Technology and Innovation in Retail


One of the greatest changes facing retail today is driven by technology.  In 2013, Canadian Retailer held an Executive Roundtable in conjunction with KPMG; major Canadian retail executives discussed their experiences, lessons learned, progress and plans in the e-commerce world that retail faces today.  Very interestingly, the over-riding message from the report is that technology and innovation expands the retail horizon.

Multi-channel retail (in-store and online) is now being renamed omni-channel retailing and covers the wider world of in-store, online, mobile, and social media.  Some retailers have embraced omni-channel fully, while others are still testing the waters.  Omni-channel, when done well, creates a seamless experience for shoppers who move easily between integrated in-store, online, mobile and social media shopping worlds.   In the past, in-store and online often felt like competing channels to the shopper.

Today’s shopper is educated about what they are buying and they educate themselves by researching online what they plan to purchase.  While Canada lags behind the U.S. in online sales as a percentage of total retail sales, the numbers are rising rapidly as Canadians embrace omni-channel shopping.  Some interesting facts:

  • 53% increase in Internet users between 2009-2012, globally,
  • 78% of all purchasing decisions made today are made before a consumer enters the store,
  • 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones while in a physical store

(Source:  Google Think Insights, May 2013)

More smartphones than toilets?


“I recently heard a statistic that indicated 86 percent of Canadians make their purchasing decisions based on information gathered via their mobile devices.  I also heard another stat that said the world now has more smartphones than toilets!”  (David Margolis, Winners Canada, Canadian Retailer Executive Report)

Michael Medline of Canadian Tire believes that consumers today don’t differentiate between online and in-store which is why his company is shifting their focus to digital marketing that pulls together digital in-store and digital online.  “Interestingly, the technology and marketing folks in our organization have become best friends – which I never thought would happen!”  Medline goes on to say that despite these changes, the fundamentals of marketing in retail haven’t changed much over the years.  The consumer of today has the same wants and desires as the consumer of 100 years ago – the only difference now is that the tools we use to market have changed.”  (Canadian Retailer Executive Report, 2013 KPMG Executive Roundtable)

If you want to read the full report, go to