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Agile Retail during a Time of Crisis

Bain Partner Andy Noble discusses how retailers are quickly innovating as the retail market shifts amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


Agile Retail during a Time of Crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced retailers to quickly adapt to varying customer expectations. Andy Noble, who leads Bain's Agile practice in the Americas, discusses some of the innovations that retailers have implemented and the importance of adopting Agile principles to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving retail landscape.

Read the transcript below:

ANDY NOBLE: These are, of course, very turbulent times for retailers. But as they have done so often in times of crisis, retailers are leaning in to be nimble and to innovate quickly.

Many restaurant brands quickly launched contactless and curbside pickup and have started selling groceries. Many grocery chains have totally reimagined their customer experience and forged new partnerships to meet consumer demand. And pharmacies quickly mobilized to offer prescription deliveries.

But what's even more encouraging is the way that retailers are changing the way that they work internally. One senior retail leader told us that he now meets with his cross-functional leaders every day for 30 minutes. And when they used to make five big decisions a month, they're making five a day.

And whether they call it this or not, these retailers are becoming more Agile. They are designing and deploying innovations to customers and employees far more rapidly. Their leadership teams are meeting more frequently, focusing on the most important things, acting decisively and shifting the organization to meet evolving priorities.

Employees are breaking silos and forming cross-functional teams to get the job done. In fact, in a survey we did with over 800 companies, 72% of employees said that their teams are working with greater agility than before. And figuring this out for the long term is important because those same employees that we surveyed worry about returning to business as usual as the sense of urgency fades away.

The Covid-19 crisis will evolve and eventually abate, but disruption will remain. If you take steps now to become more Agile, not only will you increase your chances of weathering the storm but you'll position yourself to thrive in the years ahead -- no matter what the next disruption may be.

Bain Book

Doing Agile Right

Agile has the power to transform work—but only if it's implemented the right way.

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