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Innovating the Ordinary #23 Innovation Newsletter

Companies face continuing challenges that demand fresh perspectives on questions such as: How do I grow my organization? How can our organization disrupt the space we compete in? What strategies and concepts will enable us to change or improve the consumer experience?


Finding new ways to fuel top line growth requires a bold mindset, plus the commitment and resources needed to vault mature organizations beyond their comfort zone into the realm of new ideas and exploration.

Looking for new ways to do old things—tweaking today’s products and services—is a cornerstone of innovation. Mundane products and processes can hold great promise for rewarding disruption and change. The challenge is to imagine the unimaginable and look for new opportunities where none seem to exist.

This certainly can be said of processes ranging from the grocery buying experience to manufacturing, health care and other arenas. Consumers’ habits, preferences and expectations may have developed over generations. Yet innovative, non-traditional approaches that provide value—as perceived by the customer— create new marketplace opportunities and potential for future growth. How can we improve and reshape our future?


The Buying Process

Consider the grocery buying process as an example of innovation’s potential. Imagine what this innovation might look like. Journey beyond traditional product and pricing factors, looking to the buying process itself. What lies beyond the traditional concept of “fresh, convenient and local?” How can new thinking provide consumers something they value even more than today’s supermarket specials? How can novel systems offer them highly prized value, such as time—providing new options for leisure, work and everyday living?

Here are two examples of grocery buying approaches that are innovative and successful, thanks to their ability to satisfy consumers and advance top line growth for the stores using them.

Home Plus (formerly known as Tesco) targeted the number one grocery chain slot in South Korea. The company had fewer stores than its main competitor but wanted to reach the number one spot without opening additional stores. After researching its customers, Home Plus found that most South Koreans’ work schedules leave little time for shopping. The retailer reasoned that if it could find a way to bring shopping to busy customers, it would be a win-win situation paying significant dividends; and pay it did.

Home Plus put up large billboards resembling stocked grocery store shelves in busy subway stations, complete with QR codes. See something you like or need? Take a picture of that product’s QR code with the Home Plus app, and it puts the item in a virtual shopping cart for you. Select what you need, click “purchase,” and receive the items at your door with delivery scheduled a short time after you return home. Thanks to this brilliant campaign, sales increased 130% in three months, propelling Home Plus to number one in online sales and closing the gap for in-store purchases with its leading competitor. (See a video here.)

Another example reflecting creativity in reexamining the grocery customer’s experience is Phillips, provider of an LED (light-emitting diode) positioning system that sends out a signal using visible light communication (VLC) technology in a store equipped with this system. This technology acts like an indoor GPS (global positioning system). According to Phillips, readily available information about specials and other grocery items provides a more interactive and personalized experience for customers with smart devices. France’s Carrefour, a colossal hypermarket in Lille, was the first to sign up for the program. The retailer provided its customers with a unique, convenient way to navigate store aisles, and also saved more than 50% on the store’s energy bills. (See a video here).
 


Reimagine “What If” Possibilities, Create New Capabilities

Creative thinking and effective strategies to apply novel approaches—as reflected in these grocery retailing examples—offer the surest path to long-term success, whether you’re in manufacturing, retailing or services. Are you inspired by such unique ideas and methods for creating new revenue opportunities? Envision “what if” possibilities—ways to make your customers’ lives and work easier. Even small, incremental changes can pay dividends for those who can imagine the possibilities.

Regardless of your industry and the maturity of your processes and customer relationships, few are as ingrained as the grocery shopping experience. Innovative grocers’ success in finding new ways to grow their top line through innovation, for example, offers encouragement and inspiration.


As you rethink your possibilities for future market success, consider:

*Reimagine how you serve customers, not simply what products and services you offer. Can you find better ways to meet their preferences and need for convenience, faster service and customized offerings?

*Good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere. Create and continually enhance open communications channels among all levels within your organization and with your customers. Benchmark against successful companies, whether they’re in your industry or another arena; for example, one manufacturer learned how to improve factory flow and reduce cycle time–creating uniquely fast customer service in its industry–through a visit to a nearby popular restaurant (close-at-hand supplies and shorter work tables enabled agile processes).

*Develop new capabilities for daily improvement/change among all your associates, whether they’re in the executive suite or on the factory floor. Such strength, shared enterprise-wide, can help to ensure that great new ideas not only surface, but that they can be implemented and sustained over time. In turn, these successes will fuel your next-generation innovation and top line growth.

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