We all know that retail is evolving. The signs are clear in the news headlines about new technologies, changes in customer sentiment and the struggles once-dominant brands are facing in today’s marketplace.

Yet some retailers stand out from the crowd with fresh approaches, winning customer loyalty even as they shake up traditional ways of delivering products and engaging with shoppers.

JDA partnered with Retail Systems Research to discover what makes these disruptors unique. By surveying over 100 C-suite executives and senior leadership at both disruptive and non-disruptive retailers, JDA and RSR uncovered insights that can help retailers survive and thrive in the years ahead.

Most importantly, this survey can help retailers understand what retailers will have to do to keep up with customers’ shopping preferences and fulfillment demands in the years to come.

Surprising Facts About Disruptive Retailers

The results of the 2018 Retail Disruptors Survey help dispel some myths about these game-changing companies. The stereotypical view of a disruptive firm is that it might look like a hot startup – burning through capital, investing in new technologies at random, or ignoring brick-and-mortar retail and operating exclusively in e-commerce channels.

But we learned that many retail disruptors have stores. And they invest strategically in technology that they believe will give them an edge.

The retail disruptors RSR surveyed say they stand out because they provide the highest-quality products and services (53 percent); are much faster and more responsive than traditional retailers (51 percent); and/or have fundamentally changed the customer experience (42 percent). What’s more, retail disruptors may be more successful at using technology to improve customer experience than non-disruptors are. Twenty-five percent of disruptors offer seamless shopping experiences across all channels, while only 13 percent of non-disruptors do.

And these companies’ bottom lines show the results of their decisions: 66 percent of disruptors said they’re profitable right now, while 28 percent said they will be in the next 18 months.

The full survey results contrast disruptive retailers’ attitudes toward technology and the types of technology they use to support decision-making. Those attitudes could make the difference between retailers who know enough to keep up with what their customers expect … or those who fail to adapt, and become less relevant with the passage of time.

Laser-Focused on Customer Experience

The survey results show that disruptive retailers are more willing to sacrifice faster growth trajectories to achieve the kinds of customer experiences that shoppers expect. Doing so requires the right blend of human observations and data-driven insights, leveraging new technologies like machine learning.

In a turbulent market, retail disruptors realize that technology provides a strategic edge in key business areas. Rather than just a cost to be managed, technology is critical to the success of retailers in today’s world.

And while we can’t know exactly how retail will look in the years ahead, retail disruptors know that the customer has to be at the heart of every decision – and that technology provides a necessary competitive advantage.

Download the survey findings report for full insights from the 2018 Retail Disruptors Survey. And register for our March 7 webinar with Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR, exploring the survey results in-depth and revealing how retailers can adapt to win.