In games of strategy, the players that win most often are those who use many different strategies effectively. But no matter how many tricks they keep in their arsenal, brilliant strategists always rely on one key approach: responsiveness.

Historians are basically unanimous in naming Alexander the Great as the best military leader in history. Alexander’s superiority stands out in several ways: he chose brilliant sub-commanders, he inspired loyalty in his armies, he always surprised his enemies, and he used his resources to maximum advantage. But most of all he was adaptable.

Alexander took his army of Macedonians and battled his away across the continent of Asia. Along the way, he fought in many different environments and settings, and against armies with diverse specialties and weapons. In each new confrontation, Alexander took the tools he had, and he adjusted them to the situation at hand to gain the advantage.

In order to achieve this level of adaptability, Alexander knew he needed all the right information to know how to respond. So he created the most advanced intelligence network of any military leader up until that point in history. An intricate system of horses couriers, carrier pigeons, and fire beacons kept him informed on everything that was happening in his kingdom, as well as in those countries he was about to attack. At the same time, he always fought on the front lines of the wars he waged, so he knew exactly what his soldiers were experiencing.

Competitive Strategies for Collaboration

As much as it may feel like it sometimes, retailing isn’t a war. For companies seeking to take advantage of the opportunities created by Big Data, the keyword is collaboration, not competition. With hard information beating out intuition, retailers and manufacturers need to work together — not against each other — to adapt to changing shopper behavior.

All that being so, retailing is evolving rapidly in the digital era, and everyone is feeling the pressure to keep up with the changes. Business decision-makers need to be more strategic than ever, as brick-and-mortars merge with eCommerce and customers shop more and more with phone in hand. Even if staying competitive means cooperating with each other, companies that fail to adjust their strategies won’t end up with the kind of rich databases and powerful analytics they need to collaborate with other strong companies that are responding to consumer demands.

It’s worth noticing, therefore, the principles that made Alexander the Great such a successful strategist. Three key techniques stand out:

  • he adapted to the environment
  • he prioritized good intelligence
  • he relied on his team.

In terms of modern retail execution, all those factors converge on your field representatives, going from store to store to ensure compliance and monitor what’s happening on the ground.

Taking a Frontline Approach to Retail Execution

Just like Alexander’s sub-commanders, the field reps are the people that make sure the plan that was developed at the office is actually what’s happening at the store. They’re also the people that collect the vital intelligence on what’s working and what other companies are doing.

Unfortunately, most field reps have had to work half-blind, since information about product sell-through and other key metrics have traditionally bogged down in antiquated data transmission processes, such as paper tracking and spreadsheets.

With such challenges to visibility, the top strategy for retail success in the digital era is also one of the oldest: putting the leaders at the front line. Just like Alexander standing with his infantry, executives need to line up with their field reps to see exactly what’s happening on the shelf. It’s only with that comprehensive in-store awareness secured that retail players can arrive at the kind of responsiveness they need in such a fast-moving environment.

Now that mobile technology is allowing sales to visualize all the key data on location, simply by scanning the barcode into their phone or tablet, all of these strategies for retail execution success are instantly available to every level of an organization through cloud-based platforms. Key decision-makers don’t need to travel to every store in order to gain frontline visibility—it’s right there in their hands.

To see what opportunities for improved retail execution success you can achieve through mobile-powered technology, watch a demo of Askuity’s retail intelligence platform.