By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
Like countless others, I spent more time at home during the pandemic. As I moved from desk to deck to kitchen table, I noticed geologic layers from other places, other times. Things I had ignored when on the run—outgrown clothes in the closet, old tech in the garage, food containers threatening to take over the kitchen—were thrown into sharp relief. I decided to reboot my house, beginning with the closets.
The first consultant who visited my house had designed closets for the same company for over 20 years. Her system would be permanently installed and built to last, she stated, with beautiful wood-finished drawers and shelving. It would also cost a fortune.
The next specialist worked at a retail store that sold a variety of closet systems, ranging from utilitarian to luxurious. After reviewing my closet photos and requirements, she designed a plan that met my needs without exceeding my budget. Happily, materials were in stock, enabling me to swiftly complete the project. Throughout my closet transformation experience, I found the same foundational principles apply to good design, whether physical or digital. For example, the best designs are:
After a year of living virtually, it was a treat to embark on a physical project enhanced by digital commerce. Loyalty rewards, curbside pickup and online reviews were all part of the experience and inspired me to learn more about the retailer I ultimately used. I listened to the audiobook Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives by Kip Tindell, founder and chief executive officer of The Container Store.
Tindell used seven foundation principles to build his business, believing that if business is fun and sustainable, profit will inevitably follow. These principles, also summarized on the company's website, are designed to reward all stakeholders, from employees and vendors to customers and shareholders, he stated.
"Retail is far, far too situational to attempt to achieve anything through inflexible rules and policies," states The Container Store's website. "So, instead of using the typical phone-book-sized retail procedural manual to guide our decision making, we use these Foundation Principles to keep us on track, focused and fulfilled as employees."
Following is a list of The Container Store's seven Foundation Principles:
I've seen the same principles at play at leading retailers and financial service providers, especially during the recent pandemic, when people put aside their differences to help each other. In interviewing payments industry leaders, I found numerous examples of payments industry professionals helping retailers, restaurateurs and hoteliers survive a global business shutdown.
The pandemic provided a proving ground for payment technologies originally designed to be fun and convenient that were hastily deployed to meet essential needs. A June 2021 study by JPMorgan and FreedomPay, titled Preparing for the Return of Demand: How America's Retail & Hospitality Elite Tackle Disruption with New Commerce Investment, surveyed 50 senior executives to understand how the pandemic impacted technology investments and infrastructure.
Survey respondents became more willing to take risks during the crisis, according to the report, and rewarded companies that stepped in to help them. Executives surveyed plan to focus on "multi-dimensional, interconnected needs" in future technology investments, researchers found.
"COVID-19 has moved the vendor relationship from supplier to partner," researchers wrote. "At the same time, it has increased stakeholder appetite for rapid innovation, creating new openings for niche suppliers and startups." Software and hardware partners helped in-house teams with design, project management, training and compliance, they added.
Going forward, payments industry partners will continue to shape our collective future, helping retailers make commerce more flexible, connected, interactive and secure. As a journalist who will never run out of stories and a consumer who will happily engage with cool new products for years to come, I eagerly await more principled disruptions.
Dale S. Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet and managing director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content strategist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @DSLdirect.
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