Should we not rethink the role of the Department Supervisor? Why the MS platform is ready for the “New Retail”?

Summary: when I rebuilt my bathroom, the bathroom department supervisor is for me the most important person in the store… Fan of comics, the comics department supervisor is for me the most important person in my relationship with the cultural goods store. Is the industrial hierarchical organization of the store ready to follow me? To get a better engagement from customers and employees we have to change the deal! The Microsoft platform is the first ready for this revolution. And you, are you ready? If not the giants of internet will continue to bump you. We’re switching from push to pull, welcome in the mesh economy


CDiscount innovates and breaks a basic of mass trade and moved closer to the expectations of its customers and created new excitation for their Department Supervisor. Cdiscount is the leader of ecommerce in France, +1.5billion of revenue competing directly with Amazon. And to increase their leadership, the innovation is in their DNA. This is why they have anticipated this movement with Microsoft breaking a legacy pattern.

CDiscount is the first big retailer to dare breaking the walls, inheritance of physical stores. The vast majority of retailers replicate in the digital world, Web sites and Applications, the organization of physical stores. And whether you are using the Web site or using an application, you remain forced when seeking a department, to pass through the front door and navigate the shelves to find the one you’re looking for. For example if I appreciate the comics why in the digital world should I continue to suffer the main entrance door and why not to get a direct access to the department? And if I’ve got a project for my bathroom, why I should systematically go through the decoration department, paint department, light department, floor department, before reaching the bathroom department?

It is urgent in a society where some consumers looking for more commitment in brands to break the walls, and leave them define the relation with the retailers according with their expectations. The better your consumer is engaged in a brand, the more loyal he is.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone platforms allow users, if permitted by the retailer, to pin as shortcuts, direct entry points in the application and then in the store. Thus the user of an application can, if the distributor authorizes it, get a direct access to a selected department avoiding the main entrance.


Illustration of this revolution for retail with the Windows8 Application by Cdiscount.

You install the application Cdiscount


You enter in the application by the main entrance (the page contains the promotions, advertising, and commercials)


You’re looking for a department


You pin it, and it appears on your main screen

The live tile associated with the selected department informs you permanently ongoing operations


By clicking on the live tile you directly enter in the department avoiding to go through the main entry.

And your main interlocutor at Cdiscount is now the department supervisor and it is to him to introduce you to the rest of the offer under the prism of his department. For example pushing items from another department in the tile.

CDiscount is today, the only one to have committed this revolution. Other retailers, having a Windows Phone or Windows 8, and after heavy discussions notably with their HR management are not ready to engage this revolution until now…


Why is it revolutionary?

Because the client will be able to take the lead on the relationship with the brand, choosing the doors of the store, his main interlocutor and the kind of communication he wants. The client has no longer to be under the brand dictate, he takes the lead. Welcome in the “pull” society! The mesh economy!

But the most impactful is for the brands. They have to reconsider their management, their organizational behavior. In a traditional organization, the hierarchy is strong and the main manager handles the front door or the landing pages, then the second level of manager drive the departments, and third level the categories in the department …. To sum up a traditional industrial, hierarchical, approach of the “push” society. If now the customer can choose the entrance doors, it is certain that the supervisor of the selected department will become for him the most important person in the store. This department supervisor will have to welcome the client and will have the responsibility to promote the rest of the store under the prism of his department. And the other department will have to serve him. There will be no hierarchy but a community of interests and passion!

Process and hierarchy will be overtaken by people engagement and connection. Return On Community will lead the Return on Investment.

Fan of comics, the department manager becomes my main interlocutor, and he must therefore introduce to me the rest of the store, DVD, books… under the prism of the comics. And if the department manager is passionate he should be able to develop his potential more efficiently. His job will become more exciting than today… And that’s key for his performance and the performance of the store. And he could have a new objective, the ROC (Return On Community (see Zappos)). That is a very important point because the commitment of the associates is the main challenge for companies today in the digital society notably to identify and develop new opportunities.

This proposition for new patterns and practices is a real disruption for retailers. But after lot of discussions, workshops, with CxO and HR teams of French retailers, I am convinced that this mutation, this revolution, is inevitable:

  • Customers are ready for a higher commitment, engagement with selected retailers if they drive the relation
  • The customers are moving from products to services – seamless retail – and to buy services you must be in trust
  • Employee’s commitments are key for retailer performance – no future for the stores without happy associates
  • We’re moving from a “push” to a “pull” society, agility and personal empowerments are core
  • Roc, Return On Community strategy, leveraging local presence and emotion by human relationship will be key to compete the giants of the Web

New generations of platforms Windows8, Windows Phone, are technically ready to assist retailers in this revolution which is to reinvent his business in the digital society, the society of commitment. It is up to retailers to change the way they drive their behavior now …

If retailers do not decide to offer their customers the opportunity to choose their doors… The customer will continue to visit, the competitors, searching and social networking giants, finding entry shortcuts… Which is the best way to lose the data and business war …

Revolution in the digital society is probably more about the organization and leading change than in IT. However the Microsoft platform, devices + Services, is a fantastic enabler embedding the roots of this revolution.

I do not know really what it is possible…but it is clear that when I rebuilt my bathroom, the bathroom department supervisor is for me the most important person in the store…

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