Transforming retail for the digital age

As digital transformation takes over the world, retailers everywhere need to change to survive, developing new capabilities that can drive competitiveness and growth. But what does this really involve and how do you succeed? In this article, we discuss the opportunities for the retail industry to grow, adapt and evolve to address the changing needs of customers and capture new business potential, and how First Solution can help accelerate digital transformation.

A rapidly changing landscape

Customer satisfaction and operational excellence have long been the outcomes that retailers seek to achieve. And while these priorities haven’t changed, the means to attain them is changing significantly.

In today’s digital world, disruptive technological innovations and other market forces—the empowered consumer, fierce global competition for share of wallet, merchandising and inventory changes, rapid shifts in workforce demographics and new modes of work—have catapulted the retail industry into a new era, where the standard of superior customer engagement and business performance has shifted.

With technological advancements like the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud, and advanced analytics now being part of every discussion we have with our global retail customers, we look at what’s really changed, and how organisations can best take advantage.

Transforming your business

For the first time in decades, technology has outpaced the evolution of business processes. Increasing volumes of data, advancements in data analytics and intelligence, and the ubiquity of cloud computing have shifted both what customers expect as the result of being armed with information in a way not previously possible, as well as what companies can deliver to meet those expectations and reinvent the value they offer.

As retailers navigate these new consumer expectations, what worked in the past in terms of increasing margins and creating customer loyalty isn’t going to mean success in the future. It’s not enough to just digitise paper based processes and stich together solutions that cover the seams between the digital and physical. To stay relevant and compete in this evolving industry, retailers will need to re-imagine their customer experiences and business processes from the ground up.

We call this digital transformation, implementing technology in new ways as well as cultural changes that help improve customer engagement, empower employees, optimise operations and transform products, and ultimately drive growth and opportunities for the business.

To succeed, this includes rethinking how your organisation operates and how it generates value, starting with the shopping journey and how you interact with your customers. It also means transforming your business processes with systems of intelligence that draw better insights out of data to inform more intelligent actions.

It’s also important to remember it isn’t simply about technology. Systems of intelligence represent the technology, process, and people that define an organisation’s competitiveness and ability to change the entire industry landscape. This involves giving employees the flexibility and tools they need to easily collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers around the world.

The promise of digital transformation

When information technology and operations technology converge, when products, processes and systems become connected, and when people are armed with data driven intelligence, revolutionary things can happen. Retailers can take their business in directions never before possible.

First Solution believes that true digital transformation in retail will reinvent the customer journey, providing consumer centric experiences that transcend consumers’ perceptions of how shopping works. This new, personalised customer journey requires transformation at all levels of a retail organisation, from how the customer experiences and interacts with the brand, to how it equips its employees with the information and tools they need to be most productive, to how it uses data and analytics to act on opportunities and evolve business practices.

And the opportunities to translate this into higher margins and new revenue are significant. Organisations that take the steps to embrace digital transformation to evolve how they leverage data, analytics and the cloud generate an average of
£100 million more operating income each year than those who lag behind.

Capitalise on digital transformation opportunities with First Solution

First Solution’s mission is to helps clients realise their desired business outcomes through simple, secure, and affordable IT. We build agile platforms and services so others can innovate, build their own technology, and create new solutions that make things happen. This platform approach has always been the cornerstone of First Solution’s strategy to deliver technology in ways that help our customers succeed.

Digital transformation represents the application of First Solution’s values. Helping you to reduce cost and lower risk through the effective use of technology and putting customers first with technology solutions that engage at a personal level. We simplify and consolidate a business’s people, processes and tools by providing cloud solutions designed to increase your IT operational maturity and cyber security defences. Our ambitions guide our unique approach to helping businesses along their transformation journey— ultimately changing the way they engage with customers, empower employees, optimise operations and transform their products to create better customer outcomes.

In retail, First Solution’s mission and outcomes enable you to deliver personal, seamless and differentiated experiences by empowering people, enabling the best of online and offline, and capturing insights to drive growth. Our offerings are delivered on a common platform that can span both digital and physical environments, which means that retailers can benefit from seamless connectivity between solutions across all aspects of their business. All built on one platform for ease of integration.

In our whitepaper, the future of retail in the digital age, we’ll look at the four ways First Solution’s and Microsoft’s trusted cloud helps reinvent the customer journey and accelerate transformation, as well as showcase leaders in retail that are seeing meaningful results. Are you ready to reimagine the future of retail in the digital age?