How Waitrose staff generated 4000 innovation ideas

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Waitrose’s staff are taking the lead in generating ideas for projects that can reduce friction for customers, according to its head of in-store innovation.

Stuart Eames, who is retail innovation lead at the supermarket chain, said at the FUTR conference in London that crowdsourcing ideas from partners had led to 4000 ideas being generated over the last three years.

The retailer is managing to bring around 13% of these ideas to fruition, Eames said, adding that having so many to choose from was a “great problem to have”.

The company uses the Partner Ideas software to allow staff on the front line of serving customers to submit suggestions for how the customer experience could be improved. One employee managed to cut 12cm from the average till receipt through her idea.

Eames added that innovation should not be located within the IT department.

“IT should be the facilitator. But the problems should come from your stores, where the customer friction points are.”

He highlights the example of Waitrose’s shift from having individual single use devices for functions such as click and collect and branch stock management. These were replaced by a ruggedised Android device which can do anything.

Interestingly, Eames said that providing staff with all their information on one device helped them better serve the customer. He said that the company’s customer satisfaction scores had gone up,  despite this not being a focus of the plan initially.

“If you focus on one problem, you find something else comes out of it.”

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