Retail and consumer goods

Transforming from the front

The retail and consumer goods sector is among the most successful at Front Office Transformation, new research from PwC reveals. How can it capitalise on that success and supercharge its future transformation? Retail and consumer goods customers have never had such high expectations. Thanks to digital technologies, they can now interact with brands whenever and wherever they want – and they demand a lot from each interaction. Meanwhile trade buyers in the consumer goods industry expect the same functionality and highquality experience offered to individual customers. This sea change is forcing retail and consumer goods businesses to make significant investments in Front Office Transformation (FOT), which covers areas including sales, marketing, and customer experience. These investments are crucial to creating a retail and consumer goods sector that is fit for purpose in the digital world.

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What is Front Office Transformation? A major project to transform the business processes and technologies used to identify, engage, sell to, service, and retain customers – across sales, marketing, service, and support.

Accelerate the cultural shift

Despite the overall success retailers and consumer goods firms have had in FOT, culture still needs improvement. Almost every company in the sector (97%) says that transformation proved to be a major cultural challenge, and just 6% say that employees were very keen to take part in FOT. This reflects the widely held view of staff in the sector that FOT is a side project rather than a crucial company initiative: 98% of retail and consumer goods companies say that this was the case. 

The more people-centric the company, the more successful its FOT: 63% of those companies that strongly believe that their Front Office Transformation put people ahead of technology describe their FOT as a success, compared with just 52% of companies overall. This suggests that retailers and consumer goods firms should prioritise their people and invest in creating a transformative culture across the business.

Seniority matters

Building that all-important transformative culture demands the close involvement of businesses’ senior leadership teams – if actions are not seen to be demonstrated by the most senior figures in the business, the rest of the company will be less inclined to follow. This means that buy-in from the top is another crucial factor in successful FOT. More than two-thirds (68%) of retailers and consumer goods companies say that their senior leadership teams checked in on their Front Office Transformation project at regular intervals, and almost a third (31%) say that their leaders were hands-on and fairly actively involved.

The wider research shows that heavy senior leadership involvement is a critical success factor in FOT - 68% of companies overall whose senior leadership were fairly or heavily involved in FOT say that their project was a success, compared with only 45% of companies whose top team was not actively involved. This is something that the retail and consumer sector should take note of.

A good start. Overall, retail and consumer goods companies have seen impressive results from their Front Office Transformation.

Enable, engage, transform

Successful Front Office Transformation also depends on employees embracing change – it is they, after all, who will deliver the customer experience, and employee experience is a powerful driver of customer experience. Our research suggests that many companies in the retail and consumer goods sector could do more to engage their staff in the transformation process. Their current efforts are often passive: 54% use online training modules that staff complete at their own pace, and 53% expect staff to sit through webinars and videos that explain transformation. More imaginative approaches to employee enablement around FOT would be more engaging. Escape rooms, for example: 56% of retail and consumer goods companies are already offering experience-based learning. Overall, our research shows that companies that invest heavily – more than 30% of their FOT budget – in enablement tend to transform more successfully: 62% of companies that invested more than 30% of their FOT budgets in enablement say that their FOT was ‘successful’, compared with 52% of all companies.

Download the study for all the details here

How can this sector capitalise on its head start?

Contact us

Alexander Schultz-Wirth

Alexander Schultz-Wirth

Partner, Customer Transformation and Technology Consulting, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 47 97