Retail fulfills customer demand for flexibility in pandemic: Deutsche Telekom


More and more retailers are offering their customers tailored products and services. Data analytics makes this possible. The vast majority of German retailers (82 percent) are now using data-driven systems.

Digital checkouts, electronic price tags, smart shelves, and digital displays also contribute to digital progress. As a whole, the digitalization index increased by two points year-on-year to 54 out of a maximum 100 index points. This means that SME retailers are middle of the pack. These results are from the representative study by Deutsche Telekom, the “SME digitalization index 2020/2021”.

The coronavirus crisis has ensured that the sector wants to invest more heavily in e-commerce solutions in future. This is how 44 percent of retailers reacted quickly to contact restrictions, expanding their online presence and shops.

“The coronavirus crisis was like an accelerant for digitalization in many companies,” says Thomas Spreitzer, responsible for small and medium-sized enterprise sales, partner sales, and marketing at Telekom Deutschland. “Almost half of retailers expanded their online presence and online shops so they could react quickly to contact restrictions. Whoever doesn’t take action right now will get left behind. On the other hand, those who focus on a target-oriented digitalization will be well set up for the future.”

From digital checkout to virtual reality

This means that retailers need to put a greater focus on fulfilling consumers’ desire for greater flexibility when shopping. However, 19 percent of retailers are already responding to this trend with omnichannel solutions – and the number keeps rising. They offer products through their online shops, via a telephone hotline, or in stores. Digital checkout systems have already been established for this, with 50 percent of all SME retailers relying on them. Alongside accounting advantages and quicker service, retailers can also manage product categories, update their range, and reconcile product inventories. One in three companies offer their customers free Wi-Fi access. 20 percent employ digital displays or consultation terminals, 12 percent use electronic price tags. Just as many are experimenting with augmented and virtual reality solutions (AR/VR). These provide customers with detailed information such as technical specifications or information concerning the product’s area of cultivation or nutritional content.

Data analytics guarantees success

Retailers are relying on data to align product ranges and offers closely to customers’ requirements: 82 percent of retail companies regularly analyze business data, customer data as well as product and supplier data in order to optimize their portfolio and customer approach. Thanks to this, retail is – compared to other sectors (average of 76 percent) – one of the digitalization pioneers. Moreover, many retail companies are on social media in order to present their products and offers. A third of retailers analyze the data arising from this. 26 percent of trading companies which implement data analytics are taking advantage of their cross- and upselling potential.

The investment changes in the retail sector

Retail continues to focus on digitalization – despite coronavirus
The signs point to further digitalization in retail also in the future: 60 percent are convinced that plans to invest in future digitalization projects will not change, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. 22 percent of companies even want to ramp up investments in this regard. Just 17 percent of companies have to reduce their IT investments due to the coronavirus.

Free self-check

Analysts from techconsult surveyed more than 2,000 small- and medium-sized businesses for the study. The entire study and individual reports on sectors are available here for free: Companies can also check their digital status quo for themselves. The check is also free of charge, can be completed online, and takes just a few minutes. It also helps companies to see how they compare to others. The address is: