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Retailers see digital transformation as key

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Western European retailers are actively embarking on their digital transformation journey to gain competitive edge over their counterparts, according to an IDC Retail Insights study.
Currently, all the top Western European retailers are in the process of determining how digital impacts them and what their digital transformation approach and strategy should be. IDC Retail Insights sees a race to digitise taking place among the largest retailers in Europe (all of which have varying degrees of maturity) to harness the new revenue streams and retail operational efficiencies that digital transformation can provide.

The study, “Digitally Transforming Retail Businesses: The Western European Perspective”, assesses Western European retailers’ investment plans for 2015 and beyond, emphasising technologies that they will leverage to digitally transform their businesses. It discusses the key findings of IDC’s latest “European Vertical Market Survey and EMEA DX Summit Survey”, which were carried out among retail companies in Western Europe.

The study’s key findings include:

* Creating an omni-channel backbone will be the foundation of digital transformation in retail. It is essential for retail companies to have a single view of core data elements such as order, customer and inventory. They are expected to strongly focus on these areas, as demonstrated by the high percentage of new investments in them.

* Fast movers and best-in-class retailers are working hard to increasingly digitalise their physical stores. As expected, there is no single way to achieve this objective. Interestingly, Western European companies are prioritising two areas of investments — empowering sales associates with mobile capabilities and replicating personalised online engagements in-store.

* Considerable investments are expected to be made in the ecommerce space; the whole technology and business situation is rapidly evolving and pushing retailers to add more advanced capabilities to their traditional ecommerce platforms. That said, mobile commerce is the next frontier for retailers looking to optimise customer experience.

* Fulfilling complex customer order requirements across multiple and different customer touch points has recently emerged as a challenge for retailers. A wave of new investments that could provide the capabilities needed by vendors is expected to come.

“As retailers in Europe seek new ways to differentiate themselves from the increasing competition in the region, digital transformation is a train they cannot afford to miss. Today, all the top Western European retailers are in the process of determining how digital impacts them and what their digital transformation approach and strategy should be,” says Luca Bonacina, senior research analyst at IDC Retail Insights.

“Western European retailers are digitally transforming their business to address changes in both the industry and consumer engagement channels. At the moment, their focus is especially on building an omni-channel backbone and digitalising the physical store,” says Spencer Izard, head: Europe at IDC Retail Insights.