Retail realities of doing business today

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We live in the age of the customer, and digital channels have an increasingly important role to play in defining brand image, positioning and customer experience

We collaborated with SAP to commission a survey to understand the technology challenges retailers face in order to keep up with customer demand.  We surveyed over 300 retailers and 2,000 consumers in six European countries (the UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy). Our survey has confirmed the following realities of doing business in the digital age:

The customer is calling the shots

Customers are firmly in the driving seat and will continue to embrace omni-channel retailing (that is, researching and buying across multiple channels, including mobile platforms). The tipping point between in-store and online is rapidly being reached. The graph shows the percentages of consumers shopping across store and online channels. The survey results highlight that for many (if not all) retail categories, in the next five years the lines will switch and we’ll see the online channel dominate stores.

Buying online is not just about price

Providing an exceptional customer experience across channels is paramount for brands to drive brand loyalty and ensure that consumers are sharing positive stories. Based on the results of the survey, we can conclude that convenience and experience will soon usurp price as the consumer’s primary driver for shopping online – as it has already in the UK, France and the Netherlands

Customers want it all and they want it now

Only 50% of respondents felt they get a consistent and superior multi-channel experience.  Retailers have much to do in order to improve their business capabilities and address customer expectations


Our findings have highlighted seven key facts that amount to a ‘call to action’: Evolve or be left behind

1. Retailers aren’t as yet offering a seamless experience to customers across channels

2. Retailers aren’t deciphering data fast enough into actionable insights

3. Connecting the dots across the various customer touchpoints is now a core skill

4. Retail loyalty programmes are not dead – but require a serious re-think

5. Be VERY aware of the social media-savvy consumer

6. CEOs are concerned that they aren’t using technology to the best effect

7. While technology is the enabler, few have managed to define and execute an effective roadmap fit for the digital age

Contact us

Partha Chakraborty

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7212 8699

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