Fifty years ago, retail was a very different industry. There were no online retailers, consumers relied heavily on salespeople and advertising consisted mostly of TV, print, and radio. Today, however, is a different story. In an age when new brands can seemingly pop up overnight, it’s critical companies remain nimble and receptive to new ideas in order to maintain success.
Determining how to go about integrating new ideas into your organization can be difficult, though. One way to assure your brand is staying on top of trends and ahead of competitors is through experimentation and A/B testing.
Learn how to integrate a culture of experimentation into your brand and how it can impact the future of retail with these tips below.
As previously mentioned, companies with happier team members often have higher profits. While there are a number of ways to engage your workforce, providing team members will the opportunity to experiment and witness the outcomes of their hard work will increase happiness. Not to mention testing will keep ego out of decision making and will set everyone’s sights on the bigger picture.
While many retailers may be eager to roll out new ideas and go with the faster option, A/B testing is a more effective approach. It allows for a number of ideas to be tested and will alter how team members view their accomplishments.
Instead of being told they subjectively did a good job, they will be able to objectively recognize their achievements in data. It’s even more of a win if a team member’s experiment has a direct impact on company revenue. This will motivate individuals to continue to work hard and make an impact on the organization.
There are also a number of fun ways to reward and acknowledge team members for their hard-earned success. At Readers.com, we present our “Lame Duck” award to an individual or team who had the best failed experiment at each month’s companywide meeting. This award encourages our team members to pursue their ideas, regardless of the outcome.
Without experimentation, retailers will remain stagnant. With the ability of new competitors to pop up and overtake an industry, it’s critical organizations are constantly finding new ways to maintain their competitive edge.
When you integrate a culture of experimentation into a company, you will then develop an organization full of passionate and adventurous team members. These team members will constantly be on the lookout for unique opportunities to pursue. While they might not all pan out, instilling this mindset companywide will ensure new experiments are always on the horizon.
Once it’s decided to pursue experimentation, it’s important that program principles are determined. According to one expert, examples of program principles might include:
- All test ideas are fungible;
- More tests does not equal more money;
- It is always about efficiency;
- Discovery is a part of efficiency;
- Type 1 errors are the worst possible outcome;
- Don’t target just for the sake of it; and
- The least efficient part of optimization is the people.
While each organization’s experimentation principles can look widely different, the most important thing to keep in mind is no questions are left unanswered. This will help guarantee everyone is on the same page, especially when it involves stakeholders and new employees.
Another benefit of implementing A/B testing into a retail organization is the fostered collaboration that comes with it. There are two main reasons why collaboration is an added benefit of experimentation.
First, experimentation should be encouraged companywide to ensure the best results. This means that all team members are encouraged to test, regardless of position or department. While experimentation often falls to the marketing or technology departments, it’s very likely that a team member who interacts first hand with customers, such as customer service representatives, will have ideas that others will not. This guarantees the best ideas are followed.
Secondly, it’s not uncommon that an experiment would involve several departments. Even if marketing develops a certain idea, it might directly impact another department, such as fulfillment, which would then need to get involved to make sure the experiment was plausible.
The future of retail is bright, but it will require organizations to go above and beyond in their capabilities and push the envelope to attract and retain customers. However, by implementing A/B testing into your organization, you will find that morale is increased amongst team members, new opportunities to grow the brand are pursued, and collaboration is fostered companywide.
Angie Stocklin is the Co-Founder and COO of Readers.com, a leader in online retail and non-prescription reading glasses. Stocklin and her husband started the company out of their home office in Greenwood, Ind. in 2005 and now operate three eyewear brands: Readers.com, Sunglass Warehouse, and felix + iris.