The Retail Operations Canvas: User Guide

A New Tool to Guide Retail Operations and Team Planning

Your organization looks nothing like it did 5 years ago. As retail continues to rapidly transform, demands increase, roles evolve, and business philosophies shift--without the luxury of precedence. To successfully embrace the future of retail, you must first find a way to assess your organization’s unique people, process, and technology needs.

Welcome to the Retail Operations Canvas. This tool visually captures the key operational steps involved in a successful retail enterprise, provides an extended view of the traditional product-centric value chain, and offers a more holistic, customer-focused approach to operational activities. By eliminating job titles and hierarchy from the equation, we help you focus on capabilities, decision points, and workflow while revealing the impact of any proposed changes. 

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Your organization looks nothing like it did 10, or even 5 years ago. In the digital world, requirements can change before you have even finished writing a job description. As retail rapidly transforms, you cannot look to the past — or to others — to chart the best path forward. 

While it’s tempting to look for best practice examples from similar brands, that is likely not the best approach for your business. Because your culture and operations are distinct,  you should focus on identifying the right workflow and capabilities for your organization. You need new tools to help you assess your people, process, and technology needs in ways that help your business uniquely innovate and grow. 

This fact inspired us to develop the Retail Operations Canvas, which visually captures the key operational steps involved in establishing a successful retail enterprise. Specifically, the canvas eliminates job titles and hierarchy from the equation and helps you focus on your organization’s capabilities, decision points, and workflow, while considering the impact of possible changes on your operational strategy and individuals’ aptitudes. 

The canvas takes an extended view of the traditional product-centric organization, and maps a more holistic and customer-focused perspective on an organization’s operational activities. 

This document shows you how to use the Retail Operations Canvas to design the most appropriate team for your particular context. We outline three situations we see in many retail operations, and walk you through how to address them using our tool. 

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