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EIU Report Suggests Some Retailers Overconfident

A global report launched by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) suggests that some retailers are overconfident, with the survey of retail executives finding that most are still relying on traditional principles in the face of new trends.

Sponsored by Demandware, the “Finding retail growth – A view from the top” findings are based on a survey of 300 retail executives from North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific, ranging from segments comprising consumer electronics, fashion, footwear, health and beauty, outdoor and sporting, and specialty.

The survey of executives, including 75 per cent C-suite respondents, shows that amid a broad range of trends, from globalisation to omnichannel, most still back product excellence and seamless service as growth drivers.

Most retailers stated that they are confident in their ability to compete in the face of these trends, however 42 per cent stated that they are at best somewhat ready to compete for more tech-savvy employees.

The EIU notes that “given the importance of tech-driven trends this relative lack of readiness raises questions about how confident retailers really should be”.

High-performing retailers more often than lower performers are planning tech-focused investments, pursuing three key growth initiatives: expanding into new geographies, making strategic partnerships and growing the number of stores or formats.

The report outlines five principles for driving retail growth today:

  • Don’t lose sight of the basics

  • Become fully customer-centric

  • Find opportunity in potential threats

  • Focus on priorities that align with opportunities

  • Operationalise technology

“The data suggest a few reasons to be concerned about some retailers’ ability to follow those principles,” Josselyn Simpson, managing editor at the EIU and the editor of the report, commented.

“First, there’s the relative lack of confidence in competing for tech-savvy employees. Then, when we look at the data about functional and organisational changes retailers expect to make to grow, we don’t see much agreement on priorities among all retailers – though there’s more among the high-performers. That’s one reason we focused on them throughout the report.”

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