Testing to Learn

How trying something, then analyzing the results leads to success in launching new ideas.

August 11, 2021

Test Learn Repeat Convenience Matters

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The convenience and fuel retail industry has a rich history of successful innovations, but for all those that worked, there were many ideas that flopped.

“You’ve got to get enough [ideas] in the top of the funnel in order to have some ones pop off the bottom,” said Andy Ellwood, founder of Basket, on this week’s Convenience Matters, “Test, Learn, Repeat.

Coupled with generating lots of ideas is being able to be adaptable, what a friend of Ellwood’s called the adaptability question. “How adaptable are you in the moment? … With the speed with which things are changing right now, there’s going to be a lot more adaptability quotient decisions on the move forward.”

With his work at Basket, Ellwood started with an understanding at the macro level the way different people made the decision of where to shop, including which store and whether they would shop in-person or online. In figuring that out for Basket, he learned how important testing is, along with verification.

“Try something, but set a hypothesis for what you’re actually testing it for,” Ellwood said. “Don’t just try to jump on a bandwagon, because if you’re just jumping on a bandwagon because that’s what people are telling you to do, there’s not really a way to objectively understand if it worked or not.”

It’s a very noisy, crowded space out there, so retailers need to be smart about what they’re willing to invest in new ideas. “I see a lot of people swing and miss on testing something new, but they don’t ever set parameters for how they’ll know if it worked,” he said. “Instead, they’re expecting it to revolutionize the whole business. … Test first.”

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 290 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than a quarter million times by listeners around the world.