Retail DX banks on online-to-offline customer experience

More than two-thirds of retailers in nine countries see digital transformation (DX) as essential to retail technology, and only 7% disagree, according to a Fujitsu study.

With online and physical shopping experiences moving closer together, results from the research by DataDriven for Fujitsu confirm that most DX is now well under way at most retailers.

Finance departments are leading the way, with a mature implementation in place or well under way among 63% of respondents. Sales (62%), customer service (59%) and frontline retail operations (also 59%) are close behind.

“The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated retail trends that were already advancing – and are now unstoppable,” said Richard Clarke, executive director of global retail at Fujitsu. “That finance teams are leading the way along with sales and customer service reflects the strategic importance to the bottom line of an effective DX implementation.”

Results show that retailers increasingly introducing online sales, with more than one-third (34%) now offering the majority of their products and services online – a trend accelerated by the global COVID-19 crisis.

Many retailers are operating a hybrid online and physical model which relies on initiatives such as “buy online, pick-up in-store” (BOPIS), with almost two thirds (64%) of retailers agreeing that online and physical retail continue to move closer together.

Online and physical retail are also moving closer as retail data — such as current inventory levels of product – become more available to buyers, and almost seven in 10 retailers (69%) also seeing this as a positive move for vendors.

Another factor is cost reduction — most prominently in logistics, warehousing and transportation — which is noted by 21% of respondents. Other areas where DX is reducing costs are in finance (20%), maintenance (20%), operations (19%), ICT (18%) and retail operations (18%).

In customer service, 29% of respondents report an improvement. Other customer-facing areas to show improvement are call centre (19%), marketing (16%) and workplace innovation (16%).

In terms of DX technology choices, cloud is an increasing important component of ICT processing in retail. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the most popular application source (32%), but significant numbers of retailers are sticking with in-house processing (24%) or off-the-shelf enterprise applications (18%).