Seven enablers for successful digital transformation in retail

20 January 2017 5 min. read
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The retail industry is currently facing a significant challenge with an increasing competitive threat from online/digital-only retailers and equally digital savvy and demanding customers. Retailers need to innovate their sales models and integrate digital technologies throughout their businesses and operations.

To overcome these challenges and to stay competitive in the digital retail landscape, organisations are implementing large-scale digital transformation programmes. To help retailers effectively deliver digital transformation, experts from Wavestone – an international consulting firm with over 2,500 professionals globally – have identified seven enablers organisations need to consider for success.

1. Building the new value proposition for point of sale and the tasks of the sales force

The discussion around digital must focus on redefining the added value of the point of sale and the sales force. The following questions must be addressed: What additional services can be offered? What decision must be taken in terms of a once and done* attitude? How complementary are the added values of the physical or digital? What level of expertise should be expected from the sales force?

The positive outlook of the business and position of the employees is not a consequence of the digital transformation, but a central element of the path taken.

* The once and done approach involves dealing with all the questions a customer has altogether at the point of contact.

Seven enablers for successful digital transformation in retail
2. A clear roadmap having regularly updated milestones updates and quick wins

It is essential to build a transformation roadmap with progressive, concrete steps. At each stage of the roadmap what will the customer see? How will their experience be influenced? And for the consultant/salesperson, what will the benefits be? This roadmap must be used as a communication and planning tool. The composition of the roadmap and transformation programme should demonstrate that the same attention is given to the customer- orientated work streams and the work streams that involve the internal customers i.e. the employees.

It should also show concrete (albeit limited) results achieved within the first few months of the programme. The tunnel effect, in which the first tangible results are not achieved until after months of development, must be avoided. These milestones may take any form: new process, development of a service, signage, etc. 

3. Particular attention given to proximity management

All transformations of distribution networks we have analysed demonstrate that proximity management is the link that is most heavily impacted on in the transformation: in addition to integrating the new sales positions, organisations must assist their teams in improving their skills and the adoption of a new performance evaluation process. These groups often lack benchmarks on the latter point, and particular attention must be given to them. Training is not sufficient; other alternative approaches should be provided: tutoring, coaching, good practice exchanges.

4. Staging ‘phygital’ commerce

The design of the points of sale must emphasise the complementarity of physical/digital and must organise the switches and interactions between the two worlds. The flow of trade between the two worlds may take very different forms: tools for the salesperson providing access to the same interfaces that the customer sees on the web, self-service terminals enabling a purchase started at the point of sale to be completed on the Internet, etc.

5. Experimentation or the virtues of test and learn

The digital world is the universe of test and learn. As far as the impact of the digital world at the points of sale is concerned, the imperative is compounded by the need to find good positions vis-à-vis the customers. The successful digital transformation programmes therefore integrate multiple agile “learning” tools: co-construction of new positions with pilot consultants, customer surveys on the site, pilot points of sale, experimental corner, etc.

6. Multi-channel modernisation as a pre- requisite

The development of sales tools within the framework of a digital transformation programme will require a modern IT architecture to manage the multi-channel seamlessly and efficiently. This is a prerequisite for tool changes to accommodate new processes or services.

7. Significant investment in CRM

The planning of the work and the tool budgets must necessarily include strong growth of the projects associated with CRM: capture of customer activity at the point of sale, personalisation of the marketing campaigns at and outside the point of sale, to maximise the bounce between channels, among others.