Support for business

Opportunities to future proof retail in 2019

Investible founder Creel Price and retail expert Kelly Slessor share insights in the lead-up to Sydney’s first retail innovation program.

Retail innovation program mentor

For anyone running a small business, staying on top of emerging trends or opportunities for growth and putting them into action can be a challenge.

The retail industry has been hugely affected by changes in technology and consumer behaviour. To help traditional businesses evolve, we’ve partnered with Investible to launch Sydney’s first retail innovation program.

The 8-week initiative will challenge up to 15 small-to-medium Sydney retailers to think differently about their businesses. It will help retailers innovate, accelerate growth, embrace technology and future proof their businesses.

Creel Price, founder of Investible, believes that all businesses, whether bricks and mortar, start-up or digital, can benefit from the program.

“The basic tenets of building a great business are the same. Build a great team around a compelling value proposition and a scalable business model. Our accelerator program helps founders validate these key business success factors,” Creel said.

The retail innovation program will challenge 15 retailers to think differently about their business
The retail innovation program will challenge 15 retailers to think differently about their business

Why mentoring works

Kelly Slessor, who went through Investible’s accelerator program in 2016, is the first to credit face-to-face brainstorming, mentoring and support as a key factor in her own success with ShopYou.

Mentoring isn’t new, but the way it’s being delivered through the retail innovation program is a gamechanger.

“Having that kind of support network around you not only challenges your thinking but allows you to learn about everything from technologies to share agreements. Investible connects you to the right people to answer the right questions, and I loved every minute of it,” she said.

Learn from the best in the retail innovation program
Learn from the best in the retail innovation program

The program combines face-to-face learning and mentoring with innovative online modules. Each week, the participants are asked to deliver something tangible to develop their business.

Tasks include completing a mentoring session with someone in the industry, developing a financial model to show commercial viability, putting together a website or running a marketing campaign.

“You come out of that program thinking, wow, if I can do that I can do anything. You get more done in those 8 weeks than you could do on your own in months. You come out with so much more confidence and a support network.

"You have the fundamentals all ready to go, including a marketing plan, a technology framework, a commercially viable model and whatever your business requires to succeed,” she said.

“The great thing about the program is it’s really tailored to you.”

Kelly finished the program with investment, a technology partner to build a mobile app and marketing campaigns ready to go.

She will now pass on her own expertise as one of the retail experts enlisted to mentor businesses in the program.

1. Make yourself available to your customers – when they need you

“From speed and convenience to personalisation and the ability to serve a niche that would otherwise be overlooked, thinking about making yourself accessible is key,” Kelly said.

“If you have 2 working people in a family, but if retail is only open 9 to 5, then it’s not supporting that family’s needs,” she said. Adapt your business around those needs, move with the cultural shifts and your business will thrive.. Some businesses might find the answer in different operating hours, and might consider turning to tech to fill the gap when their doors close.

2. Leverage your stories

Storytelling is custom-made for small to medium retailers. "Those businesses have to build their skills in that area—that’s the number 1 thing,” Kelly said.

Stories shared on social media and digital channels can help drive people back into stores.

“The stories that come from some of those smaller brands – why they started and their purpose – is really cutting through and connecting with customers,” she said.

What kind of stories? Think about the grandparents who started with nothing and built the business, the makers behind the product, or the buying trips to markets that are the hidden (but fascinating) sides to the business.

3. Build your ethical and environmental credentials

“One of the key trends we’re seeing in the industry is the increase in demand for sustainable and ethical products and supply journey transparency. This is being driven by our access to information on poor working conditions in less developed countries and the fact that everyone is trying to be more sustainable,” Kelly said.

Adopting new sustainable practices on a practical, operational level is the obvious place to start, but don’t forget to share your story to leverage some good publicity, too.

Applications for the retail innovation program are open until 1 March 2019.

Published 11 February 2019, updated 29 February 2024