Disrupters more responsive to customer demands

Retail disrupters are not afraid to take a chance on new technology. (FotoCuisinette/ThinkStock)

Disrupters of the retail industry are willing to sacrifice faster growth in order to take a chance on new technology and innovation in the customer-experience space, according to the recent JDA Software's 2018 Retail Disruptors Survey

"Retail disrupters realize that technology is a strategic enabler and not just a cost to be managed," said JoAnn Martin, vice president of the retail industry strategy, JDA. 

The real retail disrupters in the survey are not only investing in technology, they're also providing the highest quality products, 53%; are faster and more responsive than traditional retailers, 51%; and they have fundamentally changed their customer experience, 42%.

And these sacrifices do not mean these retailers are devoid of success. As many as 66% of disrupters said they are profitable now and 28% said they will be in the next 18 months. And almost half, 49%, are growing at a rate higher than 11%, versus only 30% of nondisrupters. 

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When asked what makes them successful, the disrupters themselves said its a balance between profit and customer experience. As many as 25% of those surveyed offer a seamless shopping experience, versus 13% of nondisrupters. 

Of course data is important to any retailer, but disrupters also give big value to human insight. They are more likely than nondisrupters to value human insight over data-driven insight in the categories of store operations, sourcing and procurement, and merchandising. 

Finally, disrupters are first to embrace new technology. One-quarter of those surveyed had implemented digital technologies, versus 19% of nondisrupters. And 35% of these nondisrupters do not even have plans to implement digital technology.

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What are these disrupters investing in? Technology that improves the experience in social media, mobile devices for in-store staff and integration of IoT devices and data. These respondents are also more likely than nondisrupters to react more quickly to customer needs. 

And disrupters are supporting the continuation of brick-and-mortar stores. Currently, 87% of those surveyed have a brick-and-mortar presence and will continue to open stores. Another 71% say cross-channel fulfillment will drive foot traffic into stores, a sign that BOPIS and BORIS will continue to grow.