An Agile Approach to Retail
Given our backgrounds in IT and software development, it’s tough not to draw comparisons between that world and Jaunt. In both worlds, we prefer the Agile Method. Agile is a flexible, adaptive approach where a product (software, retail store, whatever) is built rapidly and then continuously improved. Just so we don’t get too geeky about it, let’s call the key ingredient out for what it is: hustle. In software development, and in building a business, you have to HUSTLE: don’t be too precious about your concept, listen to your audience/customers, adapt when needed, and get something cool into as many hands as possible so you can revisit and refine. Don’t spend forever building in a vacuum only to find out that your concept sucks, or that you’ve lost the motivation to make it a reality. Get your idea out there. Iterate. Improve. This isn't just for retail startups!
When we first came up with the idea for Jaunt, we didn’t know a whole lot except we wanted:
- To offer statement pieces that were different from what the big box stores could offer
- To stay in a price range that was achievable for most people
- To offer funky urban style out in the ‘burbs
That’s pretty much it. And we’re learning that, like art, it’s tough to engineer a compelling experience for your audience or customers but you know it when you see it (and hopefully you know it when they see it, too). So we made what felt were smart selections for our key ingredients: space, inventory, branding, customer service. We built a business model and our initial investments around those things. And we’re still trying to figure the rest out.
Every week, we review our space planning, online presence, pricing strategy, signage (or, usually, lack thereof), merchandising, technology, and partnerships, and, like good software, roll out as many updates and improvements as we can. Listening is a super-important part of these exercises; listen to your customers, your partners, and your instincts. Ask people what they think. Don't let anything be too precious that you can't change it and move on. We're still making changes on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis, and that's what makes this fun.