How the Big Boys Chase Innovation
On day two of the Retail Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla., last month, a panel of executives from Best Buy, Dell and 1-800-Flowers.com took part in a roundtable discussion on how their businesses have evolved their brand, e-commerce and marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from their competition through innovation.
Panelists included Mark Mosiniak, senior director of business development at Best Buy; Dell's Global Head of Online Merchandising Marissa Tarleton; and 1-800-Flower.com's Senior Vice President David Siegel. The session was moderated by Dale Nitschke, CEO of Ovative/Group, a digital marketing consulting firm, and former president of Target.com. Here's a taste of what was discussed.
Mosiniak said it wasn't a big secret why Best Buy entered the mobile space — it saw a potential for profitability. But to make it profitable, Best Buy had to invest in people — both employees and consumers — and partners. That included learning from consumers how it could make mobile better. What Best Buy heard is now incorporated into the company's offering: straightforward pricing, knowledgeable sales staff that are available to answer consumers’ questions and a commitment to be there for the lifetime of the phone — in good times and bad.
For Dell, there are two ways the company makes a commitment to innovation. The first is organizationally, where Tarleton reported that 30 percent of her team's sole responsibility is looking for ways to change the business for the better, while the other 70 percent runs the day-to-day operations. The second way is by listening and reviewing customer feedback, which Tarleton said involves her devoting time each day to reading every piece of feedback she gets from customers.
Budget for Innovation
“If you don't budget for something, it doesn't happen,” said Siegel. “Budget for innovation.” On a monthly basis, four to five ideas are pitched to senior management at 1-800-Flowers.com. If even one of those ideas works out, "we're ecstatic," Siegel said, noting that the company has launched dozens of websites that have failed. That culture of innovation has helped 1-800-Flowers.com to be the first company to use an 800 phone number, the first merchant on AOL and the first company to complete a transaction on Facebook.