Is innovation the new superpower for retailers?

In the fast-moving world of fashion, retailers are under increasing pressure to innovate in order to improve the customer experience and stay ahead of the curve. New technologies, service models and competitors are disrupting the market at every turn; but is innovation really the answer - the new superpower for retailers? To find out, we surveyed 500 European fashion retailers on how well they are delivering on the fundamentals of retail – from delivery on promise to peak trading – as well as the extent to which they are driving innovation in their business.

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Distracted by innovation

Many fashion retailers are prioritising innovation despite worrying gaps in the basics of a good customer experience.

Failing to deliver on promise

Shipped on time:

81%

of orders

Delivered to the customer on time:

78%

of orders

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70%

of retailers that ship on time less than half of the time view innovation as a business priority (versus 54% of all retailers)

Unprepared for peak trading

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83%

of retailers cannot rely on their website to be fast and stable during peak trading periods – and the poorest performers are being distracted by innovation

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Peak trading reliability versus innovation focus

How well does your site cope with increases in traffic over peak periods?

Under pressure from customer queries

Box Box Box Box Box Box Box Box Box Box

30%

of orders result in a query to the contact centre

Contact centre queries by country

UK &
Ireland
UK & Ireland
42%
28%
14%
14%
2%
Italy Italy
35%
21%
25%
17%
1%
France France
28%
20%
28%
17%
4%
3%
Germany Germany
5%
7%
49%
25%
11%
3%
Nordics Nordics
5%
16%
33%
33%
12%
Benelux Benlux
5%
5%
41%
41%
7%
Less than 10% 10% to 19% 20% to 39% 40% to 59% 60% to 79% 80% and more

And those retailers that said 40% or more of orders result in a query to the contact centre are focusing their innovation efforts on customer-facing technology instead of trying to reduce the number of queries.

The challenges of innovating

Once the fundamentals are in place, retailers should use innovation to make the customer experience better, faster, and easier; but innovation is not easy.

The importance of innovation

9 in 10

retailers take innovation seriously

Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head
How important is innovation to your company?

What's driving innovation?

Keeping up with the competition is the key driver for most

What is the primary driver for innovation within your company?
Competitive pressure
46%
Changing customer demand/expectation
29%
Internal appetite
16%
Part of the company culture
9%

What’s holding retailers back?

Retailers cite a wide range of barriers to innovation, including:

Which of the following are barriers to innovation in your company? (aggregate of top 3 barriers)
Not enough time/resource

43%

Lack of investment

40%

Integration issues

39%

Who’s in charge of innovation?

There is a lack of clarity around ownership of innovation

Who, within your organisation, is responsible for innovation?
Chief Executive/Managing Director
24%
Chief Marketing Officer
18%
Chief Digital Officer
16%
It's embedded into all teams
15%
We have a dedicated role for innovation
15%
Chief Customer/Experience Officer
11%
No one in charge
1%
Process Process Process Process Process Process Process Process Process Process
and only 4 in 10

have a process for innovation

How do retailers measure innovation success?

Customer satisfaction and increased revenue are the most popular KPIs, but retailers should align their KPIs to the problems they are trying to solve

Which of the following KPIs do you currently use to assess how well your innovation strategy is performing? (aggregate of top 3 KPIs)
Customer satisfaction levels
45%
Increased revenue
44%
Number of new customers attained
42%
Quantity of new ideas
33%
Increase in number of purchases or AOV/customer
32%
Positive media coverage
27%
Process improvements
(e.g. % orders fulfilled on time)
22%