Editor’s comment

In this, our latest report, our focus is on digital innovation – something that most retailers will claim to do to some degree or another and one of the latest buzzwords in retail.

For pureplay retailers digital innovation is a must do but traditional store retailers, whilst having got to grips with ecommerce, are still trying to blend the world of online and stores through digital innovation and improve their business as result. In a survey for this report 92% of retail businesses said that digital innovation was either vital or very important for their business with nearly three quarters chasing additional revenue from it.

We also surveyed consumers – finding that more than half would be put off shopping with a retailer that was slow to innovate.

But it’s not easy. True digital innovation requires a concerted effort across the business to pay more than just lip service to the concept but instead to truly deliver something new and exciting that has customers constantly coming back for more.

This is a report not necessarily to investigate all the latest and greatest innovations that are out there – since that is something that changes by the minute – but more to examine retailers’ attitudes to innovation and their ability as businesses large and small, old or new, to rise to the digital innovation challenge and how they are reshaping their businesses to do so.

Innovation is about rethinking and creating value and delivering new services, products and technologies that will make customers’ lives easier than ever and of course improve business as a result. That means trying to predict what customers want.

Retailers already have at their hand a huge amount of data that offers them the potential to know and understand their customers better than ever and allow them to innovate, change and grow.

But managing that data — let alone analysing it – has always been a challenge and with that data pool increasing by the minute efficient handling of data has never been more important. It is apt then that we begin with an expert view from Delphix, the sponsor of this report, looking at how retailers can make the most of their data to innovate within their businesses rather than simply choke it (page 4).

Innovation is at the heart of any retail business today – since it’s what the shareholders demand and what customers expect. Customers have undoubtedly been spoilt by some of the biggest innovators in the industry and expect other retailers to keep up. Digital innovation is offering even greater potential for change as physical and online worlds continue to meld together and the learnings of the online world allow retail to develop quicker than ever. But what does innovation actually mean? Why is it important to retailers and do customers even care? (page 5 –6, defining innovation).

We surveyed retailers to find out more about how they are innovating, where their priorities lie and the challenges they face in delivering innovation (page 7 – 9 state of innovation).

Next we look at how retailers are innovating (page 10 – 11 retailers’ innovation strategies) and then at how continous improvement and an agile environment is enabling that for some retailers, and why those with legacy systems are doing their best to get to the same point as their more agile peers (page 14 moving from legacy to agile).

The last year or so has seen a number of retailers launch, or partner in, innovation labs to deliver and encourage faster change and more blue sky thinking than has ever been evident in the world of retail before and so our next feature examines their role (page 15, innovation hubs).

Although our retailer survey gave us valuable data it’s the in-depth interviews with retailers that give us a fuller picture of what leading retailers in their field are doing. You can read their inspiring stories in our eight-page spotlight on innovation section (pages 16 – 23, innovation case studies).

And finally we look at what consumers thought of innovation and how important it was for them to assess whether retailers really are doing enough (page 24 – 26, consumer survey).