Change is the only constant — meeting the challenges of continuous technological transformation

Consumer behaviours, preferences and expectations are constantly evolving. What can be done to keep pace?

In the era of accelerated technological progress, we are dealing with significant changes in consumer behaviours. Additionally, due to concerns about high inflation and the uncertain current global macroeconomic situation, consumers feel forced to respectively adjust their shopping habits in line with changed purchasing power. To keep maintaining and attracting customers,  this evolving consumer outlook needs to be monitored and properly addressed on an ongoing basis.

According to the PwC February 2023 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, conducted on 9,180 consumers from 25 countries, 96 per cent of consumers intend to introduce a saving regime within the next six months. Also, 53 per cent of respondents refrain from unnecessary spending, and 49 per cent of respondents buy certain products only during promotional periods. 

Despite the unfavourable factors and considerable uncertainty, however, customers are still eager to return to their pre-Covid-19 habits. Thanks to technology, they seek online and in-store experiences that suit both their lifestyles and wallets.

To a large extent, it is still the experience of Covid-19 that affects the expectations and experiences of consumers and, thus, also the serving industries. Despite a clear cooling of the e-commerce market, 43 per cent of consumers said they plan to increase online shopping in the next six months. 

Even considering the above factors, consumers remain willing to experiment. They are looking for less friction – but that does not mean they are exclusively opting for online or physical purchases, which are all done through technology. According to the Global Consumer survey, consumers continue to experiment with next-generation digital platforms, including the metaverse.

The results of the survey clearly show that it is not enough to merely identify and respond to current actions and expectations of consumers. The essential part of business development planning shall be the investments that will allow you to meet your clients where they want to be in the future. 

The positive initial step towards discovering what consumers actually think would be to familiarise yourself with our latest Global Consumer Insights Pulse.

Digitisation of the supply chain — fleeting trend or necessity?

In the context of rapid technological transformation and continuous market disruptions, caused, for instance, by the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent volatile geopolitical environment, the effective use of technology in the supply chain becomes  even more important. In addition to the obvious economic benefits such as cost reductions and efficiency improvements, investing in supply chain digitisation can also mitigate risks as well as help to solve environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is already at the doorstep of today’s business and the only question is how to prepare properly so as not to lose track. Based on this trend, as a result of increasing pressure for process digitalisation, a number of businesses have already adopted or are in the process of adopting various digital solutions into their supply chains. However, as indicated in PwC’s 2023 Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey, 83 per cent of executives say that their investments in supply chain digitisation have not yet brought the expected results.

That is why leaders need to realise that the first step for digitisation to succeed is to properly set  business goals and  expected outcomes. It has to be well understood that digitisation as such is not a goal itself but is only a tool (albeit a very powerful tool) for obtaining the desired business outcomes.

Set goals should differ between particular businesses in the same way as the businesses differ from each other. These should be tailored to a number of individual factors  such as how the entity operates or its organisational maturity. Still, in order to make the transformation the real driver of success,  goals should be defined carefully  and with a big-picture perspective.

As the results of the supply chain survey show, management tends to pay the most attention to immediate, short-term goals and challenges, while activities and investments contributing to the creation of long-term value are given  less focus. Moreover, only a third of the executives surveyed say that increasing resilience is the main goal for which they are investing in supply chain digitisation. In parallel, 86 per cent of those surveyed agree their organisation should invest more in technology to identify and measure supply chain risk.

What can be done to increase the chances of success? 

Leaders should not let current, short-term problems and challenges dominate their attention.  Business leaders should think strategically, not only in terms of existing teams but should build resilience to respond to constant changes. Take time to analyse your organisation’s long-term business goals and, based on these, carefully select and use the right tools to achieve them

Investment should be made with a specific vision of its aim. It is not just about basic indicators such as return on investment. If the actions taken result in monetary savings or released production capacity, it is necessary to analyse how they can be reinvested. Such analysis should be done well in advance, not after the fact.

Still, as Bernard Siekański highlighted and elaborated on during this year’s Retail Summit, while the digitisation of the supply chain may bring significant benefits to a number of stakeholders, it also comes with a number of challenges.

Therefore, even if accurately defined, digitising of the supply chain also needs to be properly armed, based on big data analysis, artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies, which are widely used within the process of digital transformation of supply chains.

This article is part of Digital Future of CEE, a regional discussion series, powered by Emerging Europe, Microsoft and PwC.

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