CIOs under Pressure as Retail Industry Transforms

Sales at Brick & Mortars fell 10% during the Thanksgiving holiday while online ordering increased its share of the retail spend pocket. Is it the end for Brick & Mortars?

Certainly not, instead these physical locations are evolving to meet these changes in the retail industry and leading the way for many businesses are the CIOs. Even though the CIOs are leading the way, many find themselves wearing many hats as these changes typically involve group decision involving strategy, marketing, finance and much more in order to make the customer experience as seamless as possible.

Of course, it’s the customer experience that is most important. Customers no longer think about what channel in which to purchase an item. For the customer, they want the item to be available and delivered on their terms. However, what seems to be a simple task is not in today’s environment, particularly as the competition is fierce and the belief of customer loyalty has long gone by the wayside.

The pressure is immense in the retail industry to be competitive but also at the same time, retailers must manage costs as well. As a result, the role of the CIO has been further elevated due to the need of collaboration with business departments. In an interview with I – Global Intelligence, David Concordel, VP and head of Fujitsu’s Retail Solutions business, there are three areas of focus for retail IT conversations:

  • Discussion on traditional functions and features of retail
  • Strategize on the direction and changing the IT architecture to support future growth
  • Exploration of how omni-channel relates to a retailer’s evolving processes

Mr. Concordel points out that these discussions are rarely a technology discussion. It’s more about the combined vision, solutions and architecture, with technology used to enable these goals.

The importance of combining the physical presence with the online presence is well understood however, it’s the connection of all the channels that requires the particular skills of the CIO because each channel requires its own set of processes and technologies – mobile, store-front, catalog, laptop etc. Whatever the channel may be, digital transactions are expected to influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores by the end of 2015 according to Delloite analysis.

The pressure is on in the retail industry. For retailer to succeed, it will need a forward thinking CIO to lead the way in this technological transformation.

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