Economist Intelligence Unit Exclusive Report

Finding Retail Growth: A View From the Corner Office

The retail sector is facing disruptions like never before, forcing organizations to rethink their strategic and operational approaches for creating retail growth. An Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey of worldwide retail executives provides in-depth view of what high-growth retailers see as the most significant factors impacting their growth initiatives, and how best to address them.

Download this report examine the tactics retail executives are taking to grow over the next three years.

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High-performers see opportunities where others see threats

The high-performing group of respondents takes a very different view on how to drive retail growth. High-performers, representing just under one-third of all survey respondents, are those organizations that ranked their performance “significantly above” or “somewhat above” their competitors’ on three metrics: same-store sales growth, margin and inventory turn rates.

High-performers have quite different perceptions of which trends are most important and, crucially, whether these trends offer opportunities or should be considered threats. For example, 69% of high-performers who see globalization as an important trend also see it as an opportunity, while only 43% of lower performers do so.

A challenging and changing landscape shifts executive priorities

The survey’s C-level retail executives considered increased globalization, increased security risks (such as from cyber attacks), shifting consumer tastes and global marketplaces to be the most powerful shifts in industry dynamics over the next three years.

Globalization itself isn’t news, but digital commerce has accelerated its effects on retailers by reducing the traditional cost, complexity and even importance of physical locations. Under Armour, for example, expects to have 30 different e-commerce experiences covering 80% of their key markets around the world by 2018.

Executives go back to the basics for differentiation

Despite the disruption caused by these trends, many retail leaders stress the importance of focusing on the basics. The survey showed that 60% of senior retail executives view product excellence (defined as high-quality, unique or innovative products) as the most important differentiator in the current environment, while 53% view seamless service (defined as high quality service or service across channels) as such.