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January 25, 2017

Digital technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, augmented reality, machine learning, and gaming present both opportunities and challenges for retailers. For instance, will they be ready to cope with the burst of technology innovations? Are retailers armed with the right solutions to charter this exciting but unknown path along with their customers? To navigate the digital landscape successfully, retailers will need to step inside the customer’s world and deliver innovative solutions that solve real-world problems and challenges. They need to convert the complexities of these technologies into simple solutions that ensure customer delight and loyalty by enhancing the retailing experience.

Design, which has largely been considered a cosmetic and stylistic feature, is being used by retailers to solve complex business, technological, and social problems. Retail organizations are increasingly applying design thinking concepts, which are an amalgamation of technology and art, in an effort to become more customer-centric. Design thinkers are being trained to design with empathy and weave together technology, research, spatial, visual creativity, and user interaction to create powerful ideas and transformation opportunities.

Apple products are a great example of how design thinking can be applied to create revolutionary products with innovative designs, while providing a differentiated user experience. Steve Jobs once said “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

In comparison to the use of design thinking in creating innovative products, adoption of design thinking has been slower in IT services. However, there is immense potential to convert creative ideas into innovative solutions in this area.

Can the retailer create a unique and seamless omnichannel experience for the digitally powered customer? How do they differentiate themselves in a way that can compel the customers to shop at their stores and digital channels? How do retailers gain and retain customer loyalty?

Digitally-adept customers today demand more simplistic, seamless, and connected retail experiences. Even as retailers look for new ways to meet this demand, the possibilities presented by design thinking are unlimited. Customer experience management is a lot more about people than it is about a product or technology. And herein lies the strength of design thinking. It has the potential to transform retailing by making it more customer-driven, simple, intuitive, and definitely more futuristically elegant. With its ability to solve complex challenges and offer solutions that consider the customer point of view, design thinking is the key to improving customer engagement and relationships, and securing competitive advantage in a crowded industry. In part two of this blog, we will aim to navigate the design thinking journey with five key strategies for retail IT solutions.

Rina Kanchan has over 18 years of experience and is a Senior consultant with TCS. She focuses on business development for retail solutions. She works closely with sales teams and prospective customers across geographies and enables positioning TCS capabilities and solutions as game changers for global retailers aspiring to stay relevant to the connected customer. Rina is a fitness enthusiast and enjoys swimming and yoga. She is passionate about Indian classical dance form Kathak and is training for the same.


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