Retailers prioritise digital transformation but lack clear strategy

Although retailers are firmly committed to waltzing up the digital express aisle, they are less certain of their exact strategy and 83 per cent – more than in any other sector – fear their digital transformation investments are an all-out gamble.

These findings were revealed in new research from Fujitsu after surveying the opinions of European retail leaders on their commitment to digitalisation. Despite citing omnichannel digital transformation as a top priority, nearly three-quarters of retailers admitted to playing digital catch-up.

The research found that four in five retailers want to move faster toward digital adoption, believing that failing to do so will lead to sweeping penalties including reduced market responsiveness, higher relative costs impacting pricing and revenues, and major problems with customer retention.

True digital transformation will require retailers to rethink every aspect of their businesses from vendors to personalised customer experiences, including all processes and technologies, to achieve their goals.

“As online and physical worlds come even closer together, the development of ‘the connected store’ will become a key differentiator for retailers,” said Richard Clarke, global retail director, strategy and business development, Fujitsu.

“Retailers are under extreme and constant pressure to head down the ‘Digital Express Aisle’.”

SAP’s new global head of retail industry business unit, Achim Schneider, is up for the challenge, with his role focused on helping SAP customers transform their businesses to derive value while getting closer to their customers.

“Retail is an industry that is under tremendous pressure to fulfil consumer expectations,” said Lori Mitchell-Keller, global general manager, consumer industries, SAP. “The digital core in retailing is fundamental to meeting these expectations.”

The Fujitsu research uncovered a few wrinkles in the smooth fabric of support for digital transformation. For example, only one in three respondents believed digital priorities are fully aligned within their organisation and there is disagreement about who the digital driver is – with only a quarter believing it is the CEO. Despite belief in the importance of digital transformation, only one in four is extremely confident in making the right choices and one in three respondents said they believe they are already over-spending on digital projects.