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The high pace of transformation in retail is continuing. Last year showed that omnichannel providers have grown faster than purely online players.

Following this development, many retailers who had previously positioned themselves purely online have to think about building up their own branch network. At the same time, bricks-and-mortar retailers will continue to invest heavily in further developing their online or omnichannel presence.

A customer-centred approach requires extensive investments in CRM and loyalty programmes. Brand building is an additional big challenge for many retailers.

Promoting premium private label (food & non-food) is one way to support this. Strategic brand management, innovation and product development tended to be an area of expertise found in the brand products industry in the past. Retailers are now also competing for these top marketers.

While the importance of mobile commerce is continuously growing, social commerce is also gaining importance again. Only the shopping experience and extensive ranges of services will bring customers back to city centres long-term.

In addition to price transparency, merchandise availability and home delivery offers are also playing a more important role. Successfully combining retail and hospitality is a key pre-condition for the long-term success of city-centre retail.

The digital transformation of classic retailers and the high number of “pure play” retail providers is leading to a long-term shortage of digital experts and managers experienced in transformation. Many retailers are also realigning their sourcing activities in order to position themselves more sustainably and to become more independent of traditional sourcing markets in Asia. Many of these initiatives need different skills, which often cannot be identified in-house.

After decades of expansion-driven growth, retail has been going through huge disruption for several years. Purely digital business models and multi-faceted delivery-service models are currently gaining ground.

However, many of these concepts still have to prove their feasibility. There is fierce competition, including for the best talent.