Innovation for Retailers

Innovation for Retailers

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology


Nearly everyone understands the innovation imperative today. The challenge is that retailers, regardless of size, have limited resources to devote to discovering, understanding, piloting, and deploying, new capabilities.

Solution providers seeking to sell new innovative capabilities to retailers would do well to keep the issue of resource constraints top of mine when approaching retailers. Retail success requires incredible operational execution and retail executives spend nearly all their time focused on the day to day operations of their business. 

From a sales perspective, solutions want to really think through the benefits of what your solution provides AND be prepared to clearly communicate what’s involved from the retailer’s perspective to test and deploy your capability. Be very clear on what’s required from the retailer, both initially to set things up, and then ongoing to keep your solution performing well. Work with the retailer to understand each requirement and where and when it happens on some kind of project timeline so the retailer clearly understands what is expected of them to be successful.

Depending on what capabilities you are proposing, talk with the retailer about requirements at the retailer’s headquarters level and store-level as appropriate. Help the retailer understand how to operationalize your solution. Does the retailer need to train their people? Does the retailer need associates with new skill sets to use your solution? These are vitally important questions to ask and discuss as part of the sales process.

It is only with clear understanding and expectations that any new innovation has an opportunity to succeed.

About the Author

Gary Hawkins is the founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART). He can be reached at

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First level due diligence ensuring the solution is valid and viable.