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Industry NewsCanadian retailers closing gap in seamless commerce: KPMG report

Canadian retailers closing gap in seamless commerce: KPMG report

Canadian retailers are embracing digital solutions and technologies to enhance the consumer shopping experience and remain competitive.

According to a recent report by KPMG International, Canada ranked fourth among eight major countries in simplifying retailing.

“Canadian retailers are making significant strides to build bridges across multiple channels – online and bricks and mortar – to become more efficient and improve the consumer shopping experience,” said Kostya Polyakov, partner and national leader for consumer and retail at KPMG in Canada. “Amid tight profit margins, higher costs and sharply lower discretionary spending, retailers recognize they must embrace digital solutions to remain competitive and stay in business.”

Over the past three years, Canadian retailers adopted omnichannel solutions, driven by increased consumer expectations influenced by U.S. retail giants, the KPMG report reads. Despite the pandemic accelerating online shopping, a significant portion of Canadians still prefer shopping in-store experiences.

“Retailers must shift their focus from channel to customer,” said Polyakov. “Consumers expect retailers to meet them where they are – online, whether it’s mobile or laptop, in-store, or on social media – and to deliver the same experience regardless. The only way retailers can meet their expectations is by breaking down data silos and developing a seamless, connected experience.”

E-commerce capabilities like click-and-collect and return in-store are becoming essential services. Consumers are also counting on retailers to replicate in-store experiences creatively online, using technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

While live social commerce has gained traction in other regions, Canada has yet to fully embrace this concept. However, Polyakov says a shift in consumer behaviour is growing as retailers experiment with new offerings to attract younger audiences. Currently, only four per cent of Canadians intend to increase their frequency of shopping on social platforms over the next three to five years, the report reads.

Additionally, the report calls for Canadian retailers to focus on aligning the workforce with customer-centric KPIs and leveraging data analytics for strategic decision-making. It also calls for adopting digital technologies like AI, and enhancing product and service innovation based on customer data.

A case study on Walmart highlighed the importance of investing in technology to drive innovation across the supply chain. The retail chain is leaning into innovation across its supply chain, with increased automation, data insights, and enhanced software improving in-stock, inventory accuracy, and flow wherever consumers shop — in stores, pickup, or home delivery.

“We listen when customers tell us how they want to shop, and we need to serve them. For example, pickup became a real advantage for us during and after the pandemic, having 4,600 forward fulfillment centers called Walmarts located within 10 miles of 90 per cent of the United States population,” said Greg Cathey, Walmart senior vice president of transformation and platform support. “Customer told us that they like pickup, they want pickup, and they want more of it. And they also told us they like and want delivery, so could we just bring it to their house? The answer is yes.”

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