The introduction of digital technology in retail has increased customers' expectations for online shopping and in-store experience. Customers expect more relevant information, higher service levels, on-demand self-service, and personal interaction in a multi-channel shopping solution. Meeting these expectations requires a radically different approach to how the sector creates, delivers, and captures value beyond a physical store.
The BEST in Retail project has been established with the aim of building competence for the development of new and sustainable business models - digital ecosystems - which enable Norwegian retailers to create and extract value from digital technology while laying the foundations for an AI factory. Those who attack this comprehensive task and challenge are the research center Digital Innovation for Sustainable Growth (DIG) at NHH combined with the expertise from the grocery chain COOP, the logistics company Posten and the main organization VIRKE, an employer organization that is dominant in retail. digital technologies from SINTEF and NCE Finance Innovation, the project will develop digitally activated customer journeys and customer-centered solutions that enable Norwegian retailers to handle these challenges.
In keeping with the plan, SINTEF has conducted several in-depth interviews of key informants among DIG partners and companies outside. The goal is to uncover various customer journeys ("Customer Journey Mapping") as key people experience them. The picture that emerges so far is that it is easy to get lost in customer journeys (not see the forest for the trees) and thus lose track of the tasks.
Through several project meetings between SINTEF and the DIG researchers, we have talked our way through the findings and started building the content for an overall customer travel map. SINTEF?s data is shared with the DIG team. At the end of the fourth quarter 2021, we started from the DIG side to facilitate conversations with managers to reveal their understanding of and maturity for ecosystem thinking as an alternative way of organizing economic activity. A list of names of who we want to interview has been established and the process of agreeing time for interviews has begun with estimated implementation in the first quarter of 2022. In this process, there have been several meetings in the DIG team about the way forward.
Finally, it is agreed time to involve, update and get input from the BEST partners before we get too far in the work.
The recent wave of digitalization in the retail sector is heavily disrupting traditional business models. This disruption is driven by two factors. First, it opens for new forms of competition from abroad and from entrants arriving from adjacent markets, who possess digital capabilities that often outstrip that of incumbents. Thus, the nature and behavior of competitors has become less visible and predictable for incumbent retailers. Second, these digital technologies heavily affect the interaction with customers, who have raised their expectations concerning the overall customer experience both online but also in the physical stores. Overall, digitalization has raised the bar for the Norwegian retail sector, in order to halt the disruption and instead exploit the digital transformation to its benefit requires a significant competence boost.
To deliver this boost, NHH teams up with Norwegian grocery giant Coop (owning physical and digital stores), the logistic company Posten (including its retail platform Amoi.no), Virke, an enterprise organization with a dominant presence in services and retail, the fintech cluster NCE Finance Innovation, and the applied research center SINTEF. This highly committed consortia will contribute to the identification of the competence needs in Norwegian retail and address these needs through developing research-based knowledge, generic models, and methodologies that allow the retail industry to obtain these competences.
In this project, we emphasize the development of competences to: (i) continuously innovate the business model to leverage digital technologies and improve the overall customer experience, both in the physical store and online; (ii) design and innovate the digital ecosystem, which gradually becomes the main mechanism in which retail operates; and (iii) to understand how to design and implement a digital infrastructure that allows for effective and efficient data capturing and analysis to secure future value creation.