Agility Optimization Powers Acceleration in Retail


If you’re in the retail industry, chances are you hear this buzzword thrown around quite a bit. In fact, the need for retailers to accelerate is so critical right now that it was the theme for NRF 2022: Retail’s Big Show in January. At Sophelle, we understand the importance of acceleration. We see acceleration as inextricably linked to a retailer’s mastery of another crucial characteristic: agility

Why Acceleration Is So Important Right Now 

The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on the retail industry. An unprecedented number of retailers have closed their doors over the past year and a half, creating an opportunity for new companies to fill the empty spaces left behind. 

These new companies have one clear advantage over their more established retail counterparts. They are often small enough to turn on a dime and make adjustments quickly. This ability, along with their implementation of some of the most advanced and cohesive retail technology solutions on the market, allow newer, younger companies to optimize for agility

Agility optimization allows retailers to adopt change at the fastest possible rate – maximizing their ability to accelerate. Acceleration, in turn, can be used to create superior customer experiences, drive revenue, and lower costs. Retailers desperately need to accelerate to keep up. Mid-sized retailers are in a particularly challenging position; they must accelerate to compete not only with the massive resources of larger retailers but with the agility of newer, smaller companies as well. 

The Agility Quotient

In retail, organizational growth and maturity tend to follow a common trajectory, illustrated by this graphic:

Agility Quotient

Small retailers start out remarkably agile, but with few systems or processes in place to facilitate long-term scalability. Then, as they implement more repeatable processes to support growth, their agility inevitably declines. The constraints created by systematized processes help to provide a consistent experience; they also slow retailers down. 

The ultimate goal for retailers is to reach a point where agility and scalability are both maximized.

The Path Forward for Retailers

The path forward isn’t easy, but less-than-optimal ability can result in major consequences. In fact, a Deloitte survey of 500 CIOs found that projects are more likely to fail due to lack of agility (or change management) than due to project management. 

As Sucharita Kodali from Forrester recently reported, “the savviest businesses are actively grappling with how to reinvent themselves in the search for continued relevance and growth.” Mid-size retailers in the post-COVID retail landscape are at a crucial turning point. They can either allow their agility to continue decreasing—which is the default path for companies of this size—or they can intentionally accelerate to adjust their trajectories upward toward full optimization. 

At Sophelle, our retail consultants help clients accelerate by introducing ideas, strategies, and systems that target agility optimization—giving them the ability to change over and over (and over) again. 

If you need support harnessing the power of agility in your organization, let’s talk. Get in touch and a Sophelle Practice Leader will reach out to you within one business day.