AI in Retail: Beyond The Hype and Into Reality for Store Operations.
The term "AI" is often thrown around, but what does it really mean?
The release of our recent Agile Stores Lab piece we will admit is heavy on the numbers, showcasing some exciting data on how stores are becoming more Agile and the impact it’s having on retail businesses.
But what about the human side of Agility?
Retail is a people business, all about the teams that come to work every single day. A common question we get asked is, “Why is an Agile Stores operating model good for my people?”
Let’s answer this by looking at some of the research behind the four values of our Agile Manifesto and how they correlate with these core pillars of building successful, happy teams:
The idea of focusing on engagement over compliance is admittedly the area where we see retailers raise their eyebrows most. The idea of conformity to predefined tasks and pre-populated checklists has been industry dogma for many years.
To overcome this we think retailers need to turn the point on its head and recognise that compliance also comes as a result of engagement. I.e. People are more likely to do accurate, efficient and effective work if they feel more engaged in the company.
A 2017 Gallup Survey provided clear evidence for this. Almost any business metric you are trying to improve – productivity, engagement, customer satisfaction, absenteeism, shrinkage, turnover – benefits from more engaged staff.
Our user experience has been designed with an engagement-first approach. Two of the KPIs we use to measure this are: how many users are writing weekly Missions in Quorso (~92%), and how often users are engaging with colleagues via Quorso in efforts to improve the business (X times/week).
A 2017 Gallup Report tells us that organizations with engaged staff enjoyed the following improvements (Reilly, 2014):
Historically the Learning and Development approach has been around a philosophy called instructivism. Instruct people on what to do, with the learner being the passive recipient of that knowledge e.g. a lecture.
If you consider the learning approach at most retailers, through courses and Learning Management Systems (LMS), this continues to be the main method used.
However, there are two other styles of learning that are now being recognized as equally important to include in the mix:. Constructivism and Connectivism.
Constructivism is a learning approach that emphasizes how important it is to learn from self-guided exploration, reflection and evaluation.
So for instance within Quorso, the process of planning how to take action on an opportunity (Mission), taking that intended action, and getting continuous feedback on whether it is working, provides managers with self-guided discovery which helps them upskill on the job.
In 2016, Degreed did a survey about how the workplace learns. The response was at odds with how most companies set up their L&D, as Table 1 shows.
Employees state they learn most from self-directed networks, boss/mentors or peers. Whilst most investment is in traditional, top-down L&D and LMS.
|Top employee preference||Top company investment|
|Self direction e.g. Google search (90%)||L&D dept (21%)|
|Boss or mentor (69%)||LMS (28%)|
|Peers (55%)||Intranet (17%)|
At Quorso, we promote more social learning through direct coaching experiences between District Leaders and Store Managers and through automated sharing of best practice across the whole store network.
If the last 12 months has taught us anything, it’s been the critical need for a resilient workforce. A whole slew of research has been coming out from the likes of Deloitte and Aon, highlighting the enormous value of resilience in the workplace.
What has been interesting about these reports is that although they do state the importance of factors such as wellbeing programs and ethics for building resilience, there is another core pillar that has come up. Individuals want themselves and their companies to reach their potential. Achieving that requires a mindset of continuous improvement and an agile approach, where everyone is aligned around common goals and knows the company is doing its best to reach that potential.
If you want to learn more about this, get in touch: email@example.com