Retail vs insurance


So why am I talking about this?

Well I’ve always worked in retail – for 10 years in fact – but now I find my self working in insurance.

Since having started I’ve found that friends and family have been asking me if it’s any different and the answer to that is YES!! But why? Well this is what I’ve found.


The pace of work is completely different. Working in retail is all about trade so if trade is bad then traders want to change messages onsite or the promotion advertised online. This might happen at the Monday morning trade meeting if trade’s been bad over the weekend.  This could mean the messages and designs that were signed off the previous Friday to go live on the Tuesday will be scrapped! This means very last minute changes and re-designs!

Although we work to speed in insurance, it’s not quite as last-minute!  We have pre-planned sprint cycles we work to so I know what’s coming up next.

In-house vs agency

In the past I’ve worked in-house for one brand which means only working with one style guide at a time. Now working in RSA Digital, I work on lots of partner’s sites. This means I have to work on numerous style guides and be familiar with lots of journeys.  It’s nice to have the variety.

On-shore vs off-shore dev

In the past I’ve worked with the development teams in our offices or in a nearby office, meaning we could just go and talk to them and tell them about our designs and what we wanted.

Sometimes I now work with offshore development teams. This means I’ve learnt how to annotate and animate my screens to make sure we all understand what’s needed and that there’s no confusion about the journey or interactions. I’ve learnt how to communicate page interactions, or animations of buttons.

Reaction vs planned

Retail is constantly reacting. As I mentioned before not just on a trade side of things, but reacting to competitors, the weather, and stock supplies. This meant that the design team, content team and production team had to constantly re-design, re-work and re-look at whether the messages online would make the maximum sales.  In insurance we also do a lot of optimisation of messages and design, but it’s focused more on user-experience.

Days/weeks vs weeks/months

Without realising it when working in retail my projects were very quick, sometimes hours, days and hardly ever weeks. Work would go live very quickly and also not be online for very long as everything in retail has a very short shelf-life.

Some of our projects here at RSA are much longer – I’ve been on one project now which won’t go live until spring next year! Our work at RSA Digital is detailed and sometimes complex work – but once it’s live, it will exist for a very long time so it needs to be right.

Non-agile vs agile

Having joined RSA Digital I have learnt about agile ways of working and it’s become clear that working in retail we never ever worked like this.

Here we work in agile scrum teams in two week sprints, and within that time you’ll finish the work you’ve committed to deliver. In retail we adopted quick wins like daily stand-ups within our team and used Trello (rather than Jira which we use now) in a Kanban-style approach, which is like working on a continuous ‘To-do’ list.

In-store and online vs online only

Working in retail I worked in the digital teams but also with an in-store team. Historically in-store used to always come up with the marketing campaigns across all customer touch-points; window displays, point of sale, online and social. Its rather nice now working in a team where digital is king.

Want vs need

Retail is pretty much an industry, especially with fashion, where customers want to browse, and want to buy. Insurance is a journey where customers ‘have to buy’ and therefore the kind of journey you’re creating is completely different.  It’s been interesting to work on brands from this other perspective.

No UX vs UX

I now work with experienced UX designers. In retail we didn’t have actual UX designers or a UX team. Perhaps things have moved on now, but it’s a breath of fresh air learning and working with the UX team – user experience is critical in any customer experience or journey.

Seasons vs quarters

Without realising it this is my first year not working on Christmas!!!! And believe me that doesn’t make me sad…at all!!!

It’s always very very stressful as that’s the one time of year retailers need to hit sales targets. It’s not just about Christmas though anymore – Black Friday is now BIGGER than ever!   This year I’ll be less worried about how sales are performing or whether the site will crash with the amount of traffic!! 

We work in quarters rather than seasons at RSA…..and this makes me very happy and more relaxed in comparison.

I’m so glad I worked in retail and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in London working for retailers, but I’d come to a point where I wanted a change. You might think working in insurance is boring or dull or perhaps not particularly interesting but I would have to disagree with you there.

I’m designing for websites that make huge amounts of money, but that also give a customer an easy and smooth journey to purchase. I am working with analysts and UX designers to make sure that my designs are the best they can be and constantly pushing and thinking about the best customer journey. I’m able to spend time researching button designs, interactions and new cutting edge UI design. Insurance is a very important purchase so I’m pretty pleased to have the job of designing journeys that need to be important too! 🙂

If you’d like to find out more about working at RSA Digital, why not drop us a note.