By FintechOS · April 07, 2020
6 minute read

Digital Transformation in Retail: The Three Golden Rules for Wannabe Winners

At a time when most industries have been turned upside down by tech disruption and are now facing an imminent economic crisis, retailers need to up their chances of winning ­­in a crowded digital space. But how? FintechOS has uncovered three golden rules.

The Covid-19 crisis is a worry for everyone. The pandemic could cost the global economy trillions of dollars, according to some estimates. At least 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance and about one third of the world is under some kind of lockdown.

Despite all of the concern about Covid-19, some businesses seem to be doing well, especially those in the retail sector. Take the case of Delhaize, a leading food retailer: its website traffic grew up to 70%  in the first days of March as most traditional shoppers moved online.

To manage the increasing demand, Carrefour, another giant retailer, announced a partnership with Uber Eats in France, starting April 6th. It goes like this: customers send their requests by phone or in the Uber Eats app, they choose the most convenient Carrefour store, place the order and then pay.

For Millennials and younger generations like Gen-Z, shopping habits like these are already part of everyday life. But are retailers ready to meet multiple demands in the long term? Have retailers adopted enough technology to cope in the digital economy? For most, the answer is yes.

But things get complicated when customers want to buy more than food, cleaning products or toilet paper. Let’s say a customer needs a laptop, a new TV or furniture and he or she doesn’t have the money on the spot. What happens? There are three main scenarios: the customer gives up; he or she looks for money elsewhere (friends or the bank, usually); or the retailer grabs the opportunity and comes up with the financial service they need in an instant.

Naturally, we think the third scenario sounds best, since it can build new revenue streams and increase customer loyalty.

But what do retailers need to do to be able to seize these kinds of opportunities? Well, we’ve uncovered the three golden rules for wannabe winners in retail.

1.Own the customer experience

Lots of retail organisations already offer some form of financial services, but few own the customer experience. “In most instances, the consumer deals directly with the financial institution and has limited exposure to the retailer, which limits the retailer’s control of the customer experience”, says Lee McCready, Emerging FSI Lead at FintechOS.

But controlling the user experience is a golden rule in the retail business, he thinks, and automation and hyper-personalisation can make it possible in these kinds of transactions. McCready explains how: technology sits between the customer and the finance house, enabling the retailer to control the user experience and capture all user data; this can then feed into building individual customer personas, which in turn enables hyper-personalisation of products.

“It also means the retailer can potentially act as a broker and have multiple financial products available – they can also introduce insurance and use this approach to build bespoke products that are hyper-personalised”.

Owning the customer experience means onboarding your customers, simplifying engagement by enabling them to onboard via their channel of choice, aligning to brand message, and maintaining brand tie-in and loyalty.

Controlling the user experience is a golden rule in the retail business. Automation and hyper-personalisation can make it possible, thinks Lee McCready, Emerging FSI Lead at FintechOS.

2.Deploy digital products and services

Another challenge some retailers face is that they have to pass their customer directly to their financial partner because their legacy systems operate as silos, so they can’t leverage what data they do have on their customer as part of digital integration.

Lee McCready of FintechOS thinks the solution here is to take an Evolutive Data Model approach, bringing together data (both structured and unstructured) from multiple sources and surfacing it to multiple data processors (AI, business workflow management, Omni channel automation, OCR and so on) to build automated business processes. These processes could include accessing the financial or insurance partner’s systems to facilitate end-to-end customer journeys that are streamlined and automated.

“The Customer Experience story also plays to this as it would form the basis of customer engagement”, he says.

In short, the second golden rule goes like this: rapidly deploy digital products and services without the need for wholesale digital transformation or FCA approval.

3.Think end to end

Knowing what products to deploy is also a common challenge, with organisations almost trialing new financial and insurance products on the fly. “I think the approach here is an end-to-end proposition which combines CX and data capture at the front end, data integration via the Evolutive Data Layer, process integration and automation via a digital OS – like FintechOS’s – with data analysis and product automation via DCX360”, says Lee McCready, who will host a webinar on financial services on April 15th. 

This end-to-end approach means that organisations can capture customer details in as frictionless a manner as possible, automate processes, integrate with a lender/insurer via API, and hyper-personalise products based on customer spending behaviour.

So, what’s the upshot? By embracing financial technology, retailers can reduce operational costs and build new revenue streams.

All-in: do it right

Digital innovation isn’t easy: most industries have struggled, from media, banking and insurance to telco, tourism and health. Same goes for the public sector. But that shouldn’t put anyone off. The key is just to invest in tech in the right way.

Richard Wolff, managing director and UK retail lead at Accenture Strategy, quoted by the British media, thinks the problem for retailers has been that they’ve invested “along with the digital trend, instead of trying to get ahead of it.”

Retailers took a different approach to regain a competitive advantage. “It’s become clear that ‘organic’ digital transformation, where retailers transform themselves into digital businesses entirely through internal change, is all but impossible. To get ahead, many retailers are buying digital competitors in quick succession to give themselves a competitive advantage”, Wolff explained to The Telegraph.

Or retailers could adopt cutting-edge technologies and end-to-end thinking, as Lee McCready, Emerging FSI Lead at FintechOS pointed out earlier. But they have to do it right.


Disclaimer: This article was compiled based on publicly available information released by owners*. It is not intended to be viewed, nor treated as an official source of information. *The sources consulted for this article:; Business Insider; Bloomberg; Les Echos;;; FintechOS analysts.


Watch webinar on-demand – How do businesses provide financial services to build new revenue streams, decrease costs and increase customer loyalty without breaking the bank?

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