Retailers need to shift tech investment away from front-end capabilities and focus on back-end capabilities, former House of Fraser CIO Julian Burnett has warned.

Retailers must strike a balance between front-end customer experience and back-end efficiency, Burnett – who left the retailer in March to consult for a number of businesses, before joining IBM as retail sector leader in June – has told Retail Week.

“Some are struggling to find that balance,” he added.

Speaking as part of Retail Week’s new Connected Commerce 2020 vodcast series, Burnett advised retailers to prioritise technology investments in back-office areas such as buying, merchandising, distribution and inventory optimisation.

“Investment in areas such as APIs could help deliver a more connected experience”

“I think some have chased the money towards online retailing and that has often been at the expense of the more fundamental investment that a retailer could have made in its underlying operating model and the systems that actually translate demand into profit.”

“It’s about the basics,” agreed international ecommerce consultant Guy Hipwell.

Investment in areas such as APIs – which integrate different software components together to share functionality of data – could help deliver a more connected experience, he said.

These are just some of the insights Burnett and Hipwell shared in episode one of this vodcast series, where they were joined by Apigee head of digital strategy EMEA Oliver Ogg.

Watch a preview of episode one below.