How can retailers ensure their digital strategy is really working?

The rise of digital has triggered a sea change in business strategies across all sectors, but retail has arguably experienced the most fundamental shift.

Today’s omnichannel, agile customer experience and delivery model is disrupting the way retailers and customers engage, interact and transact.

Addleshaw Goddard’s payments team leader Will James says: “We hear the word ‘digital’ constantly nowadays.

“Banks, retailers and manufacturers are all apparently busy being digital; however, if you ask someone to define digital you get some fairly unconvincing answers.”

Most systems are digital in that the information they process is represented electronically and can be accessed or used via an electronic device. This, however, is not an innovation or a strategy; it is merely a description of a means of dealing with information.

“Digital can be more accurately expressed as the integration of data and the means by which you leverage those integrated data flows,” James suggests. “A digital strategy is concerned with the manner in which you collate, analyse, extrapolate, integrate and then use all the stuff your business needs, produces and creates.”

Most businesses will use a number of digital systems, ranging from ecommerce to electronic stock management and ordering. However, while these systems are all digital, they cannot be said to form part of a digital strategy unless they integrate with each other.

“Digital systems and processes will generally speak to each other in some shape or form, such as point-of-sale speaking to stock and logistics to provide accurate delivery times,” says James.

“However, digital transformation can only be achieved if all relevant engagements, interactions and transactions are configured to provide a seamless and frictionless experience at every touch-point – that should be the ultimate aim of a digital strategy.”