The new retail ecosystem: From disrupted to disruptor

Six strategies for retailers

Disruptors are reshaping consumer behaviour and training swaths of consumers to view disruption as the new default setting.

The results speak for themselves. Here in Canada, 83% of respondents to our Total Retail survey told us they’re Amazon shoppers, and many use the site as their go-to for price checks, product searches and online shopping. Our survey found that 55% of respondents use Amazon to compare prices, nearly 40% start their product search at Amazon and 24% now shop less often at retail stores. UberEATS chose Toronto as the first city in the world in which to launch its standalone UberEATS app back in late 2015, and now it has more than 100 restaurant partners in the greater Toronto area. And 377,500 active stores around the world currently use the Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify to sell their products.

In response, traditional Canadian retailers are stepping up their game. In our analysis, we look at six closely intertwined strategies retailers are using to stay competitive and better attract and keep today’s shoppers.

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Canada Post CEO, Deepak Chopra,
talks about retail
disruption and the
future of Canadian retail


Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Cost-prohibitive last-mile delivery issues continue to challenge retailers, many of whom are experimenting with a combination of options in response to customer preferences for speedy delivery. Trained to expect two-day or next-day delivery, customers have decided they like the option for home delivery or in-store pickup.

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Moving from points to experience

Brand loyalty, while hard-won, isn’t easy to shake. That's good news for retailers that have cultivated close ties with shoppers over many years with individualized coupons, marketing and pricing. Brand loyalty also reinforces the power of one-to-one connections with customers via personalization, which new online entrants cultivate rigorously through tactics such as using customer data to create targeted campaigns based on specific demographic parameters.

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Dynamic pricing allows for real-time adjustments

Disruptors are now competing on speed, variety and convenience. In fact, shoppers told us their motivation for shopping online isn’t always price—32% selected convenience as the main reason for shopping online. But across all channels, low price continues to dominate shopping decisions for almost two thirds of shoppers.


The right mix of offerings

Ultimately, retailers need to entice customers to interact with them—whether online or in-store—and keep them coming back. At physical stores, retailers can do so by providing a convenient, frictionless in-store experience, with the added advantage of knowledgeable sales staff who can explain product offerings—the number-one preference of in-store shoppers, ahead of ambience.


Effortless integration

For a technology platform to succeed, it has to be part of an overarching digital strategy that encompasses the entire organization—rather than an ad hoc point-in-time initiative. Respondents to our survey were more open to using mobile payment via smartphone this year than they were last year.



Accelerated pace of digital change

Continual experimentation and ongoing course correction are at the core of disruptors’ success—even when they’re ahead of the game. From self-checkout devices to circumvent long checkout lines to touchscreen fitting-room mirrors that offer immediate help from sales associates, retailers are experimenting with many options to make the shopping experience simple, convenient, personal and engaging.

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Hear Kate Furber, PwC's Western Canada Retail and Consumer Leader, talk about Retail Disruption on Business in Vancouver, Roundhouse Radio.

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