Most retailers are feeling the pressure to add new physical, online and mobile channels to keep pace with new technologies and changing consumer demands. But if you’re only adding and not actually integrating these channels with the rest of your organisation, you can end up with silos that frustrate your internal teams and customers.
A vital element in delivering a great customer experience is your employee experience. If your people feel good about their work, that transfers to all their interactions with customers. So, what exactly is employee experience and why is it important?
Premium tea retailer will modernise its retail operations to give customers seamless experiences using our Infinity unified commerce platform
We’re thrilled to announce that Unilever's retail tea business, T2 Tea, has selected Triquestra as its strategic partner for the transformation of its retail system.
T2’s goal is to create immersive and frictionless experiences for customers across online, in-store and mobile channels.
Infinity will be installed as T2’s point of sale with the power to create a central hub for the brand’s inventory and customer loyalty across eCommerce, wholesale and a growing global footprint of over 100 stores across APAC, Europe and North America.
A key factor in T2’s decision was Infinity’s maturity – it’s a proven unified commerce platform that will scale and adapt to shifting consumer expectations and new technologies and give T2 the flexibility to quickly extend support to new stores, channels and markets.
Established in Melbourne in 1996, T2 Tea is a premium tea brand that prides itself on quality products that are beautifully packaged and presented through engaging and immersive in-store experiences. In addition to its global retail outlets, T2 operates a thriving wholesale business selling teas to restaurants, cafes, gourmet food stores and airlines, and has eCommerce channels spanning direct to consumer (t2tea.com), marketplaces and wholesaler third-party sites.
We will support T2 in all areas of retail operations and management, including point of sale, inventory, customer data, order management and loyalty. Infinity will integrate with T2’s other technology solutions, including Oracle NetSuite, Salesforce Commerce Cloud for eCommerce, and HighJump Warehouse Advantage for warehouse management.
Integration of in-store and online channels
“To keep pace with new technologies and changing consumer demands, we decided to bring everything together with a unified commerce strategy,” says Rohan Penman, T2’s Global Head of Technology.
“Following an in-depth software review process, we selected Triquestra as our strategic partner to help achieve that vision. Triquestra already supports retailers with a strategy of omnichannel innovation and provides best-in-class products and processes, a broad unified commerce portfolio and a referenceable track record of success with multi-store retailers across multiple geographies.
“Infinity will give us a single hub for our channels, reducing integration complexity and manual overheads, while increasing efficiency and accuracy,” Rohan adds. “It will also be our platform for growth and innovation, helping us to deliver evolutionary innovations that will accelerate our business agility and competitive advantage.”
Immersive and frictionless customer experiences
Our CEO, Kelly Brown, explains: “T2 shares our vision, with a single-minded focus on creating immersive and personalised experiences for customers. It has mastered the art of creating magical in-store experiences, through storytelling and adventurous in-store displays that encourage visitors to discover and experiment.”
“We’re looking forward to supporting T2 in its next phase of growth as the company harnesses new technologies that help to put innovation at the core of everything they do.”
A springboard for innovation
T2’s transition to Infinity will be a phased approach that starts in Australia and New Zealand and extends to Singapore, North America and Europe. Infinity will provide point of sale and a central hub for inventory and customer data to give customers ‘endless aisle’ access to T2’s entire inventory from any channel or touchpoint, as well as new payment options and fulfilment services such as click-and-collect and ship-from-store.
If you’d like help to unify your brand experiences, get in touch. We’d love to chat about how Infinity can help you create personalised and frictionless experiences for customers across all channels.
Faster time to market, quality customer experiences, engaged employees and disruptive competitive advantages – each of these core business goals can be boosted with agile working.
I spoke with Kelly Brown, Triquestra’s CEO, about the business case for agile and how it helps retailers tackle their most pressing problems to deliver value for their customers and people.
For more on becoming an agile retailer, see our earlier blogs on why retailers should adopt agile and why you need both stability and agility to innovate.
What made you first pursue agile working?
KB: We started agile in 2016 with four business goals: High quality software, fast product delivery, energised and engaged people, and tight client partnerships.
Agile has helped us meet all of these objectives. It has improved the way we innovate to deliver products faster and better, and we adapt more quickly to market demands. Plus our team and clients have been impressed by what we’ve achieved together so quickly.
While many of agile’s benefits are well understood, its impact on both internal and external partner relationships is sometimes less appreciated.
People often talk about building ‘partnerships’ with their customers but aren’t clear on what that actually means. When you think about any relationship, you don't expect it to go well all the time. Things do go wrong and when that happens, the key question you’ll have to ask yourself is: ‘Do we have the same goals and will we collaborate to fix the problem?’
If your customer relationship goes bad every time something goes wrong, then it’s not really a relationship. It’s a transaction.
Agile changes the engagement from transactional to collaborative. It’s a completely different way of working together.
What can retailers do to move from transactional to collaborative partnerships?
KB: For agile to succeed, both parties have to play an active part in building a successful collaboration. This is done by focusing on shared success, continuous learning and iterative processes. Our clients not only achieved this with the Triquestra team, but within their own organisations by bringing their own business and technology teams closer together.
These business stakeholders are now highly involved in every stage of our product development. The work is delivered by self-organising and cross-functional teams selected from across each client’s organisation and the Triquestra team.
And they operate as one team. Everyone jointly sets the goals, agrees what’s in or out of scope, makes decisions as one team and equally shares in project success.
What were some key learnings from your move to agile?
KB: One of our biggest learnings was that although agile is perceived to be totally flexible, it’s not. The process is actually very rigid and disciplined. Once you put agile methodologies in place, your build becomes automated, like a factory.
But scope, priorities and mindset with that methodology – is really flexible. And that’s what generates all the innovation, agility and value.
Mostly it comes down to ‘being’ agile rather than ‘doing’ agile.
And we are constantly working on how to take both our processes and thinking to the next level. Our commitment to continuous learning has seen us recently engage experts at Fr@nk Innovation and Transformation to help us with current best practice and continually evolve our approach.
What else needed to change?
KB: The impact on people is profound and your culture will need to change. While we were fortunate to start with a flat management structure and diverse team, it can be challenging for people to move to small, self-managing teams.
We found that some people find it easy to adapt to agile and some people don’t. It comes down to each individual’s willingness and desire to embrace change.
Agile isn’t for everyone. Some people just don’t like change or prefer to be task driven. We found that the most successful people take the attitude: ‘I'm empowered, I can get this done’ and ask what they need to do to succeed in their role and help others do the same.
Another big learning was how to select and deploy the systems and technologies you need to support agile working. Agile teams need high visibility and regular communication and this can put pressure on traditional time, tracking, financial and management systems.
What are the successes you’ve had with agile?
KB: It’s no coincidence that the winning retail brands we support – such as Z Energy, Cue Clothing and Fonterra’s Farm Source – are the clients using agile with us.
With a deep knowledge of each client’s business needs and very close working relationships, we’re delivering higher quality products with valuable features, faster.
Agile has also transformed our culture. Our people are more engaged, energised and, generally, far happier. Because we’ve adopted agile, our teams are empowered to make the best calls on products and services, they achieve things faster, and their relationships with clients are better.
That has improved our staff retention and talent attraction. In a recent internal survey, almost everyone said that they would recommend working at Triquestra.
Another exciting outcome is that our clients recommend us to others and nominate us for awards. For example, we were thrilled when a panel of industry experts assembled by Inside Retail awarded us runner-up 2019 Supplier of the Year.
What are the benefits retailers can anticipate if they move to agile?
KB: Our clients tell us they enjoy the same benefits we’ve experienced. Their teams are happier and more productive, with better engagement and retention, they have greater connections between their business and IT teams (and the Triquestra team), they spend less time testing and get products to market faster. And their customers are getting innovative new experiences, faster.
One client reduced its regression and UAT testing by 50 percent. That’s a massive saving in time and effort, which has driven down costs and is helping to meet evolving market and business demands.
What are the most common questions you get from retailers considering the move?
KB: All clients want to know if agile is going to cost them more. While upfront costs can increase, our clients’ internal costs dramatically decrease, resulting in overall cost savings. And the improved time to market means that they are unlocking revenue increases or cost savings faster, re-balancing the return on investment equation.
For example, the retailer I just mentioned acknowledged that while agile was going to result in more upfront spending on product development, this would be more than offset by those downstream savings they’ve achieved through reduced testing.
The other common question I get is ‘Am I going to be able to control the outcome?’. It’s an important question because an agile partnership does need a high level of trust. You’re going to move from a top-down hierarchy to a more horizontal, self-managing model. There’s still control – it’s just exercised in a different way, with the focus shifting from the process to the output.
And while agile generates short bursts of tangible outputs and regular outcomes, the end product is not going to be defined and costed upfront like a traditional, waterfall approach.
That's a big shift and one that doesn’t work for all organisations or even all projects. But for those that make the jump, agile will forever change the way they work and deliver fantastic new experiences for their employees and customers.
If you’d like advice on how agile can work within your organisation, get in touch. We’re continually evolving our approach to product development using the agile methodology and we’d love to help you deliver capabilities faster and better to meet your changing market and business demands.
For more on how to give your retail business the flexibility and agility you want, download our ebook.
Retail Week in Melbourne was a great experience – going on a tour of new concept stores, meeting with top eCommerce disruptors and attending Inside Retail’s Retailer Awards gala. There are so many smart people and companies doing clever things to be more customer-focused, personal, sustainable and ethical. It was an inspiring trip.
Runner up for Retail Supplier of the Year
Hearing Triquestra’s name called out at the Retailer Awards was thrilling. We were in amazing company and I was very proud that our unified commerce platform and talented people were recognised for helping our clients’ retail businesses excel.
Congratulations to Shane Lenton
Shane is CIO of Cue Clothing Co and he nominated us for Retail Supplier of the Year so a big thank you goes to him. So does a big congratulations because during the week he was named #4 in Internet Retailing’s Top 50 People in E-Commerce 2019. His ‘buy anywhere, fulfil anywhere’ strategy – backed by Infinity – has seen Cue significantly grow its online sales. You can read more about Cue’s work with Infinity in our latest case study.
A focus on provenance and purpose
During my retail tour I saw some impressive stores which are offering interesting customer experiences that combine physical retail with consumer desire for provenance and purpose.
LiTMUS Lab takes advantage of the fact that customers want to try and experience the innovative products they sell before buying. They hold no stock on site, but let shoppers experience the products and store staff knowledge before buying online - either in-store or after leaving the store. All sales are processed as orders that are typically drop shipped directly from the supplier. Their model requires less rental space while reducing inventory cost.
I visited Australia’s first TOMS shoe store, opened by Retail Prodigy Group. TOMS has a powerful business model that addresses need and advances health, education and economic opportunity for children and communities around the world. In the Melbourne store, you see this commitment in action. In addition to helping a person in need with every purchase, you can buy a $2 coffee when you make a purchase and those coffee beans are supplied from another social enterprise. It’s a feel good, tasty, boutique experience with purpose.
First Principles is made-to-measure denim with a difference. They build a pattern for you in their boutique where you can see samples, then you’re in control of choosing fabrics and embellishments online where you can order new jeans whenever you want. They source denim in Japan – from one of the world’s longest-running mills and use factories in Kenya where they know every person who makes their product. It’s a great personalisation story from beginning to end, including a commitment to fix any issues. I hope it proves to be sustainable.
If you’d like to know more about any of the stores I visited or want to discuss these retail trends in relation to your own business, please get in contact.
If the beginning of the year means it’s time to re-evaluate your retail systems, start here.
No matter the scale of what you want to accomplish – boosting POS functionality, getting a single view of inventory, or starting your unified commerce journey to connect POS, inventory, fulfilment, order and customer data – you need a partner with the right people, processes and technology. A partner who understands retail’s demands and can give you the system that will improve customer happiness, staff satisfaction and your bottom line.
Here are important indicators of a good technology partner plus questions to ask
Look for a partner who’s been around retail for a while, with a sound platform, business model and proposition. They’ll need to understand your fast-paced, data-intensive environment where any significant level of downtime is unacceptable.
Their people will have the capability to help you plan and implement your projects so they suit you right now and into the future. When you choose a partner with a mature platform, they can focus on delivering innovation because the core functionality you need already exists.
Make sure your partner has a recent and proven success record for planning, implementing and managing complex, large-scale deployments across multiple stores, multiple formats and multiple geographies.
Do they have stable and well-tested strategies and technology or are they just adapting existing supply chain and fulfilment models? Ask if they’ve worked with related technology, systems and service providers. And how their capability integrates with eCommerce, payments, supply chain and finance software.
Request case studies or references and ask about the consultancy, customisation, deployment, training and support services they provide.
You want a partner who’s got the people and processes to move fast, while cultivating an environment where innovation flourishes. They should use agile methodologies and have experience working with agile retailers.
Get evidence of their history of responsiveness and their ability to assess and quickly correct any unforeseen issues. Ask how they’ve managed things for a client when faced with unexpected changes, a competitor’s action or customer demands.
Choose a partner that can give you a broad and holistic portfolio, perspective and experience. One that gives you all your core requirements out-of-the-box plus the ability to customise and easily add new functionality.
For the best customer experience, you need to intrinsically link inventory, fulfilment, orders, supply chain and planning. You don’t want to be tied to a point player that can only provide portions.
Your partner should let third parties connect to their technology via APIs and cultivate a community with those parties so you can give customers more shopping, payment and fulfilment options.
You also need to know that your partner has a strategic roadmap and investment committed for new capabilities.
Look for a partner that’s an Australasian business, focused on our region’s potential to succeed. A local partner means you can have more influence on the product roadmap and enjoy direct engagement with people on the ground who are committed to your success (and not distracted by offshore business activity). And a mid-size partner is more likely to view you as an important customer of influence. It’s far better to be a big fish in a small pond (and not have to fight for attention as a small fish in a big pond would).
If you’d like a benchmark to rate your current or potential technology partner against, contact us. For more than 23 years, Infinity has been dedicated to the development, implementation and support of retail systems. We’re renowned for being both pioneering and reliable. You can count on us for consulting, platform implementation, integration, training and support that helps you get great results.
While the pop-up phenomenon seems to portray a vibe of ‘now you see it, now you don’t’, in reality retailers are increasingly including the pop-up stores into their omnichannel strategy.