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When the grocer meets the digital revolution

08 September, 2014
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One of my good friends is the Director of a major Danish retail chain. I call him the grocer. He call me - of course, you can almost add – the computer man. In kind of an old-fashioned way. It has always been like that and it is quite natural that we use these titles with the jobs we have. Our profession marks our nicknames.

We have a tradition of cycling together in the weekends. And eventually it has become quite some kilometers on the road, discussing the opportunities and challenges in the industries we are involved in.

In the recent years, the retailer is discussing more IT and I discuss more business acumen. Our roles has changed over time, and virtually swapped places. That is the reality today. The retailer and his colleagues in the retail industry are more than ever deeply dependent on IT systems, both in handling the internal reporting systems and the overview of the business. But also in exploiting the potential of e-commerce and the transition from physical trade to online shopping. A trend that will continue.

It will be crucial for the retail industry and other industries that they continually invest in digitizing their business in order to be competitive. Otherwise, they will fall behind and end up being the industry’s scapegoat.

The retailer must not forget the business acumen, but today good acumen involves the ability to leverage IT and technology to sharpen competiveness. Fortunately, most Danish retailers are relatively good at implementing IT and optimize internal business systems as financial management, logistics, inventory management, etc. An important ability as a skilled businessperson.

However, retailers are missing something when it comes to e-commerce – all the processes that help to establish and optimize the trade with customers online. And e-commerce is far more than just a website where customers can buy products from the store. E-commerce is about how to catch the right customers on the Internet, how to get them into the e-shop, how to get them to purchase (more), how to ensure that customers get the help and advice they need. And how to ensure that customers come back – and bring their friends.

Despite the fact that Denmark is one of the countries in the world with the most active online buyers, many Danish companies are missing basic knowledge about e-commerce, meaning marketing and sales to online customers.

Today, the battle about the customers takes place at the customer’s location. On the other hand, the customer does many things themselves and the task is to make self-service easy. It is cheaper for the company and it is easier for the customer. Moreover, when successful, experienced as much better service. The advice is therefore: Become better at addressing the customer, where the customer is and become better at using IT and technology for exactly this. That is where many Danish companies lack and therefore risk being outpaced by foreign companies, who have understood how important e-commerce really is.

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