John Edgar, chief financial officer at Harrods, says the business is having to change the way it buys in order to succeed in the digital world.
Speaking at the World Retail Congress in Rome, he said: “We buy wide and shallow but the introduction of digital has meant that has had to change. What suited us for the last 150 years won’t be good enough for even the next five.”
Harrods currently has 26 million visitors to the site, but Edgar believes there is still a huge opportunity to grow. He said retailers need to invest in digital as not doing so is a bigger cost risk than the investment required.
Edgar also highlighted that retailers must not forget the most important thing: the product. “If you haven’t got good product and service then end of. Whatever the technology you invest in, you ultimately need product the customer wants to buy.”
Looking at interpreting analytics, Edgar said that retailers have to be careful about what they do with the information.
He said: “You have to respond to customer needs but don’t do it as a knee-jerk reaction to data. Sometimes it’s a retailer’s job to tell the customer what they want and that’s about the skill of the buy – take the customer on the journey with you so they buy into it.”