, i.e., customers, other stores, other organisations, life experiences, etc

9. Have a strategy on how to get ideas from team members when everyone’s busy, focused on the customer and tired from being on their feet all-day

10. Set a vision and goals for your store and communicate these in a way to encourage people to be innovative

Want to learn more? Join the ARA Retail Institute’s latest workshops which looks into all things retail. 

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About ARA Retail Institute

ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au

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