Established retailers must accept the failings of their existing systems and adopt rapid development methodologies if they are to avoid becoming the next Clintons or Blockbuster warned Mark Dermody, global IT director at Costa Coffee.

“Digital is a huge customer trend and retailers ignore it at their peril. They need to innovate or die. Disrupt or be disrupted,” he said, while he highlighted how companies like Uber, Airbnb and Alibaba are rocking the market by radically improving the customer experience.

The key to fighting back against such disruptors is to “create intimate relationships between you and the customer” and for this to happen it is essential that the chief executive understands digital. Only then will it be possible for organizations to make the necessary changes, he said.

Speaking at RBTE 2017, Dermody said these should include replacing legacy systems with solutions in the cloud and renting rather than buying hardware. “It’s much better to consume in the cloud where you can scale more quickly,” he said. In tandem with this, retailers need to adopt a mindset of rapid development of solutions whereby ‘minimum viable products’ are released rather than waiting to release the perfect solution.

“Twenty per cent of the scope [of a project] will be 80% of the benefits so focus on this part first. Prototype first by building something and getting feedback. Customers like change so retailers need to create excitement. No ideas are bad ideas. Even if only one in 10 gets to the customer then you are doing well,” he suggested.

by: Glynn Davis via

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