One purpose with this blog is for me to share my journey exploring new business opportunities. This is a part of my final project for my MSc with the aim that an actual company being born from the process.
I’m hoping that the tales from my startup journey can inspire you, me and everybody else out playing with their own ideas and projects.
The project I’m working on is currently focusing on technology solutions for the retail industry and to narrow down the focus further the initial customer discovery process will be on fashion chains. The most obvious reason for this is that I’ve worked at H&M for about 5 years as a floor manager, sales assistant and I even worked for 3 months at a warehouse in Oslo. My experience from these different levels of H&M has given me a head start in understanding fashion companies and the industry which will hopefully support my process. However, technology is moving forward with a rapid speed and getting insight and experience within this area is the next challenge I’m taking on.
The retail industry’s has previously not been focused on technology. This is changing. First of all because of the growth of e-commerce, a presence online is crucial for survival and this has altered the focus from physical shops to a more intangible presence in the online world where understanding the technologies supporting this activity is vital.
However, IT has an internal importance to support efficiency and data analysis in retail organisations. Especially retail chains that are operating at several locations and perhaps in several countries. There are many questions to find answers to when unwrapping the internal IT strategies as there are no wholesome product solutions used. Different systems support different tasks such as payroll, inventory management, absence management and it is also common that internal solutions are developed to support other needs companies might have when it comes to in store processes.
For my end project I’m looking to unveil the needs that current solutions are not supporting and also what the current solutions are not doing well. How can technology assist shop managers to manage their staff more efficiently as this is what at least 60% of their time is spent on, something that has been recognised through interviews I’ve had with store managers.
The start of my project will be to build sub hypotheses to support the initial hypothesis that retail organisations are lacking “off the shelf” industry oriented technology solutions.
Some questions I’m looking to find the answers to include:
What current systems are integrated to support the needs of communication between store managers, floor managers and head office?
How attainable are these solutions and are they used efficiently?
What is the form of information that are currently communicated and where are there holes in the communication?
I’ve started conducting interviews with store managers and are currently approaching head office people however it is a difficult to find the right people to speak to as larger retail organisations are not keen to share this sort of information. I’m approaching this problem by going through my personal network as well as connecting with people via LinkedIn and if you’re reading this and think you can help, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Further reflection on the customer discovery process and conducting interviews will come soon!