Ever-changing landscape

What can Formula 1 teach us about success in retail?

Here at Worldpack, we love Formula 1. The high-energy, high-octane thrills where anything could change in a split second – it’s often hard to see beyond the drama that gets us all hooked. But if you look a little closer, Formula 1 is a well-oiled machine where stability, teamwork and technology play a part in the frantic operation and excitement that we see on the outside.

“Formula One is not sport. Formula One is only intense competition between teams where the competition is really the research, the technology,” says Alex Zanardi, former Formula 1 driver.  

These lessons are also applicable to retail. What the customer sees on the surface, reflects the work that is happening behind-the-scenes to ensure that their experience is one of satisfaction and success. And your competition is your ability to thrive in an increasingly turbulent supply chain landscape.

What lessons can we take from Formula 1 that will enable retail to thrive in an ever-changing landscape?


They sweat the small stuff

Head over to Formula 1’s Technical web page and you’ll be blown away by the amount of insight into the smallest details that make a big impact to performance. How does altitude affect engines? What impact does rear suspension movement have on a car’s straight-line speed? These minute-detail examples are what sets apart the successful teams. Sweating the small stuff, can often have the biggest impact.

In retail, the same applies. It’s often the smallest, overlooked details that can have a big impact on how you operate, how your customers feel about your brand and how much revenue you’re bringing in. In an experiment run by Amazon, they moved their credit card offers from the homepage of their website to the shopping cart page and saw their revenue increase by tens of millions annually.

Small changes like these may seem inconsequential on the surface, but curiosity over the smaller aspects of retail can pay dividends.

The British-based homeware chain B&M has navigated recent supply chain issues by importing key product ranges earlier and having critical conversations with suppliers. While there is nothing ground-breaking about their approach, these few small tweaks to their strategy have seen their French sales increase by over 10% and overall revenue by 26.8% on 2019.


Invest in technology

Picture for a moment that you’re in the pit at a Formula 1 race. You’ve got approximately 2.5 seconds to refuel the car, change its tyres, make any repairs and mechanical adjustments. But you’ve only been given an old spanner and a can of fuel.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But that’s what you’re asking of your retail teams when you don’t give them the tools and technology to do their jobs efficiently. And alongside it, that’s when your brand image can rapidly come undone. Investing in technology isn’t a nice-to-have in Formula 1, it’s a necessity because they understand the benefits of it.

Whether it’s upgrading your EPOS systems in-store, changing your warehouse management and stock inventory software or providing touch screen facilities for customers in retail spaces the benefits outweigh the costs.

Modivo, in Warsaw, Poland, has just launched its first fully-automated store – there’s no stock on display and customers place their orders through an in-store tablet, where they appear behind a screen in the changing room.  

Dariusz Sobczak, Board Member, Nanovo, explained: “The retail sector, in the future, will see some incredible changes. MODIVO fits into this transformation by offering its customers a top-of-the-line omnichannel model. It comes down to transferring the experience that customers know from the online world to a physical store’s space.”

Much as the driver’s experience and imperatives drives Formula 1’s investment in technology, in retail, so does the customer’s experience and wish lists.



Much like Formula 1 success is not solely down to the driver, neither is retail success purely down to the sales team. A consumer’s experience of a retail brand is not defined by their in-store interaction or online shopping experience. Delivery networks, salespeople, warehouse teams, marketing departments, visual merchandisers – the list of individuals who impact on your customer’s experience is endless.

In Formula 1, the driver’s experience is reliant on the team – dieticians, pit teams, marketing executives, airlines, shipping companies, race organisers, race officials...you get the idea. Trust and teamwork are key to delivering excellence, both in Formula 1 and in retail. And it’s important to remember that your customer is also part of your team.

In a recent report by McKinsey, they highlighted the Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona as a pillar of successful teamwork in retail. It states: “Mercadona has excelled at new-product development over the past few decades. The company maintains a constant dialogue with customers in an effort to identify and meet consumer needs: 180 in-store monitors across Spain collect requests and suggestions, and the company has 12 laboratories where it conducts market research. Products are then co-developed with suppliers, which means that supplier selection is a critical factor; best-in-class suppliers have advanced innovation capabilities, often developed through manufacturing partnerships with A-brands.”

McKinsey highlights the need for retailers to master four key capabilities (consumer-led brand strategy, new product development, category management and end-to-end execution) in order to thrive in what they call retail’s ‘fourth wave’ of growth and it should come as no surprise that all four of these capabilities rely on teamwork at their core to be successful.

As the report states: “Delivering the strategy—getting the right products on shelves at the right times—requires a coordinated approach across all relevant teams and stakeholders, as well as efficient end-to-end execution.”


If you’re wondering how to take a Formula 1 approach to your retail brand, speak with one of our account managers who can help you make strategic changes for success. You can email us at online@worldpack.eu or ring us on +31(0) 88 494 20 80.

Matthijs Buitenhuis
Account Manager

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