And so begins a new year. Holiday 2015 is now a thing of the past, with perhaps the exception of the investing world and industry analysts frantically trying to decipher what the results mean for retail and the industry’s many players. With a bit of a welcomed break over the holidays, I returned the Monday after New Years Day to a project where our client is in the initial stages of a pretty major business transformation.
As is the case with many seasoned retail companies, their existing systems served them very well for many, many years, and the processes they used – even while being highly manual and paper-driven – worked adequately for the very lean staff supporting several hundred stores. However, with many of their systems at or near their end-of-life, competitive forces coming from every imaginable angle, and new technologies making their way into the mainstream seemingly on a daily basis, the company was pressured to start looking into new systems to support their growth and development plans. They realized this effort would require a significant amount of change, and the decision was made to focus first on key support areas with an eye to core merchandising transformation in the near future.
I’ve always enjoyed transformations – large and small. As a designer, the ability to take a timeworn piece of furniture or a non-functional space and give it new life or a new purpose is an exciting journey for me. As a consultant, helping clients understand and design new possibilities – and witness the mounting anticipation and enthusiasm as they begin to embrace the ensuing change – is as rewarding as it gets.
Many tenets of good design hold true for the types of transformations our clients and many in the retail industry are undertaking. Whether it is a new process, a technology solution, or an organization, preserving the “good bones” of something, prudently letting go of the past, and structuring it all to work better for the present and into the future is paramount to successful change. Furthermore, understanding what is truly needed and prioritizing those needs to ensure the final product supports overall objectives is key.
As you plan and undergo your own transformation – be it personal New Year’s resolutions or a new business environment – enjoy the journey and look to the bright future.
Happy New Year.