“Right now, conversations with retail CFOs on the topic of disruption are focused on agility and visibility. They want to see issues early. And they want the flexibility to change course quickly.”

Senior HSO retail technology consultant

A strategy for taking the long view
on business disruption

The rise of omnichannel, skyrocketing e-commerce, and increased customer personalisation are just a few trends reshaping and disrupting retail. In this era of rapid change, retail CFOs are often at the frontlines of these digital strategies. In fact, during the past five years, the number of finance leaders responsible for digital activities more
than tripled. 1

The stakes for these digital decisions couldn’t be higher. In an industry facing increased cost pressures from a myriad of directions, retailers that become digital leaders have a key advantage, generating as much as five per cent higher earnings than technology laggards. 2

In the midst of a highly volatile market, retail CFOs face a critical juncture. They need to make a few big-picture digital investments to reshape their organisations for the long term.
Almost two-thirds are investing in cloud technology and deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions. 3

HSO has seen the effect of these projects firsthand. Throughout the pandemic and beyond, we’ve worked with retail customers and their CFOs, helping them implement solutions using the lessons they’ve learned since 2020.

Their experiences have taught us that what’s needed most right now is a focus on visibility, agility, and speed in decision-making. In the coming years, HSO recommends retail CFOs set up their organisations to be data-driven, using these three concepts to evaluate their strategic digital investments. By doing so, they will position their organisations for success in a disruptive era.

1. McKinsey. “Mastering change: The new CFO mandate,” October 2021.

2. McKinsey. “Winning in an era of unprecedented disruption,” January 2019.3 CFO Indicator Study. “The CFOs guide to building a future-proof finance team,” September 2021.

3. CFO Indicator Study. “The CFOs guide to building a future-proof finance team,” September 2021.