Earlier this summer, STORES Magazine published their list of the Top 100 retailers of 2018. As has been the case in the past few years, there was little movement among the best of the best. Why is that? How are these companies able to consistently stand out every year?

In looking through the list of retailers named by STORES, trends start to emerge with the practices of these companies, if not necessarily with their products, services, or customers. One noteworthy through line is that each of these retailers recognize the importance of playing the long game. Retail is often reported on as if it transforms at a breakneck pace but these innovative giants maintain their spots at the top by changing gradually, deliberately, and way before everyone else. They have planned ahead for the changes they lay out over the coming years and they have invested in technologies –and people- that can provide exciting and efficient solutions before customers even realize they needed them. These companies thrive year in and year out because they don’t think in a year in year out way. Their focus is years in advance.

One example of this foresight comes from grocery megachain Kroger, who has engineered infrared sensors that measure store occupancy and prompt management accordingly when staffing needs fluctuate. Kroger recognized their customers wanted shorter checkout lines, but instead of taking the brute force approach and just hiring more staff, Kroger created technology that allowed floor managers to more efficiently reshuffle existing staff. They solved an old problem in a new way. Lowe’s did the same thing. The home improvement superstore saw that customers appreciated the input of store associates, so they empowered their associates with technology that made them even more helpful. Now installed in many of their stores are over 60,000 mobile devices running custom apps to help employees provide better service.

Where are the Pain Points?

These innovations were born after the companies asked themselves how they could better address the needs of their customers and associates. In the words of Eric Hanson, Lowe’s Director of Digital Experience and Product Management, “every technology decision is based around what problems or pain points we are solving for customers.” These changes will surely be highlighted once they sweep across their respective markets but rather than latching on to innovations once they’ve been debuted elsewhere, Kroger and Lowe’s thought ahead.

These Top 100 retailers innovate by identifying old problems and solving them in new ways. In doing so, they make sure they are the ones driving retail forward instead of simply being along for the ride. Our experts here at Sophelle can help you pinpoint snags in your business and facilitate creative solutions to address them in new ways. Contact us a call today and we can get started together.