Retail execs urged to ‘change mindset’

New research has revealed that three-quarters of retailers feel digital transformation requires a change in leadership mindset.

The findings from PwC were published at the Tech. conference in London yesterday, with the firm’s digital consulting leader Colin Light telling delegates that digital transformation is radically changing the nature of senior management.

PwC and Retail Week interviewed 15 chief executives and directors leading on digital transformation within retail businesses with a turnover of more than £50 million, and conducted a survey with a further 30 retail leaders.

The research found that only a third at management level agree that supplier-retailer relationships are at the true partnership stage, with 56 per cent of retail leaders overall believing their company’s third-party supplier relationships now resemble true partnerships to support digital transformation.

The report also showed that 75 per cent of retailers are planning no more than three years ahead for their digital transformation initiatives. A further 87 per cent of retailers agreed that the pace of change and the pressure their business is under to digitally transform has increased over the past three years.

The report also argued that the line between retailers and technology companies has blurred thanks to the digital revolution.

Will Shuckburgh, executive vice president of global membership at Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, stated in a speech at the event that these days retailers have to be tech businesses.

“The retail landscape has been fundamentally changed by Amazon, by the sheer scale of what they do,” he told the audience. “Mobile in particular has made it seamless to move between services.

“Ecosystems are the future of what businesses will be, and everyone else will be destroyed by those kinds of businesses.”

In terms of diversification into logistics, Shuckburgh added: “Any retailer that doesn’t compete in the logistics business will not be around in a few year’s time.”

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