Make the Most of Agile Practices

Going agile isn’t easy and there are not short cuts. For businesses seeking innovation as a way to survive in the marketplace it’s a proven pathway to success. Agile is a way to accelerate business innovations while still maintaining the guard rails.

For retail enterprises, agility offers a path to become a Digital-First Technology lead organization. Becoming digital-first has helped several retailers create a unique and differentiated customer proposition. They make intelligent decisions and quick adjustments rooted in customer feedback, thus increasing their organizations’ resilience in the rapidly evolving retail environment. Agile development methods have enabled the retail industry to acquire new business capabilities quickly. The new capabilities can be harmonizing their mobile apps, websites, and stores thus providing a seamless, consistent experience for customers, or rapidly introducing new fulfillment or payment methods, rolling our new promotions or loyalty programs among others

Being agile means, you can experiment with new ideas and pick those that deliver solutions that customers really want and delivers business value. In the wake of stiff competition digital native enterprises, retailers have been able to remain competitive by adapting agile. A leading US Retailer was able to launch a conversation commerce channel in a few weeks thus creating an industry leading experience. Another Leading specialty retailer was able to launch several fulfillment options for its customers in no time, thus created a differentiated proposition.

The achievement of such competitive edge via agile practices calls for efforts from the top management to create an organization level mandate and an ecosystem that embraces agile. It is necessary to get a buy-in from all the departments and support teams to espouse a ‘by default agile’ mindset. The leadership needs to imbibe strong commitment to make transformation to agile a top priority. Conscious attempts at cultivating such attentiveness can go a long way. You can further strengthen the agile journey by building a team of business and technology managers who are highly productive in driving on demand capability. It is critical to emphasize that agile is a technology transformation, it is an enterprise wide transformation which involved all parts of the company – Strategy, Finance, Marketing, HR, Merchandising and even store operations.

It is obvious that agile retailers are able to gain a lot more than those that aren’t. For businesses in this sector, there are powerful incentives to deliver on customer expectations, with useful innovations, quickly and effectively. Unfortunately in this race the tortoise does not defeat the hare.

If you’d like to learn more about going agile or how it can help your retail business, read my article How Retail CEOs Can Drive Agile to Grow Their Business in the latest edition of our management journal, Perspectives.

About the author(s)

Rajashree R

Rajashree is the Global Head, Retail Practice and Solutions at TCS. She has spent over 20 years engaging with leading retailers in driving their transformation and innovation programs. In the recent years, she has largely been instrumental in helping retailers adopt a Digital First Model. As leader of the Retail Solutions group she incubated OptumeraTM, an AI based merchandising platform, OmniwiseTM which is a machine learning based supply chain platform and OmnistoreTM Industry’s first Microservices based POS. She leads the Retail Innovation Lab which researches and experiments with new technology innovations in retail like AR/VR, Robotics, Image Recognition, Gaming, IOT etc. Her current area of interest is to infuse Artificial Intelligence across the retail value chain helping retailers innovate to stay ahead.

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