By Erin Harris, editor-in-chief
Retailers came to the realization long ago that accommodating the mobile-savvy consumer isn’t innovative retailing, it’s business as usual. Cut to a few years later, and the retail industry is in the throes of a full-fledged digital transformation. Here we are with another behemoth term, and depending on whom you ask, the definition of digital transformation differs slightly, but most will agree that the digital transformation occurring in retail means embracing technologies such as cloud, mobile, predictive analytics, as well as social networks to improve the business. Retail’s digital transformation is real, but it can be perceived as overwhelming, especially to SMRs who seem to innately and consistently fight a whole host of business barriers. But if retailers, specifically SMRs, take a step back and dissect “digital transformation,” they’ll find that it doesn’t need to keep them up at night. Why? Because they’re already doing it.
It’s true that SMRs face many barriers on any given day let alone on a quest to digitize their brand — from strained budgets to cultural barriers (i.e. internal politics, risk aversion, lack of familiarity with digital, resistance to new approaches) to confusion about the Internet of Things. Consider the term itself, digital transformation — how’s that for daunting? But, digital transformation is a big term for the things you’re probably already doing — making incremental step changes to enable omni-channel retailing. For example, we’ve been educating our readers on the critical importance of interdepartmental collaboration for years. As it applies to digital transformation, our message is no different —all departments play a significant role; it’s not just for IT to handle. True digital transformation takes the brainpower, support, and involvement of practically every department. C-level leaders and executives must understand and believe in the importance of digitization if the rest of the company is to follow suit. And, technology for technology’s sake just doesn’t work. Sure, retailers should have by now advanced beyond pencils, paper, or spreadsheets for labor scheduling, for example, but considering your customers’ needs and how they shop your brand should dictate the technologies you’ll implement.
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