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Digital transformation ‘driving unstoppable shifts in retail’

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Digital transformation is being accepted as essential in the retail sector, with finance departments leading the way as the virus pandemic accelerates the pace of change, according to new research.

5 predictions for retail in 2021

The global study released today by Fujitsu found that more than two-thirds of retailers in nine countries1 see DX as essential to retail technology, and only 7% disagree.

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.

Richard Clarke, Executive Director, Global Retail at Fujitsu comments: “The retail industry is a lens through which we can see clearly many of the deep changes impacting society and the way we live. The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated retail trends that were already advancing – and are now unstoppable. The new Fujitsu study shows that retailers are responding determinedly to these forces and are well on the path towards digital transformation. We commissioned this survey to provide deeper insights into how DX is gripping retail – and the fact 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.”

Online and physical retail continue to move closer

DX is underpinning strategic shifts in retail identified in the global study. These include:

  • Retailers increasingly introducing online sales. More than one third (34%) now offer the majority of their products and services online – a trend accelerated by the global COVID-19 crisis

  • Many retailers 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

  • Opening up the availability of retail data to buyers, such as current inventory levels of product – with almost seven in 10 retailers (69%) also seeing this as a positive move for vendors

Further impacts of DX on retailers:

  • Cost reduction, most prominently in logistics, warehousing and transportation, 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%).

Public cloud is outpacing private and hybrid cloud

In terms of DX technology choices, Cloud is an increasingly 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%).

Despite the massive attention given to cloud computing over the last decade, very few retailers believe it is overhyped. If anything, they say it is not being given the attention it deserves. Cloud skeptics are mainly the retailers who have retained most of their processing in-house.

AI has a big future in retail and the Internet of Things will be important – but not just yet

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly important in retail, with two thirds (69%) regarding it as an opportunity and only a slightly smaller number (66%) believing it will result in a better quality of life and allow for the creation of new jobs. Although technologies associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) have many applications in retail, adoption is still slow, although 69% believe the technology will eventually revolutionise retail.

Empowering retailers to design their future transformation

Fujitsu believes in empowering customers to design their future transformation – to ensure they can best address strategic priorities and maximise shareholder experience. Fujitsu’s Co-creating program offers retailers the opportunity to harness the power of purpose-driven collaboration, and leverage Fujitsu’s human-centric experience design (HXD) to derive greater business value through better informed DX-related investments and decisions. Fast-paced, highly-focused co-creation sessions, led by trained FUJITSU HXD practitioners, provide retailers with the time, space, and empowerment to shape their transformation, mapped against a clear future business purpose. Offered virtually, these sessions span timezones, with customers contributing the commitment of time, diversity of participants and a transformation-driven mindset.

View the report here


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