The retail c-suite is focused on automation strategies to drive customer experience and increase operational efficiency, a recent survey has found.

The need to seamlessly fuse online and offline experiences and fulfil anytime-anywhere convenience has retail executives concerned about the maturity of their customer experience and supply chain capabilities, according to new research from JDA Software.

Customer experience and supply chain maturity demands IoT technologies 


The 2019 Retail C-Suite Viewpoint Survey, in collaboration with Microsoft and conducted by retail research firm Incisiv, found that, while retailers plan to expand fulfilment options and offer infinite choice, the C-suite still struggles with core digital transformation challenges.

Executives view artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things technologies as having the widest impact on their business, enabling real-time visibility into inventory and unlocking value from customer data — all driving an elevated customer experience, increased operational efficiency and business agility.

Focus on fulfilment

The survey indicated that expanding fulfilment options to improve customer experiences and support the ‘anywhere shelf’ is critical to survival and growth. However, digital supply chain capabilities may be severely underprepared for this change.

According to the research, 78% of those surveyed do not have a real-time view of inventory across channels and half of respondents believe they do not have the right platforms and tools in place to support expanded fulfilment options.

In addition, retailers still do not have a single source of truth for their data, nor the human capital to derive insights, and nearly half (46%) do not trust their data.

“To meet customer expectations and evolve to the ‘intelligent enterprise’, concerned executives plan to invest in agility, intelligence and automation strategies and solutions”

The c-suite is demanding targeted, high-impact strategies to circumnavigate their top transformation challenges, with 48% working under the pressure of short-term goals and 41% combating organisational resistance to change.

To meet customer expectations and evolve to the ‘intelligent enterprise’, concerned executives plan to invest in agility, intelligence and automation strategies and solutions.

Cloud and AI are positioned to fuel ‘intelligent enterprise’ 


As this business agility gains importance in the digitally transforming world, cloud-based solutions are now an integral part of IT architecture.

Despite the belief among executives that the cloud has more than twice the impact on business agility than any other technology and is a key driver of the Intelligent Enterprise – along with AI – the survey found that supply chain and store systems lag in cloud adoption.

AI has both the highest rate of current experimentation (pilots) and expected future adoption across the c-suite, with respondents stating they plan to increase use in the technology by five times over the next two years.

Read the results from the 2019 Retail C-Suite Viewpoint Survey and learn why more than half of retailers are investing in AI and machine learning.


Wayne Snyder is vice-president of retail industry strategy at JDA Software