The effective use of technology across retail and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies can be a major differentiator in these fiercely competitive sectors. Traditional business models have been abandoned as online buying models account for an increasing share of customer purchases. In the past, the key issues were all about sharing information between head offices, depots and stores. Now it’s about the customer offer and how to make this consistent and competitive across multiple channels. We work with retail and FMCG clients to help address a number of challenges that are faced by the industry.
Digital delivery. In retail more than almost any other sector, the move to a digital economy is driving a change in business. Retailers need to blend traditional IT operating models with agile approaches to support high-street and online services through a single approach designed to deliver great service to the business. Distributors need an efficient supply chain to maximise productivity.
Managing multi-channel. Delivering consistent product and customer experience is critical to brand building, whether customers are interacting with sales staff, websites or contact centres. Increasingly products are proactively marketed to customers based on historic buying patterns. Companies need to make sure their technology strategies support the brand and that consistency of experience is delivered every time.
Innovation. Retail and FMCG companies have always been early adopters of new technology from the early days of barcode scanning to the current world of robotics and self-service. Technology offers a continual opportunity to innovate both in terms of customer offer and back-office services. Companies need innovative in-house teams and partners to ensure they maintain a competitive edge.
Simplification of IT. Major retailers still maintain large IT estates leading to significant spend on long-term IT solutions. Increasingly cloud deployment is a critical enabler in building new applications quickly and cost effectively, and this should be built in to all retailers’ strategic decision making.
Cost management. The nature of traditional retail is that IT is often deployed across thousands of stores, depots and offices across an organisation. These estates undergo regular change, leading to significant costs and programme management overheads. Major programmes are best delivered by experienced teams who can cut through complexity and focus on the most important issues.
IT sourcing. Retailers pride themselves on being the best commercial buyers around, but IT sourcing is a specialist capability which can make a major difference to overall costs. In addition, high service uptime is critical in a 24-hour retail society so negotiation of appropriate service levels is a critical part of the mix.
Operating model. To deal with the issues caused by the levels of change in operations and IT, major retailers are adopting DevOps and Agile delivery to build flexible operating models with strong in-house development capability.
Data security. Retailers use customer data and analytics to make informed decisions about product strategy. This wealth of information is a major part of modern marketing, but governance of this data presents a major reputational risk. Companies need to embrace these challenges at a board level and increasingly the role of the chief information security officer (CISO) is focused less on technology and more on understanding the level of corporate risk as a whole.
Mason Advisory offers a full suite of services to support retail clients throughout the IT life cycle.