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Rajashree R

Former Chief Marketing Officer, TCS


Retail CEOs now have the memo. Yes, Amazon was the No. 1 online retailer in the United States in 2017, with $94.7 billion in online sales, almost 20% more than in 2016. Yes, Amazon acquired the Whole Foods high-end healthy foods supermarket chain, thus expanding its reach into brick-and- mortar retail. For retailers, confronting competition from digital-first enterprises is like the proverbial drinking from the fire hose: more than they can handle. Retail CEOs also know these challenges require digital transformations that make their companies faster at innovating, introducing new processes, products, services, and marketing campaigns. And they also realize it’s about optimizing their store and online operations, and being more adept at experimenting with new business models.

Retail leaders also understand that their companies’ technology problems have become customer pain points. Consumers can see if a store’s online prices differ from those in-store. If a mobile payment option isn’t available or isn’t working, customers may go elsewhere. If a personalization algorithm offers mismatched products or services, customers will be disappointed. In this environment, it is critical to address problems as they occur. And that requires them to be agile and adaptive.

However, introducing agile approaches into their business—a proven means for speeding efforts to innovate and compete—is difficult. But it is no longer an option. Realizing this, several retailers worldwide are on an end-to-end value chain transformation to become agile, digital enterprises.