The retail industry has been going through a transformation since its beginning. Let’s go back in time. Not so far, the 19th century will be enough. Back then, people had to travel far to find a market and buy goods from small stores.
Later, in the mid-20th century, the concept of supermarkets came along. And now, in the 21st century, you can buy almost anything from anywhere with just a fingertip, thanks to eCommerce.
The transformation we are going through now in the retail industry is mostly about digitalization. We can simply call it “retail digital transformation”.
Then, what does digital transformation mean in the retail industry? Is it important for you? If so, then how could you adopt it in your business?
No worries. You will find all the answers very soon here in this article. We will also let you know some of the best practices you need to follow and answer some frequently asked questions. So, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- What is Digital Transformation in the Retail Industry
- Importance of Digital Transformation in the Retail Industry
- How to Adopt Digital Transformation for Your Retail Business
- Retail Digital Transformation Trends and Best Practices to Follow in 2022
- Challenges of Digital Transformation in the Retail Sector
- FAQ on Retail Digital Transformation
What is Digital Transformation in the Retail Industry
Digital transformation refers to digitalization or adaptation of digital technologies. In the retail industry, digital transformation means the integration of modern technologies and change of business model accordingly to ensure the growth and sustainability of your business.
For retailers, digital transformation simply means giving your analog or brick and mortar retail business a digital presence through an eCommerce site, mobile app, social media, and so on.
According to Salesforce: “Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new – or modify existing – business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.”
Example of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is all about the adaptation of modern technologies. So, its examples will be the names of the technologies that can make your retail business digital.
- Mobile Applications
- Social Shopping
- AI, AR, and VR
You will find a detailed discussion about all of these technologies in the next parts of this article. So, let’s move on.
First, we will start with why digital transformation is important for you.
Importance of Digital Transformation in the Retail Industry
The main importance of digital transformation is that – it is customer demand and you have to embrace it if you want to make your business sustainable and thriving.
Customers want convenience, ease, and comfort. Digital transformation can give all of these. Some customers even like to use new techs. So, customers won’t follow in your footsteps. You will have to follow them instead.
Now, we are going to discuss the key importance of digital transformation in the retail industry in the following points:
- More and More Businesses Going Digital: The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of retail business. At a Foundry survey in 2021, about 91% of business organizations opined that they have already adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first business strategy.
- Enhanced User Experience: Your sales largely depend on how better experience you can provide to your customers. A recent PwC study found more than 32% of customers stop interacting with a brand they loved after one bad experience!
- Huge Business Opportunity: Customers nowadays prefer shopping on digital platforms more than in physical stores. Because over 27% of the world’s population are now digital buyers which is expected to hit 95% in 2040. Just think, how big opportunities are awaiting.
- Hassle-free Business Management: The integration of modern technologies into your business not only gives convenience to the customers but also helps you manage your business effortlessly. New techs like automation and AI can even reduce the manpower you need for management.
- Embrace the Future: Digital marketplace is the future no matter whether you have a wholesale or retail business. Perhaps, you have understood it from the previous statistics. So, you should embrace the future from now on before it’s too late.
Well, digital transformation is very important for any kind of business. But how to make it work for your business? Now, it is time to pave the way.
How to Adopt Digital Transformation for Your Retail Business
We are now living in the era of the digital revolution. So, bringing your retail business to the digital world is the first and foremost thing you should do if you want to survive in the long run.
You can start adopting digital transformation to your retail business by following these tips:
- Make a Website to Ensure Your Digital Presence
- Launch an Online Store or Enroll in a Marketplace
- Integrate Omnichannel Strategy into Your Business
- Adopt Advanced Technologies Like AI, AR, and VR
- Apply eCommerce Automation Technology
In the next part, we will discuss each of the tips in detail with the necessary data and evidence. So, stay with us till the end.
1. Make a Website to Ensure Your Digital Presence
What comes to your mind first when you think about digital transformation? Having a website, isn’t it? You are absolutely right. The era of digital revolution itself began after the invention of the world wide web (the internet we know today) in 1989.
Around 75% of users in a recent survey admitted that they make judgments about a company’s credibility based on its websiteWeb Credibility Research, Stanford
Besides, another recent study from Top Design Firms found that nearly 71% of small businesses in the US have a website. Therefore, you should start your journey of retail digital transformation by building a fast and attractive website.
2. Launch an Online Store or Enroll in a Marketplace
You have a website. Now, you need to sell your products online. You can do it by integrating an online store with your website, or building a separate online store outside your website. You can even enroll in a suitable online marketplace if you prefer.
Online selling is very crucial because nearly 20% (almost 5 trillion) of global retail sales have done online in 2021, which is expected to reach 25% in 2025.Statista
You will find many solutions nowadays to open an online marketplace. But all of them are not user-friendly and cost-efficient. Even, they might not serve your purpose very well. Therefore, we highly recommend you read this article before making up your mind.
3. Integrate Omnichannel Strategy into Your Business
Omnichannel commerce is a multichannel approach that focuses on seamless customer experience. It allows customers to buy products and services whether they are shopping online from a mobile device, on a social channel, or in a brick-and-mortar store.
The application of omnichannel strategies helps businesses retain on average 89% of their customers.Softtek
Omnichannel is a vivid approach to digital transformation in the retail industry. Integration of such a strategy is rising across the eCommerce industry because of its excellent outcomes. In addition, it gives the customers ease and convenience which they prefer the most.
4. Adopt Advanced Technologies Like AI, AR, and VR
Artificial intelligence (AI), which was a sci-fi term a few years ago, is now everywhere – from your watch to robot cleaner. Since the retail industry is huge, AI is being adopted here very fast. It enhances the user experience a lot and helps manage your business easily.
The global market for the use of AI in retail reached $5 billion in 2021, which is expected to grow exponentially in the next several years, crossing $23 billion by 2027.Statista
Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are the other advanced technologies that play a significant role in the digital transformation in the retail industry. AR and VR give customers convenience and increase sales.
With the help of AR and VR, customers can try products before buying – from a pair of shoes to bedroom furniture. These techs give customers the feeling that they are shopping at a physical store.
5. Apply eCommerce Automation Technology
Automation means fulfilling tasks automatically rather than doing them manually. eCommerce automation is the use of software that help your online store convert most or all of the manual, repetitive tasks into self-fulfilling automated tasks.
Application of automation technology to your retail business can save your money and time significantly, and help manage your business hassle-free. That’s why more and more businesses are using this technology lately.
The global retail automation market size was valued at $11.26 billion in 2020, which is projected to reach $33.02 billion by 2030.Next Move Strategy Consulting
Since you have brought your retail business to the digital world through building a website, online store, and so on, now it is time to make the tasks automated. We recommend you use automation software for the tasks like – ERP, inventory management, and product categorization.
Retail Digital Transformation Trends and Best Practices to Follow in 2022
You have learned different aspects of digital transformation in the retail industry so far, including how you can adopt it to your business. Learning its current trends and best practices can help you complete the adaptation successfully.
The retail digital transformation trends and best practices you should follow right now:
- Focus on Mobile Devices
- Build a Niche-Specific eCommerce
- Emphasize Social Media Shopping
- Prioritize Security
- Ensure Versatility in Payments
Next, we are going to discuss each of the points in detail with the necessary data and evidence. Let us begin.
1. Focus on Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are currently dominating the business sector, particularly which are connected to the digital world. The reason is simple – more than 92% of internet users access the internet via mobile devices.
Nearly 73% of the total eCommerce sales were done via mobile devices across the globe in 2021Statista
The dominance of mobile commerce will go further in the future. So, you should give priority to mobile phones while transforming your retail business to digital. That’s why you should build an attractive and responsive mobile site and downloadable app.
2. Build a Niche-Specific eCommerce
Different types of retail businesses are being launched every day across the globe both online and offline. But only a few of them survive in the long run, and the survival rate of eCommerce is significantly lower.
About 90% of eCommerce businesses fail after 120 days of their launch!MarketingSignals
The main reason behind this failure is a lack of innovation. These marketplaces failed to draw customers’ attention as they were not designed for a specific target group. So, if you want to become successful, you should build a niche-specific marketplace.
3. Emphasize Social Media Shopping
The market size of social media commerce is huge and it is growing fast. To grab this market, social media marketers nowadays sell their products more organized manner like that of online marketplaces.
The global social commerce market was $501 billion in 2021, which is expected to cross $792 billion in 2025!Research and Markets
Social media shopping is getting matured day by day while expanding its size. Therefore, you should give a particular emphasis on this part while you adopt digital transformation for your retail business.
4. Prioritize Security
The more you go digital the more security threat you have to face – it is the hard reality of the tech world. But no worries. Several effective solutions are currently available to protect the security of your business and customers.
You can take the following measures to deal with the security issues:
- Use SSL Certificates and HTTPS
- Buy Cybersecurity Software
- Integrate Data Protection Tools
- Deploy Multi-Layer Security Measures
- Stay Updated about the Security Threats
Security threat is there, but you also have solutions in your hands. So, you should not hesitate to embrace digitalization fearing security issues. Instead, you should give priority to it and take necessary measures accordingly.
5. Ensure Versatility in Payments
We are experiencing versatility in payments in 2022 – from card to cryptocurrency payment. The era of offering customers one or two payment options seems gone now.
Top online retail businesses are trying to offer their customers as many payment options as possible so that they can make purchases easily and quickly.
The must-have payment methods are: card, online payment (like PayPal), digital wallet (like Google Pay), bank transfer, and cash on delivery. You should also consider incorporating cryptocurrencies as a payment method as it’s one of the new online marketplace trends.
Challenges of Digital Transformation in the Retail Sector
In 2022, companies are going to spend around $1.8 trillion just on digital transformation. Your investment will be a part of it as well. So, you should know the challenges ahead before embarking on the journey.
The challenges of digital transformation in the retail industry:
- Fast-Moving: Tech world is moving so fast, bringing new changes every day. It means digital transformation is not one-time stuff, it’s a continuous process.
- Lack of Experience: Although the era of the digital revolution began in the 90s, the industry is yet to get matured. So, you won’t get experienced people very often in this sector.
- Resource Limitations: Digital transformation is profitable and futuristic, but it requires a big investment. We need more technological advancement to lower the transformation costs.
- Security Threats: Although we have several tools, security threats still persist in the digital world. To overcome this challenge efficiently, we need more powerful and robust security solutions.
This marks the end of our discussion on retail digital transformation. Now, we will answer some frequently asked questions and then draw a conclusion. Let us proceed.
FAQ on Retail Digital Transformation
What are the main areas of digital transformation?
The main areas of digital transformation are technology, user experience, profit, sustainability, security, and ease.
How digitalization has changed the retail sector?
Digitalization helped retailers enhance user experience, increase sales, and reduce costs and hassle in business management.
How much do companies spend on digital transformation?
The global expenditure on digital transformation is expected to reach $1.8 trillion in 2022, which will cross 2.8 trillion in 2025, according to Statista.
Get Started with Digital Transformation for Your Retail Business
We tried to cover all the necessary topics you need to know about retail digital transformation here in this article. Our efforts will be fruitful if you apply the learnings from here in real life.
Now, the question is – are you ready to adopt digital transformation for your business right now? We hope you are. If you are not, you shall start preparing yourself from today through research and planning.
The sooner the better.
Please feel free to let us know in the comment section if you have any queries regarding this article.
Nayeem is a Content Writer at weDevs. He has 4+ years of experience in the internet and media industry, specializes in writing, editing, communications, WordPress, SEO, eCommerce, digital marketing, and graphic design.