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Carrefour financial services
Carrefour has digitized its financial and insurance services operations in its bank branches. Photo Credit: Carrefour

Digital-First Transformation

As consumer shopping preferences have begun to normalize in a post-COVID retail marketplace, an increasing number of retailers and consumer brands have come to recognize that eCommerce and legacy brick & mortar retail are increasingly becoming complementary platforms to serve and engage shoppers rather than separate and isolated shopping channels.

From the mid-1990s until the current decade, both retailers and consumer brands have assigned responsibility for the growth and development of their digital retail channels to separate, dedicated teams with specific eCommerce expertise, while their traditional retail business remained the focus of their legacy business teams.

As the consumer in a number of retail markets around the world has demonstrated a preference to research and complete their purchase journey across both digital and physical channels, both retailers and consumer brands have begun to integrate their digital and legacy teams into cohesive omnichannel go-to-market business units.

Unfortunately, leaders of these newly formed business units often lack an understanding of digital retail merchandising fundamentals, key elements of the purchase conversion “funnel”, benchmarking success metrics, and critical aspects of providing leadership oversight of an integrated business team, enabled by eCommerce technology, tools, and processes.

Increasingly, market-leading brands and retailers are making a commitment to invest time and resources into integrating their siloed legacy brick & mortar and digital retail teams into a single, unified business team, focused on serving consumers whenever, wherever, and however they wish to research and make a purchase.

One of the top retailers in the world, French multinational Carrefour, has embraced this transformation aggressively, as Chairman and CEO Alexandre Bompard said:

“We now want to transform Carrefour, a traditional retailer with e-commerce capabilities, into a Digital Retail Company, which places digital and data at the heart of all its operations and its value creation model.”

Carrefour's mobile interface

Carrefour’s mobile shopping interface. Photo Credit: Carrefour

For the team at McMillanDoolittle, our firm has centered our efforts on helping our clients build a “digital-first” business strategy that provides them with a strong foundation for their transformation into a business focused on the omnichannel consumer and prepared for success in the digital age.

Executive Education

We begin those efforts by educating our clients, from the C-Suite to senior management, on the fundamental elements of digital merchandising and marketing.  Our new Executive Education Workshop is a 3-day immersive training focused on the core elements of digital retail merchandising concepts, measures, and core practices directed at upscaling the knowledge base of mid-to-senior level leaders within retailers and consumer brands.  McMillanDoolittle partners provide decades of experience and expertise in digital retail to understand how digital and physical assets work together to serve the omnichannel consumer and prepare your leaders to lead and grow an integrated digital retail business.

Digital-First Product Planning

Historically, both consumer brands and omnichannel retailers have focused primarily on developing their legacy brick-and-mortar retail product offering, leaving their online product offering strategy as a secondary effort that may not serve them or the consumer most effectively in the future.

Most retailers and their consumer brand partners still realize the bulk of the revenue through legacy physical retail storefronts.  This fact, when combined with a still-prominent siloed approach to managing digital retail channel strategy separately and apart from legacy retail channels, brings to mind the tired adage “but we’ve always done it this way” as a potentially frustrating but accurate assessment of the go-to-market strategy for a number of world-class participants in the retail ecosystem here in the US market as well as other markets around the world.

ecommerce grocery fulfillment

Express delivery and quick commerce have accelerated Carrefour’s ecommerce operations. Photo Credit: Carrefour

A concept gaining traction in the retail community is a “digital-first” approach to product offerings whereby a broader online assortment is conceived of, planned, and executed as a strategic focal point, with the legacy retail offering developed as a strategically devised “subset” of the broader digital offering.  Such an approach would take advantage of a broader potential audience available to brands and their retail partners from the standpoint of consumer demographics, without the physical space constraints and inventory dollar investments typically limiting legacy store product assortments.

McMillanDoolittle has developed an engagement strategy to help your brand assess your existing product planning process, benchmark your digital offerings and physical performance against world-class benchmarks, and design and pilot a digital-first product strategy that takes full advantage of the broad market opportunity of online selling while serving to refine your market-specific approach to physical retail with the benefits of data and consumer insights that produce increased performance and customer satisfaction.

Digital-First Strategy Areas

With a digitally savvy leadership team in place, brands and retailers alike are finding that traditional business processes including pricing, assortment strategy, activity forecasts, logistics and supply flows, and administrative processes require a new approach to support their transformation into a digital-first, consumer-focused organization. This transformation will contribute to the improvement of the customer experience, with greater personalization, and operational efficiency at headquarters as well as in stores. It will also have positive effects on the firm’s NPS, revenue, and operating income.

At McMillanDoolitte, our experts can help you craft a strategy to compete and win in a number of critical functional areas, including:

  • Organization Design, including Integrated Incentive Structure
  • Cross-channel Messaging, creating cohesive engagement In-Store & Online
  • Go-to-Market Strategies, including Content Syndication, Retail Media Management and 1P vs. 3P Strategy Planning
  • Cross-border Strategies
  • Supply Chain/Last Mile Delivery Strategies

Worldwide, the retail market is constantly reinventing itself to serve the ever-changing needs of the modern consumer. Just keeping up can seem daunting. At McMillanDoolittle, we don’t play to keep up, we play to win. We are passionate observers and influential players in the global retail scene. Our team is built on true expertise and our process on insights and innovation. The rules and playing field of retail may keep changing, but with custom, sustainable strategies, our clients don’t just compete, they win.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact us.


Scott Benedict

Scott Benedict is an accomplished retail merchant, educator, consultant, author, board member, keynote speaker, and digital retailing executive with more than 35 years of diverse experience spanning traditional brick-and-mortar retailing, eCommerce, omnichannel, and international retail merchandising and operations.

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