European retailers going digital for a competitive edge

Perhaps more than any other type of business, retailers are always keen to gain an advantage over their competitors. A new study by IDC suggests that they're increasingly turning to technology in order to stay ahead.

It reveals that 64 per cent of retailers in Western Europe are currently undertaking some form of digital transformation effort while 21 per cent are planning to do so by the end of the year.

Among other findings are that it's essential for retail companies to have a single view of core data elements such as orders, customer details, and inventory. They are expected to strongly focus on these areas, a view backed by the high percentage of new investments in them.

Retailers are increasingly seeking to add digital elements to their physical stores, though there's no single way to achieve this objective. Western European companies are prioritising two areas of investments -- empowering sales associates with mobile capabilities and replicating personalised online engagements in-store.

IDC expects to see considerable investments made in the eCommerce space. The technology and business situation is rapidly evolving and pushing retailers to add more advanced capabilities to their traditional eCommerce platforms. However, they're also expected to embrace mobile commerce to optimise customer experience.

There's a challenge for retailers to fulfil complex customer order requirements across multiple platforms and customer interfaces. This is expected to trigger a wave of new investments to provide the capabilities needed.

"As retailers in Europe seek new ways to differentiate themselves from the increasing competition in the region, digital transformation is a train they cannot afford to miss. Today, all the top Western European retailers are in the process of determining how digital impacts them and what their digital transformation approach and strategy should be," says Luca Bonacina, senior research analyst, IDC Retail Insights.

The full report Digitally Transforming Retail Businesses: The Western European Perspective is available from the IDC website.

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