09 Apr A new way to think about retail innovation
Retail innovation is finding a better way to do something in a retail business which improves on how it was done before, adding value.
Innovation is too often mistaken for invention. The true definition of innovation is finding a better way to do something that improves on how it was done previously, that adds value to the user. An organisation’s innovation department often ties themselves in knots trying to come up with new inventions, when slight improvements on existing methods actually creates material value for their customers.
US Data Engineer Susie Lu has done just that with the humble receipt, innovating how purchase data is displayed, to enhance customer understanding. Receipts have been on a downward relevancy path for some years now, another victim of the digital age. Reward points collection, vouchering and expense-capturing all now have digital substitutes. But as a written report of what a shopper actually purchased they haven’t really changed much in 50 years.
In a true example of retail innovation, Susie Lu has revolutionised how shopping information is presented with significant implications for supermarkets and discount stores with multiple shopper purchases. She has developed software which groups purchases into categories like ‘Fresh produce’, ‘Eggs & Dairy’, ‘Frozen’ and ‘Snacks’, allowing shoppers to identify where their weekly investment is going in an instant.
Below the bubble-chart summary, there is an itemised list with another twist. Lu’s innovative receipt design features a bar chart for each individual item representing how expensive it was in relation to other items in the category. A $13 ribeye steak has a full bar, while a $4 chicken jalapeno sausage only has a small bar.
Organisations today talk a lot more than they act when it comes to innovation and as this simple example illustrates, often ways to demonstrate to your customers that you are an innovative company are right in front of your eyes and easy to implement.
Receipts are given to millions of customers every day by retailers around the world, they are one of the oldest and largest owned media channels and we salute it getting a facelift in this useful way.