Walmart had what it thought was a cool idea – let shoppers scan their merchandise with their cell phone as they shop so they can breeze through the check-out line. Unfortunately, pilot testing showed customers just couldn’t figure out the app so the innovation was nixed.
This wasn’t a complete failure, though. Through this experience, Walmart gained the insight that shoppers did like to track their spending on their phone, so they developed a popular app that allowed their customers to do just that.
This “test-and-learn�? approach to innovation is popular in tech startups, but it is being applied more widely in other industries. Rather than taking a conventional launch approach where a new program is completely polished before release to customers, companies are having to move more quickly and learn as they go through iterative releases.
One thing we find notable about this approach is that customer insights are driving decision making. Ideas are tested with customers before being fully launched so they can be refined to better meet customer needs. Not only does this speed up the development process, but it also increases the likelihood of long-term success.
Now, imagine how fast you could move if the customer voice was heard even earlier in the process. Lori Schafer, executive adviser at SAS Institute, is quoted as saying, “Retailers need to fail often and learn quickly and adapt and then adopt." What if you could reduce the risk of failure by using the customer voice to drive innovation, too? We think you can. What do you think?
Check out more examples of how Walmart is innovating through customer conversation here.