What Is Design Thinking And Why Should Retailers Care About It?

Maria Morais

The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. – Lily Tomlin

There is no single definition of what design thinking is, but most people who use design thinking would probably agree that a design-centric mode of thinking is distinct from a critical mode of thinking as an analytic process.

In a world of constant change and disruptive technology, design thinking is a framework for a human-centric approach to strategic innovation and value creation. And who wouldn’t want this in their organization? Arguably, only companies competing in the rat race.

Design thinking has been oversimplified

The application of design thinking in business is often oversimplified. It’s not about Post-It notes on a wall and creative ways to brainstorm new ideas. It’s a different way of analyzing — more focused on forms, relationships, behavior, and emotions.

The process of understanding how to meet people’s needs isn’t simple. Design thinking helps structure team interactions aligning all participants around specific goals and results.

Why do retailers need to apply design thinking to their business?

For the first time in history, individuals are developing the ability to share information with everyone at any scale and in just a few seconds. The consequence of this is that traditional retail is becoming volatile as a business model and retailers have to adapt their business proposition to a continuous change process that is being led by their customers.

Between 2014 and 2019 total online sales is expected to grow by 82%, which will take the Internet’s share of retail sales to more than 18% in 2019 (Source: Mintel, 2014).

Channels are driving the retail change

In the past, when average-quality products used to be what all customers aspired to acquire, retailers looked at whether or not their distribution channels could manage peaks such as the holiday shopping season. Now the important thing to know is whether retailers are ready to offer customers personalized and consistent experiences across both their online and physical stores.

Channels are driving the retail change, and their composition has an impact across both the revenue and the cost base of the organization. With new online channels emerging every year, all throughout the customer life cycle, there are more interaction options for retailers and their customers.

Experience design as a design thinking approach

Retailers competing in the experience design space are looking to create meaningful contexts of interaction among customers, products, services, and systems on physical and cognitive levels. They know that it’s not just about the interface, integration, usability, or customer service. It’s about the experience; it’s about the customer journey.

For more information about IBM cognitive business, visit: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibmwatson/

Do you hear the voice of your customer? Learn why you should take a customer-centric approach to your business.

You can also discover more about design thinking in the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.

For an in-depth look at business innovation in the digital era is, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Digital technology is changing the game for multiple industries. Learn the warning signs of digital disruption.

 


About Maria Morais

Maria Morais is Customer Engagement and Commerce Retail Lead at IBM GBS. You can follow Maria Morais on Twitter @ceumorais.