10 companies leading the digital transformation in retail (2023)

The rise of online shopping has pushed the retail sector into a state of crisis. More than 11,000 stores are expected to close in 2018, up from 9,000 in 2017, according to Cushman & WakefieldMessage.

"Today, retailers are being forced to innovate," said Brendan Witcher, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. “The challenge is where is the line between a good retailer and a good innovator? Too many companies take their eyes off the ball and the basics of what they need to focus on innovation.”

Virtually every retail company now has a digital strategy, Witcher said. The remaining challenges for transformation lie in softer elements: culture, organization and skills shortages, he added. “Technology implementation is easy compared to the change management challenges of moving from a traditional retailer to a digitally-led retailer,” said Witcher.

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There's no shortage of companies investing in technology to attract and retain customers, said Brian Solis, senior analyst at Altimeter and author of the report.Key trends in retail innovation. For many, however, "innovation" really means "iteration," Solis said, meaning that instead of doing new things that create new value, they're doing the same things but more efficiently.

"Investments in mobile, cloud or things like augmented reality or new payment systems are improving the customer experience, but I think retail is really struggling right now to understand tomorrow's customer," Solis said. "I've seen some of the greatest innovation on that front when companies are really trying to understand, 'What don't we know?'"

Retail also tends to lag other industries when it comes to digital initiatives because projects need to be operational before most companies come on board, said Ananda Chakravarty, senior analyst at Forrester.

"Because retail is so dependent on margins, there are few dollars available for things like R&D and general innovation," Chakravarty said. “You know you're competing with companies like Amazon, whose multi-billion dollar budgets are dedicated solely to innovation and research and development. It's not being ignored - it's more like, 'How much can we get out of this without sacrificing our day-to-day work? '"

Despite the challenges, several retailers have embraced the changing landscape and are pushing ahead with digital projects that use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to radically transform their stores and create new ones win customers. Here are 10 companies leading digital transformation in retail.

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1. Sephora

beauty dealerSephoraleveraged digital ventures to not only survive but thrive in today's retail economy and lead as theNO. 1beauty retailers in the world. The company has used technology to offer customers a range of exclusive deals on its mobile app as well as in-store, I reported for ZDNet's sister site.TechRepublic.

While other cosmetics companies rely heavily on department store sales, Sephora offers customers a range of technology options that allow them to personalize their shopping experience by virtually trying on makeup using AR, matching their skin tone with an AI-assisted foundation, and trying one on Scent via the touchscreen and scented air.

"Sephora is diversifying its approach to digital transformation, focusing on areas where other companies are struggling," Solis said at the time. "Specifically, the company studied digital consumers to understand their needs, beauty and social aspirations, their feelings and purchasing and more, and then internally adapted models, processes and resources to compete with purpose."

2. Lowes

HeimwerkerketteLowesstarted rolling out Virtual 3D in its stores with AR and Virtual Reality (VR) testing.holospacein 2014, where customers can design a room on the computer and then visit it in VR. The company then launched theLowes Visionapps andLook in your spaceFeature that uses AR to help customers imagine what the store's products would look like in their own home. OShop-NavigationThe app helps customers navigate to the products they need in store.

All of these apps aim to solve a common customer problem: how will you know if something looks good in your space?

"It makes a lot of sense for a do-it-yourself business and other types of spaces as well," Chakravarty said. "There are some niche markets for that."

3. Domestic Deposit

"Heimdepotis doing a fantastic job with its omnichannel capabilities," Witcher said of successfully driving its online sales growth through its brick-and-mortar stores.

Home Depot's approach allows customers to buy products online and choose to have them delivered to their home or to a local store for pickup. An online order and in-store delivery option can deliver the products to customers the next day within a two-hour delivery window. You can also buy products online and return them in store.

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Like Lowe's, Home Depot has introduced wayfinding to its app to help customers more easily navigate the store's aisles and find what they're looking for. The company reported revenue of $23.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 7.5% year over year.

4. Walmart

In someWalmartIn stores, bossa nova robots move around the store, scanning the shelves and notifying managers of stock levels in real time. Providing at-a-glance information about how products are performing in stores and across multiple locations can help the retailer create a predictive inventory model and keep prices competitive.ZDNet reports.

"These are powerful tools that they use for things like inventory management, and they can do that in an automated manner without involving the sales reps or in-store employees, giving them more time to actually interact with customers," Chakravarty said.

5. Lollipops and Lollipops

Confectionery and giftware retailerslollipops and popsIt may be small compared to others on this list, but it has a powerful digital project in the works, Chakravarty said. The company recently introducedmobica, a facial recognition loyalty program developed by Intel. Customers who sign up for the program can enter a store and a camera will recognize their face and send that information to an app on the store clerk's tablet. With this data, the member can access the person's taste profile, allergies and other information and offer personalized product recommendations through AI-assisted analysis.

6. Hook

grocery chainHookusedChecking in storeto customize purchases for customers, Chakravarty said. The company now uses predictive behavior modeling to customize promotions and pricing tailored to its Plus Card members, which has resulted in a growing digital customer base. As of the first quarter of 2017, growth in mobile visits has outpaced overall digital growth, the company said. Kroger also recently debuted hisKlicklisteService that allows customers to order groceries online and pick them up in store.

7. Fables

fablesuses a digital tool called Omnicart to identify new customers and create a more personalized experience for them, Witcher said. The tool allows store associates to scan the products that a shopper tries on in a fitting room on an iPad. If the buyer is a Fabletics member and the retailer has saved their email address, the clothes will automatically be added to their online shopping cart.

After the shopper tries on the clothes, she gives feedback to the fitting room attendant on the iPad. If they "dislike" or complete an in-store purchase, the item will be removed from their online shopping cart. Otherwise it stays there in case they want to buy it later.

Customers who shop at Fabletics across multiple channels like these are 3.2X more profitable to the company than customers who shop through only one channel.accordinglythe president of the company.

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8. Macys

Em 2016,Macysbegan launching an RFID initiative to track all items in its stores and fulfillment centers. When the company expanded RFID into its fashion departments, its sales volume grew by more than 200 percentsome estimates-- not surprising as inventory accuracy can increase item availability, leading to higher sales.

"It reduces in-store shrinkage and waste and improves employees' ability to track specific products and inventory," Chakravarty said. "It's a powerful tool."

9. Best Buy

best buyhas worked with partner 3C Interactive to develop a growing communications protocol calledadvanced communication servicesThis can enhance simple text messages with product images, in-store pickup cards, and other purchase details. This creates a more seamless interaction between in-store and online communication.

"They're finding different ways to engage with the customer on mobile," Chakravarty said.

10. Neiman Marcus

department storeNeiman Markusestablished an innovation lab in Dallas, TX in 2012 to test new technologies. The shop has already startedmemory mirror- Huge video screens and cameras that allow shoppers to view clothing in 360 degrees and compare clothing options side-by-side - in some locations.

The retailer also launched theSnap-Find-Shopvisual search feature in its app that allows customers to take a picture of a shoe, bag or piece of clothing and use AI to find a similar style across the store's product range.

These and other projects aim to alleviate customer pain points and make the shopping experience easier and more fun. "It's almost like Innovation as a Service, where they take on challenges and also look for new opportunities where they can make a difference," Solis said.

also see


Which retailers are leading in digital transformation? ›

Top retailers in the U.S., including Walmart and Costco, offer engaging online experiences in addition to in-store shopping. Retailers like Amazon sell primarily via e-commerce. Digital technology can help brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers provide better customer service while improving sales and forecasting.

What companies are leaders in digital transformation? ›

Digital Transformation Provider Comparison Table
Capgemini· Deep technical expertise · Flexibility · Self-funded projects
Cognizant· Cloud computing · Broad offerings · Flexible fee and payment structure
Deloitte· Integration · DevOps and automation · Flexible fee and payment structures
7 more rows
Nov 11, 2021

What is the digital transformation of retail business? ›

What Is Retail Digital Transformation? Retail digital transformation is the infusion of technology in the retail industry to enhance operational efficiency, improve customer experience and drive growth.

Why Walmart is digitally transforming? ›

Walmart is exploring and utilizing a variety of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, augmented reality, big data, blockchain, cloud, cybersecurity, data centers, payments, robotics, digital media, drones, autonomous vehicles and social media to improve operational efficiencies and offer better ...

Who is the largest digital retailer? ›

Amazon.com is leading the global e-commerce market, with a revenue of US$131,019 million in 2021 worldwide, followed by jd.com with US$118,515 million.

What is an example of a company that went through digital transformation? ›

Nike transformed the company's mindset, supply chain, and brand to better connect with its customers during the pandemic. The brand focused more on data analytics, updated their e-commerce strategy, developed stronger digital marketing campaigns, and amped their direct-to-customer sales.

Who is the best at digital transformation? ›

The best digital transformation companies
  • Accenture.
  • ScienceSoft.
  • Cognizant.
  • Deloitte.
  • Tntra.
  • iTechArt Group.
  • Dell.
  • KPMG.

What are the top examples of digital transformation? ›

Digital Transformation examples include IT Modernization such as switching to a cloud environment, being remote-ready, reskilling employees, implementing automation to accelerate customer support and service, and using AI-driven insights to enhance sales efficiency.

What company is an example of a transformational leader? ›

Companies that have thrived under transformational leadership include many of the most famous names in our culture today, including Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Walmart, and Google. Some may even argue that—led by President Joseph Aoun—Northeastern University is operating under a transformational leadership model.

What is the future of digital transformation in retail? ›

Digital transformation initiatives have picked up in the retail sector in recent years as store chains compete for brand awareness and sales in a rapidly evolving market. By 2026, retailers' global investments in digital transformation tools are expected to reach $388 billion, growing by 18% a year.

What is a digital retail company? ›

A digital retailer is defined as a retail business that allows customers to engage digitally at different stages of their buying journeys.

What are the benefits of digital transformation in retail? ›

Digital transformation in the retail sector helps create a more personalized shopping experience for customers by leveraging Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. This allows retailers to customize their offerings based on customer preferences and behavior.

Who is Walmart digital leader? ›

Marc Lore, Who Engineered Walmart's Digital Transformation, To Step Down. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Why Coca Cola is digitally transforming? ›

Coca-Cola Digital Transformation Strategies Overview

Coca-Cola's digital transformation strategies are primarily focused on operational efficiency leveraging data and technology, enhancing customer experience through both online and offline channels, and strengthening its digital culture.

Why Nestle is digitally transforming? ›

They expect brands to connect with them directly and get new products to market quickly. Plus, they want full transparency about how their products were made. To meet these demands and drive growth, we are accelerating our data-driven digital transformation.

Who is the number 1 retailer in the world? ›

Walmart Inc

Who is the second largest online retailer in the US? ›

U.S.: Top 10 online stores

Amazon.com is leading the U.S. e-commerce market, with e-commerce net sales of US$125,844 million in 2021 generated in the U.S., followed by walmart.com with US$46,446 million. Third place is taken by apple.com with revenues of US$25,862 million.

Who is the number 2 online retailer? ›

As of June 2022, Amazon accounted for 37.8 percent of the U.S. e-commerce market, making it by far the leading online retailer the country. Second place was occupied by the e-commerce site of retail chain Walmart, with a 6.3 percent market share, followed in third place by Apple, with 3.9 percent.

Which companies failed in digital transformation? ›

4 Most Infamous Digital Transformation Failures
  • Hershey. Hershey is an American multinational brand that makes world-famous chocolate cookies, cakes, milkshakes, and beverages. ...
  • Hewlett Packard. HP is the world's 2nd largest PC vendor; think laptops, printers, notebooks, and desktop computers. ...
  • Miller Coors. ...
  • Revlon.
Jul 7, 2022

Which company failed at digital transformation? ›

Although Hershey's digital transformation failure was back in 1996, it's still probably the most well-known world-wide. When Hershey's went live with SAP, they were unable to process approximately US$100 million of orders!

What are the 4 technologies for digital transformation? ›

Here are a few of the many perspectives on digital transformation – and digital transformation strategy – that you can find online.
  • The 4 Key Areas in Digital Transformation, According to Microsoft. ...
  • Blockchain technology. ...
  • Artificial Intelligence. ...
  • Mobile Payments. ...
  • Cloud Computing. ...
  • Big Data Analytics. ...
  • Social Media. ...
  • Mobile Apps.
Aug 23, 2022

What are the top 5 digital transformation framework? ›

While the top five digital transformation frameworks from Open-ROADS, Deloitte-TMForum, BCG, TDCM, Capgemini-2018, DXC, and MIT stand out, you will not be able to apply these frameworks. There are no user guides in the public domain, so you will have to become a paying customer first.

What are the 5 A's to digital transformation? ›

Audience, Assets, Access, Attribution and Automatisation: make the 5 As your new mantra! By developing an approach around each pillar you can become a digital transformation champion, delivering enriched customer experiences and improved business performance.

What are the 5 elements of successful digital transformation? ›

5 Key Elements of a Successful Digital Transformation Framework
  • Define clear objectives. ...
  • Create an integrated strategy. ...
  • Inspire a change in culture through leadership. ...
  • Embrace adaptability and agility. ...
  • Invest in upskilling.
May 24, 2022

What is an example of a successful business transformation? ›

A typical example, challenges and rewards incentivised its employees to increase speed and agility during breakfast through their drive-thru. McDonalds offers a new shopping experience to it's customers adding value by offering personalised service.

What is an example of a digital business company? ›

One example of a digital business is Amazon.com. Amazon.com started as an online bookstore, but they have since expanded to become a powerful e-commerce platform. Amazon.com uses digital technology to connect buyers and sellers and to facilitate transactions. Another example of a digital business is Uber.

What is Nike's digital strategy? ›

Nike's strategy focuses on delivering a consistent, seamless, and premium experience, both digitally and physically around model brand and multi-brand. To enable this, Nike has tailored a suite of apps.

What are the 4 transformational leaders? ›

There are four factors to transformational leadership, (also known as the "four I's"): idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration. Each factor will be discussed to help managers use this approach in the workplace.

Who is the most famous transformational leader? ›

Steve Jobs is known for being one of the most iconic transformational leaders in the world. People who worked for Jobs said he was constantly challenging everyone to think beyond what they had accomplished, that he always pushed for and wanted more.

Who is a well known transformational leader? ›

Examples of Transformational Leadership

Oprah Winfrey: The media mogul is famous for her charismatic, visionary, and inspirational leadership style. Steve Jobs: Jobs was famous for his visionary leadership that transformed Apple into a leader in the technology industry.

Which industries are undergoing digital transformation? ›

  • Healthcare. The healthcare industry is an obvious candidate for digital transformation. ...
  • Manufacturing. Manufacturing is another industry that is under pressure to digitize in order to stay competitive. ...
  • Energy and Utilities. ...
  • Transportation and Logistics. ...
  • Small Business. ...
  • Banking. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Farming and Agriculture.
Sep 21, 2022

What are the three most popular electronics retailers performed? ›

Amazon.com is leading the Consumer Electronics e-commerce market in the U.S., with e-commerce net sales of US$42,598 million in 2021 generated in the U.S., followed by apple.com with US$25,862 million. Third place is taken by bestbuy.com with a revenue of US$13,719 million.


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