Print this page Share

Reshaping Retail: Why Technology is Transforming the Industry and How to Win in the New Consumer Driven World

ISBN: 978-1-118-65666-2
208 pages
August 2013
Reshaping Retail: Why Technology is Transforming the Industry and How to Win in the New Consumer Driven World (1118656660) cover image


The modern retail system has worked to dazzling effect. From the 19th century, store owners emerged from small beginnings to set in train an industry that has seen some operators become nationally, even globally, dominant. Along the way, they turned retailing into an art, and then a science. Now retailers in emerging markets appear to be repeating the story all over again, except on a scale and at a speed beyond anything we have seen before.

Given all of this, it can be hard for those who work in retailing to accept that the industry as we know it is living on borrowed time, on the brink of transformation. There is now an urgency with which conventional store-based retailers must now act and the extent of the challenges this change represents in strategic, organizational, and above all, technological terms.

Reshaping Retail sets out the driving causes, current trends and consequences of a transformation in retail triggered by technology. The changes go far beyond making items available for sale on the internet. Starting by briefly setting the historical and business system contexts for retail and describe the role that technology has played in the creation of modern retail it then explains the underlying technological drivers behind the current revolution – radical changes in the capacity of both hardware and software, mobile telecommunications changes and the advances of the Internet.

Ultimately, success will hinge on more than competence; it will come down to a way of thinking. Customer-centricity will need to be valued not just by the store owner, as in the past, but also by all employees in the organization. It will need to become embedded in their daily tasks. The same applies to technology, which must be at the center of the organization and recognized as such by everyone.

With a combination of extensive desk and field research, interviews with leading retailers and technologists, together with the real world experience of practitioners in this area, Reshaping Retail will inspire and help store retailers to make the necessary transformation now to win in the new consumer driven world.

See More

Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Introduction 1

1 A Brief History of Retailing 7

The mercantile era 11

The modern era 13

The digital era 22

2 Technology: The Crucial Retail Enabler 27

How retailers add value 30

Connecting the chain 33

Knowing what you know 39

A succession of evolutions 43

3 Game-Changing Technologies 47

Revolution 50

The next era of technology change 57

What it means for consumers 86

4 Consumer Empowerment 91

The consumer decision journey 94

Customer empowerment tools 95

Retailers’ response to consumers’ changing behavior 103

5 Toward a New Retailing Paradigm 113

The changing role of the physical store 116

New contenders 128

The power of information productivity 135

6 The Future of Retail 143

Stand-alone archetypes 146

Building on the stand-alone models 155

7 A Call to Action 165

Leapfrogging 169

The way forward 170

Making it happen 181

Acknowledgments 191

About the Authors 193

Index 195

See More

Author Information

Stefan Niemeier is a Director of McKinsey & Company and leads its European “Technology in Retail” group. He has advised retailers around the globe and across many retail sub-sectors. Stefan holds a PhD in Economics and a Master in Business Administration.

Andrea Zocchi is a Director of McKinsey & Company where he leads the Consumer Practice in Southern Europe. Andrea is also an adjunct professor at IMT - Institute for Advanced Studies - in Lucca (Italy), where he holds a course on advanced problem-solving techniques for PhD students. Andrea holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and prior to joining McKinsey, he worked for Hewlett Packard Italy.

Marco Catena is an Associate Principal of McKinsey & Company. He works with retail and mobile telecommunications players on commercial and performance transformation topics. Marco holds a PhD in Industrial Management and a Degree in Management Engineering.

See More


“A fascinating book about the new realities of retail. The connected consumer is in control and businesses that put them first with a seamless experience of their brand across channels,countries and screens will continue to win.”—Peter Fitzgerald, Director of Retail, Technology and Media, Google

“Digital technologies and empowered consumers are truly reshaping retail. This book is an insightful and practical guide to the revolutionary forces at work in the industry today. It will help retailers all around the world navigate past the challenges and capture the opportunities awaiting as retail becomes a digital business.”—Andrew McAfee, MIT Sloan School of Management

“This book is a highly interesting read for every retail executive who wants to understand the implications of the new consumer-driven world.”—Christoph Lütke Schelhowe, Zalando

“Reshaping Retail is not only a thorough and timely research project, but also a fascinating vehicle for presenting scenarios and insights regarding the evolution of retail in the coming years. Moreover it helps to clearly understand how technology and innovation will change competition paradigms, consumers’ behaviour and the rules of the game. These trends will be a big challenge for retailers that, thanks also to the authors’ contribution, can be faced with new and convincing interpretation tools.”—Massimo Bongiovanni, President, Coop Centrale Adriatica

See More
Back to Top