The demand for retailers to remain relevant to customers has intensified during the global pandemic, as have consumer requirements for sustainability. Sixty-seven percent of consumers agree that companies will build back better from the pandemic by investing in longer-term, sustainable and fair solutions.
An adaptive retailer can respond to constant disruptions, building the kind of sustainable resilience it needs to drive innovation and growth.
Together, these shifts have increased pressure on retailers to accelerate the development of the future retail experience. But most retailers’ businesses are still too hard wired to quickly flex and evolve. Retailers need to break free of these constraints—with an aggressive move to the cloud.
Every retailer operating in this pandemic would like to be more digital, with integrated channels, offering curbside pickup and profitable home delivery models, with repurposed stores that double as storehouses to complement their warehouses.
But that’s just on the surface. What this means to retailers is the ability to rapidly and affordably adapt to whatever the current situation requires. And that necessitates a business built with cloud at its core—it’s what Accenture calls Technology Transformation.
Transfomative technology for retail
With Technology Transformation, retailers use the cloud to integrate their entire business as a new retail platform that, first, enables them to rearchitect the end-to-end retail business to get closer to consumers and, second, substantially reduces their impact on the environment.
The key to Technology Transformation is data. Setting data free from legacy systems, developing deep insights from it, and leveraging it to drive better business decisions is the name of the game. Employing the right operating models and advanced machine learning to develop impactful scenarios that can be planned, tested, and simulated—and then using insights from those scenarios to discern the right trade-offs—that’s the key to adaptability. And cloud computing is built for this.
Fueling the shift to sustainable retail
Importantly, cloud-based Technology Transformation also can bring significant sustainability benefits to retailers. A sustainable cloud migration can have multiple direct environmental effects that result from using hardware optimally.
But cloud journeys also enable retailers to take the next leap toward responsibility through circular business models, traceability and optimized supply chains, and a sustainable customer experience.
Fashion retailer H&M is doubling down on sustainability by working with Accenture to build and run its ecommerce solution on wind power via the cloud.
Navigating the barriers to retail innovation
The promise of cloud-based, sustainable transformative technology for retailers is huge—so why aren’t more retailers embracing them?
The biggest issue is the scale and debt of old technology. But this doesn’t have to be an obstacle—there are proven approaches, such as Accenture’s Technology Debt Model, that can help retailers address modernization in a way that funds the move to the cloud.
Harnessing the cloud continuum for technology-powered innovation creates new opportunities. Realigning mindsets to fully leverage the cloud is required. This is a step-change in how a retailer thinks about its business and how it adopts, integrates and uses new technologies to unlock trapped value.
Here are five key levers that influence success.
Retailers need to re-envision how to create value, and adopt business models and customer offerings that drive growth via integrated technology.
Retailers need to install an agile organization to put technology at the heart.
Retailers need to adopt new practices for agility and experimentation.
Retailers need to create a flexible cloud technology core for sustainable change.
Retailers need to empower talent to innovate with technology.
Seizing the opportunity to become a Cloud First retail enterprise
Before the pandemic, many retailers had already begun to move parts of their business to the cloud. And in many cases, the pandemic has accelerated those plans.
While the current environment is very challenging for retailers, it will eventually get better. And when it does, retailers that haven’t taken advantage of this time to transform their business will be disadvantaged against those that have.
And that doesn’t mean simply moving more existing systems and applications to the cloud.
Retailers that have used the cloud to rapidly re-envision their business on a cloud-enabled, sustainable technology platform will become a true digital retailer able to keep up with the pace of change and to cost-effectively and continually evolve and innovate to deliver the experiences customers want.