Are you a retail disruptor?

With annual growth in retail sales slowing to just 2.1 per cent, this year hasn’t gotten off to a great start with year-to-date sales results coming in below market expectations.

As the retail industry is going through some significant changes as new technologies are reshaping the landscape, many retailers know they need to adapt to this new market.

However, according to research by JDA Software the customer is at the centre of everything and unlocking insight into customers’ preferences, shopping habits and fulfilment needs will be the key to retailers’ success.

“The results of this survey are clear: disruptors are finding new ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive landscape and often they are more willing to sacrifice a faster growth trajectory to achieve the customer experience shoppers expect,” explains Patrick Viney, vice president of retail strategy, Australia at JDA.

“Retail disruptors realise that technology is a strategic enabler and not just a cost to be managed. This will be absolutely critical to success in an evolving and turbulent time for retailers.”

Retail disruptors have stores, are found all over the world and invest strategically in technology. There are three factors that make them disruptive: they provide the highest-quality products and services (53 per cent); they are much faster and more responsive than traditional retailers (51 per cent) and they have fundamentally changed the customer experience (42 per cent).

“Disruptors are more willing to implement new technology to improve the customer experience, but they’re also quick to change course when they don’t see benefits they anticipated. And disruptors right-size to home in on the right technology mix that yields the best shopping experience,” notes Viney.

The Retail Disruptors Survey also confirms that bricks and mortar is not going away any time soon: 87 per cent of disruptors and 79 per cent of non-disruptors have a physical retail store presence and will continue to open stores in the future. The key to instore success lies in creating experiential retail.

“So, where do Australian retailers go from here, especially if they want to be disruptors? Focus, focus, focus all your attention on your customer and figure out how and why they shop with you. It will be important to strike the right balance between human- and data-driven insights, for example, deploying new technologies quickly, while also changing course if they aren’t working.

“It will also be crucial to keep speed and agility top priority in order to ensure they stay ahead in an ever-changing retail landscape,” says Viney.

By Marion Gerritsen