Using Design Thinking to build a strategy and drive innovation in a retail - Case Study

Traditional sales meetings are dead. Especially in consulting industry where more and more clients want to change "something" but they don't know what and how. Usually, business owners want to increase sales and product owners ways to improve products. Everything in between is my job. Let’s start with 3 crucial questions.

  1. For whom do we solve the problem?

  2. What are we trying to solve?

  3. What is the added value for our specific user?

Design Thinking methodology most people connect with designing digital products such as websites, mobile apps, etc. Design thinking is also associated with prescriptions for the innovation of products and services within a business and social contexts. Some of these prescriptions have been criticized for oversimplifying the design process and trivializing the role of technical knowledge and skills. Design thinking methodology can be applied to both products and services. We can solve problems Internally with employees and externally with customers.

In this particular case, my new client Living Uniforms acquired business and wanted to develop a new business strategy and explore opportunities on the market. Living Uniform is a company that sells chefswear & hospitality clothing having their assortment of British premium brands like Denny's brands, LeChef, AFD, Oliver Harvey, SFC and TIbard. Handling B2B is never an easy job considering there is always more than one stakeholder involved in the sales process. Typical buyers are restaurants and hotels but end users are chiefs which means my client needs to satisfy both business people chiefs. The procurement process is slow and often can be difficult for new companies since hotels are having annual contracts with suppliers. Buyers are asking for quality clothes but are not willing to pay for the quality, which at the end result with their employees suffer the most. The previous owner has a traditional way of thinking which influenced the business of the company. Living Uniforms wanted to develop and implement an event-based marketing strategy (EBM) using social media. They were looking for a way to expand the market and provide added value to existing customers and acquire new customers too.

Creating persona Ivan - a chief

Instead of a classic sales meeting, we conducted a one-day Design Thinking workshop. Firstly we discussed business objectives and made a stakeholder map then we made user research which resulted in creating two user personas: a Maria - a procurement manager and Ivan - a chief. Empathy maps and As-Is scenarios created a clearer picture of the challenge at hand. In the end, random ideas turned into quantifiable business value driven by new business channels. The resulting Design thinking workshop led to a digital transformation of Living Uniforms. Flexi Consulting designed a digital program for business partners which contained innovative cooking activities resulted in the sales increase in the first 3 months of implementation. Furthermore, current website will be upgraded with a webshop which will make it easier for potential buyers who want to purchase only one chief jacket. And finally, we came to idea to upgrade existing service. Apart from regular factory clothing line, clients will be able to adjust their clothes according to wishes and needs.