SAG_Twitter_MEME_Who-is-your-next-competitor_880x440_May18You just got home, you are tired, but it’s time to get dinner started – what do you do?

Today, you have many choices – you can cook from scratch using groceries that you had delivered that day. You can order ready-made food to be delivered from an array of companies. Or you can grab a meal kit from the fridge (that was also delivered to you) and cook it up for a quick healthy fix. All of these amazing time-saving options for customers mean that it is more urgent than ever for grocery retailers to innovate.

Last November it made headline news that Just Eat - a company that produces no food and has no supply chain or outlets - became more valuable than one of the largest grocers in the world. This was not the first headline of this type.  We have all heard the statements about how Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider yet it has no beds, and that Uber is a big transportation company but has no vehicles.  The message is clear – competition is coming from all over and you need to be ready.

Recently I spent time with Woolworths Australia, which is not related to any international namesake, an AU$50 billion grocer with sales revenues larger than Sainsbury’s in the UK and Publix in the US. 

In my discussions, one thing that kept coming up time and again was new competition.  There is an understanding within the business that the new competition does not necessarily come from Amazon or international market entrants like Schwarz Group. While these are important and cannot be ignored, new competition comes from what one might consider other industries.

Like many grocers, Woolworths is competing for the evening meal; coming up against Uber Eats, Menulog - and others like Hello Fresh - for busy families to feed themselves.  In Woolworths’ stores I saw meals pre-packaged in carry out bags – a direct response to the Uber Eats-style challenge.

The ability to adapt is critical.  And speed is of the essence. But this business agility requires technology agility.  Too many times in my career I’ve seen technology obstacles get in the way of new customer propositions that can differentiate them from the competition.  Competitive pressures dictate that you simply cannot wait – a response is required now.

This is why the concepts discussed around headless commerce (and I still don’t like the name) resonate so strongly in all my conversations.  Delivering a new customer proposition requires the ability to connect systems, Things and customers, to orchestrate a streamlined process and understand what is happening in real time, while being able to automatically respond to what the customer is doing. 

I picked up another new term: “Always ready but never finished.” And that is the point: The ability to be agile requires you to be able to respond to non-traditional competitors – no matter what industry you are in.  These are the competitors you don’t even know about yet!

To find out more about how Software AG’s Digital Business Platform is helping the world’s leading retailers quickly create new customer propositions, click below.
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