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Data-driven strategies continue to define retail

By Retail Technology | Thursday October 10 2019

Data-driven digital enablement was the main theme at Retail Week’s Tech. held in London last week, writes RetailTechnology staff writer

Where digital growth has been a major area of focus for retailers recently, those leading the transformation revealed the resulting power of data to differentiate at this year’s Retail Week Tech. event.


Leading UK and international retailer attendees and exhibitors gathered to share the latest developments and insights from best practice application of technology to compete in increasingly competitive markets.

This was evident from the strategy of leading Chinese digital giant,, outlined by its retail solutions general manager, Chenkai King, who kicked off proceedings as the event’s keynote speaker. 


King highlighted three major trends emerging from the rapid penetration of ecommerce in China: these included new commerce types driven by social media and content; and, customer-centred value chains.


He also said: “The value of product is also decreasing, where the service, content or data the product is used to access is growing. Take smart speakers, for example, the realisation of value begins post-transaction.”

Other examples could include smart appliances that were capable of reordering supplies or generating maintenance notifications. But technology is essential to harnessing the benefits of all three trends for


“Technology provides the granularity to develop products and systems that can move from mass to one-to-one selling,” added King, citing an example of AI-powered image search boosting conversion rates by 150%.

The three key strategic technology capabilities requires to achieve its digitally enabled vision of “Boundaryless Retail” as a result target smart consumption, smart logistics and smart supply chains. uses its ‘smart’ data across four main vectors – place, time, product and people – as the driving forces behind its strategic innovation and partnerships, as well as rapid sales growth and international expansion. 


The retailer’s fulfilment collaboration with Japan’s Rakuten was held up of an example of the company’s work to decouple parts of the value chain to open up their technology services to other retailers and partners.


Data power


Clodagh Moriarty, Sainsbury’s chief digital officer, built on the King’s endorsement of the power of data generated by digital sales and customer interactions to act as a catalyst for differentiation and growth. 


She used her keynote presentation to announce the national launch of a newly digitised version of Nectar, the UK grocer’s 18-million members strong loyalty scheme, to help cater to the on-demand, digital consumer.

Clodagh Moriarty, Sainsbury’s chief digital officer, told delegates attending her keynote at on the day of the launch that work to digitise Nectar would.


“In the next 6-12 months, we’re bringing together a lot of the work we’ve been building in the last 2-5 years, so we can be there for our customers wherever, whenever and however they want,” she said.

Unlike and its greenfield opportunity to build IT systems from scratch as an online-first retailer, Moriarty added that Sainsbury’s has migrated its monolithic legacy infrastructure and architecture 

"We’re decoupling from those big monolithic beasts... We’ve taken these systems and broken them down into modules,” she explained, citing its digital Nectar launch as one example of this more flexible approach. 


Work to trial an app that would consolidate its scan-and-go SmartShop and home delivery Chop Chop services revealed customers also expected to be able to collect and manage their Nectar loyalty points in-app too.

Moriarty the convenience and control of the consolidated app led to an 11% uplift in numbers of customers using the SmartShop service, who also spend as much as 18% more than regular Sainsbury’s customers. 

She also pointed out that the data generated from such efforts would help “to deliver for the now and helps to fuel for future growth”.





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