Systems, skills and simplification are hot topics for retailers when it comes to their digital outlook for the year ahead.
This trio were repeatedly considered at a recent Retail Week roundtable in collaboration with Adobe, where the findings from Adobe and Econsultancy’s Digital Trends Report were discussed.
It became clear across the course of the morning that, while keeping up with customer expectations is at the forefront of many retailers’ minds, others are looking to go back to basics.
The chief customer officer at one department store chain said: “It’s not about having an ecommerce site or team anymore, it’s about being digital and you need an entirely new infrastructure for that.”
However, she added: “Simplification is the key word and legacy systems can be problematic in the back-end.”
A member of the digital technology team from a top grocer explained that legacy systems are a problem for many retailers as they continue with their digital transformation.
“You may look digital to the customer, but some of it is smoke and mirrors while we go on that journey to re-platform,” she says.
Investing for growth
The need for change, however, requires buy-in from the board in order to receive the necessary investment.
“It’s difficult to demonstrate return on investment to the board level,” said the IT director of a pure play retailer.
“You can very easily look at all the lovely trends and run after them, but it’s a question of what’s going to work for you and employing the right technology for you.”
“The simpler you keep the user experience online, the higher the conversion. It’s a myth that consumers are looking for the latest technology”
IT director of a pure play retailer
“There are always tough choices and trade-offs, you need a big dose of realism and pragmatism,” added the department store chief customer officer.
“The simpler you keep the user experience online, the higher the conversion. It’s a myth that consumers are looking for the latest technology.”
“It’s all about getting the basics right,” added the digital manager of a grocer. “If you can’t do the basics right – get them to add something to a basket and pay – then you can’t move on and add all the bells and whistles.”
Getting your online proposition right and creating an experience your customer will remember for all the right reasons is a key consideration for the majority of retailers.
“Customer experience is part of your brand and if you get it wrong then it damages your brand and if you get it right then it can do great things for your reputation,” said the representative from a department store chain.
The power of people
A great reputation cannot be built without the right people.
The IT director of a pureplay business said: “Elements of digital are moving so fast, especially digital marketing and so people are learning on the job.
“People aren’t confident about their digital skills, those of their colleagues or their company”
Vijayanta Gupta, Adobe
“It’s a very rapidly moving market and there is a lack of experts out there but it is all about understanding your customer.”
Vijayanta Gupta, head of product and industry marketing at Adobe explains there is a lot of hesitancy around the skills individuals possess.
“People aren’t confident about their digital skills, those of their colleagues or their company.”
Therefore training needs to take place regularly, explained Gupta, and peer-to-peer learning is also particularly important. “It’s all about transforming an organisation from the inside out,” he says.
The marketing head from a menswear retailer added: “People are the key driver of success and they need to have the right attitude towards change. Unless the rest of the organisation believes in the change and understands the philosophy, digital change cannot happen.
“When it comes to people, it’s not just skills but also the mindset.”