Does store operations have a seat at the digital transformation table?
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.
At a recent dinner where a group of executives talked about the challenges facing stores, the conversation started much the same as it does everywhere in retail these days.
How many people at the table are part of an internal effort addressing digital transformation in some way? Yep, check, almost the whole table.
Next question: how many people at the table have extended that strategy or discussion to stores? Nope. Not yet. For a lot of retailers, it is such an open question they will readily admit they don’t know where to start.
Even worse: how many at the table were from store operations? Three. And they were all from the same company. One attendee said, “We seem to have this attitude internally about doing things to stores, rather than with them.”
So, obviously, there are a lot of problems with this state of affairs. But it is certainly not surprising. Stores do not move at the same speed as the rest of the business. The reality is that user experience design and the process of rolling out software (and hardware) to stores is just not that smooth, and it may never be.
And that means stores will always be slower than the rest of the enterprise and are just getting passed by. Digital transformation is leaving stores in the dust. And stores are responding by trying to skip the hard work of defining what they want the customer experience to be and moving straight on to implementing technology – apparently for technology’s sake, rather than in support of a strategic customer experience.
When retailers get to this point, here’s what happens next: stores lose their strategic imperative.
When I can get cases of Diet Coke delivered to my front porch for practically free, stores have to be about more than “selling stuff.” But if you take away an objective of “selling stuff,” what’s the purpose of stores? Too many retailers have no good answer to that question. And when you don’t have a good answer, everything else you do – all the tactics, the technology – amounts to scattershot efforts at an ill-defined problem.
Worse yet, if digital transformation continues to leave stores in the dust, are they ever going to see the starting line?
- Does Store Operations Have A Seat At The Digital Transformation Table? – RSR Research
- Omnichannel Store Health Assessment: Only The Strong Survive – RSR Research
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why is the digital transformation still largely missing from the physical store experience? Are stores even able to move fast enough to keep up with the speed of today’s retail customer?