Retailers and brands have invested heavily over the past two decades to become customer-centric, but the unprecedented pace of change in customer demands and technology has, at best, produced mixed results for these efforts. That said, leading retailers and brands are taking a new and transformative approach to their operational and organizational models.

They are looking beyond their own four walls and orchestrating an adaptive network of partners to offer a personalized blend of products and services to customers wherever and whenever they demand. This next phase in organizational transformation is based upon a collaborative ecosystem that is open and interconnected. These network-centric organizations exist to serve one purpose – the customer.

Salesforce, in joint research with Accenture, have produced a new report, Retail Transformation to Customer-Centric Organizations, which includes 200 surveys and 20 interviews with retail executives. The findings will help retailers and brands navigate the complex transformation to a network-centric organization.

Key findings:

  • 70% of respondents said that material or significant organizational change is required to effectively satisfy customer demands
  • Far fewer brands than retailers believe that their organization requires significant change, suggesting that these organizations underestimate the level of change that will ensue
  • Market insight or innovation are the most important characteristics necessary to become a network-centric organization
  • There is a direct link between organizational maturity and business performance
  • Culture remains a major roadblock to change

According to the CEO of a global ultra luxury brand, “Organizations will look and act a lot different in the near future. They must transform to open and adaptive networks that orchestrate the experience from a myriad of partners on behalf of their customer. Retailers and brands will become stewards of customers and deliver personalized and relevant experiences wherever they choose to engage.”

The research has identified six characteristics that define the organization of the future — resulting in an adaptive, open and intelligent operation focused completely on the customer.

  1. Adaptive: Organizational maturity and change is a journey – not a destination. Success correlates to a clear understanding of the journey and one’s place on it.
  2. Collaborative: It is unlikely that all capabilities exist within one organization. Do not be insulated or isolated. Collaborate and partner. Systems and processes must be open and agile to extend beyond one’s own enterprise and industry.
  3. Intelligent: Become a master and steward of data. Test. Learn. Move. Leverage customer and market insights to innovate at pace and personalize each shopping experience.

It’s no surprise that retail is in the midst of massive disruption. Customer-centricity was a transitional step toward addressing it, but they are not optimally organized for the future, and many recognize that radical change must occur. This change requires them to cut deep into the fabric of their organization, tear it apart, and sew it together in a fundamentally different way to effectively operate in this new world. We’ve uncovered the blueprint for organizational transformation, which will change the way retailers think about designing their organization, attracting talent, and optimizing their operations.

Download the report today.