Why retailers need to think like start-up companies

Next week at WGSN Futures Australia in Melbourne, Andrew Grill from IBM will offer his high-level global perspective on the major influences that are driving digital disruption in retail and across other industries. He’ll also offer his advice about what those companies need to do to stay relevant in this ever-changing landscape. Ahead of our event, we asked him to provide a snippet of what our audience can look forward to, enjoy!

Here’s 4 key ways that businesses can thrive in this digital landscape, and yes switching your mentality to think more like a start-up business is key:

1. Stay ahead of the digital disruption curve.

We’ll look at why in order to “get digital” you have to “think digital”, and examine how other industries have responded and take advantage of employees who are “born digital” along with those who are “digital ready”. We’ll also look at some disruptive technologies such as cognitive computing and blockchain and explain how you can utilise these in your industry for maximum effect.

2. Think like a start-up

Having run 6 start-ups over the last 12 years both in Australia and the UK, I’ll provide the audience with some insights on how to “think like a start-up”, with some practical tips and tricks to develop an agile culture and put the consumer at the front of all design decisions using a technique known as “design thinking”.

3. Tame Social Media

Another topic that my clients ask me about all the time is about how to tame social media data and turn it into insight.

One of my most tweeted quotes from the stage during presentations is the following:

“Social media is the best piece of market research you NEVER commissioned”

I’ll provide those at the Melbourne event the reason behind my thinking on this quote and show a live demonstration of the IBM Watson’s personality insights tool to show what intelligence you can derive from the tweets of your customers, celebrities and even your competitors.

4. Influencers: sort fact from fiction.

Having been the CEO of social influencer platform Kred from 2011 – 2013, I have unique experience and exposure to the world, and psychology of influencers. What I saw first-hand and continue to see now is people who TELL you they are influential, and demand a lot of money to promote your products. This has evolved greatly over the last few years and has reached a point where influencers can appear to be as important as celebrities and the press and getting your message out.  I’ll help you determine who is truly influential, and who is just noisy. A recent article in the Economist examined what influencers are paid on various platforms. This research is fascinating and shows the sway that influencers now hold with brands. This part of the session is not to be missed.


Andrew Grill is Global Managing Partner for IBM Social Consulting and has spent the last 20+ years working for Australian Telcos, and technology start-ups and now advises IBM’s largest clients on how to become digital. More of Andrew’s thought leadership can be found at LondonCalling.co or on Twitter @AndrewGrill


WGSN Futures Australia is a must-see summit for Retail executives, Marketers, Buyers, Merchandisers and Designers. We will be presenting in Sydney in November 15th and Melbourne in November 18th – don’t miss out.




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