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Tech strategy must embrace innovation

By John Eustace, Retail Advisor | Friday February 9 2024 | UPDATED 09.02.24

An open-door policy might help innovation results, argues retail advisor John Eustace

Many, many years ago Tesco had an open-door policy towards brands seeking in-store distribution.

Each Tuesday one could turn up, and be seen, regardless, presenting the product for listing. Without an appointment.

Mind you, 'Prize Catch,' a frozen minced white fish for cats, didn’t quite make it. But at least it was an enlightened retailer approach.

Contrast this with how easy it is to present software innovation today.

Seeking innovation everywhere

Innovation doesn’t stand or fall by value. But a reluctance to provide the time on a retailer’s part, to actually listen, absorb and even test.

One such case in point is illustrated by the exceptional result in end of shelf-life fresh food wastage being reduced by 33% by two Oxford graduates using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) activities.

Their demand forecasting methodology is game-changing, creating near perfect accuracy.

They have created Guac as a result of noticing the difference between two Marks & Spencer stores two miles apart in Oxford.

One almost permanently out of stock of guacamole and the other branch always price reducing to clear. Hence the name!

Store-level replenishment

It highlights that demand to a given store must always be unique and individual. However, the problem is one of listening! Guac is but a David in the land of Goliath.

Big retail demands big software, more as insurance than the relative quality of software. Granted that Goliath-like solutions often provide a overarching solution.

But these overarching solutions often deliver average value and often superficial results. All too often the David equivalent can’t get a hearing.

Innovation is being wasted by a reluctance on the part of retail to provide an open door to look at what David is bringing to the party.

But it's worth remembering David won.

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