Competitiveness of retail and wholesale in the digital age. Digital technology has driven a major change in the way people buy, but the way people buy has also transformed the way retail and wholesale do business.
Digitalisation is transforming the competitive landscape of our sector in many ways.
The distinction between online and offline, and between manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are becoming blurred. Digitalisation has brought about massive changes in supply chains, increasing transparency but also competitive pressure.
Platforms have created new business models
Data and the ability to use data gives a competitive edge and will increasingly do so. These were the topics discussed at the EuroCommerce roundtable Retail competitiveness in the age of digitalization, which took place during the European Business Summit.
EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said: “While most European retailers and wholesalers are still heavily dependent on their national markets, and few operate on a significant global scale, they face intense global pressures: online players from outside Europe are building up their market shares, with some direct imports operating outside many of the EU’s rules on product safety or taxation. Regulation should help the transition of the retail and wholesale sector, and seek to establish a level playing field among operators and channels of distribution. Equally, we need forward-looking policies to ensure Europe is able to embrace and maintain a leading role in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and blockchain, which will have a further impact on our sector.”
Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director General, DG Grow, European Commission, added: “Retail is one of the biggest sectors in the EU economy, generating 4.5% of EU value added, and providing 9% of all jobs. EU households spend up to one-third of their budgets in retail shops. Retail is also a major driver for innovation and productivity. Through its interactions with other economic sectors, a better performing retail sector can trigger positive spill-over effects for the entire economy. But the sector has been lagging behind in productivity in comparison with other business sectors. Digitalisation provides the opportunity for the sector to perform better. The Commission’s recent communication guides public authorities on how to increase innovation, productivity and competitiveness of the retail sector. This will allow European retailers to strengthen their global presence. The Guide the Commission published in parallel should help SMEs in their efforts to embrace digitalisation.”