Combining Technology With Passion To Create The Retail Big Picture

While technology innovations are vital to moving retail companies successfully into the future, company vision and passion go hand-in-hand. During a closing keynote at the NRF Big Show 2014, Jack Dorsey — CEO of Square and Chairman of Twitter — shared these insights and other advice regarding the role of technology in the future retail landscape.

“At the end of the day, all technology — everything we mean when we say the word ‘technology’ — is just a bunch of tools,” Dorsey said. “A basic tool saves time for people, while a good tool gives people a purpose and meaning. Great tools fill people with a sense of joy.”

{loadposition TSHBAIAA022014} Technology often is thought to be the cause of disruption in business. However, lack of a unified vision among company employees can be overlooked as a factor creating additional business challenges, according to Dorsey. Although technology plays a role in the overall outcome of a project, the lack of cohesion and vision can be the underlying problem which leads to extended project timelines and missed goals.


“We can’t just look at tiny little parts of things, and then replace them or move them around,” Dorsey said. “Then, we are going to end up having to connect the dots later. This is really hard to do.”

For example, Dorsey shared that the Square POS system was developed from a single question: What if everyone could accept credit card payments? The ability of Square company executives to think radically and not look into every single technological detail has allowed them to create a product and service that small businesses are using as a valuable part of overall growth.

“I find that [the retail industry] is focused on all the smaller parts instead of the broader, cohesive whole,” Dorsey said. “When you look at a system completely — when you question it completely, when you rethink it completely — you will have a sense of cohesion. You will have a sense of an end-to-end experience, and that is what people feel great about.”

Dorsey discussed one of the most overlooked component of every retail purchase — the receipt — and how it can be used as a communications medium to increase customer satisfaction and boost business productivity. As receipts go digital, retailers can collect customer data during the checkout process and use the receipts as a tool to improve engagement with shoppers. “These are the things you can do if you consider the receipt not just a piece of paper, but a rich communication channel that can be interactive,” Dorsey said. “And every retailer gives thousands of these out every single day. You have to ask yourself: How do you make them more valuable unto themselves?

In the end, innovation does not come from technology alone. A retailer’s ability to see the potential in something so small and possibly overlooked, and having a group of coworkers that share the same vision, is all that is needed in order to deliver success.

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