Commerce in China is evolving from a “consumer dividend” economy to a “digital and intelligent innovation” economy, and the industrial ecosystem has been evolving from single-node costing and efficiency enhancement to full-scale reshaping and growth. Digital technologies have led to the full-link digital transformation of the commercial ecosystem, as represented by the shift from efficiency enhancement of one-way business flows to the value enhancement of full-link elements, from the retail Internet to the ecological Internet, and from digital transformation to digital and intelligent empowerment.
The Retailtech industry is following the same evolutionary path as Chinese commerce. The two have formed synergies and achieved mutual growth. Enterprises in the technological innovation and retail industries have worked hard to accumulate a wealth of technological applications and practical experience, and these companies can serve as role models for enterprises that are trying to build their own digital capabilities.
First, technological applications mostly focus on consumer interaction, marketing and transaction processes at the front end. Innovation in technological applications is inadequate in light of the vast potential for innovation at the supply chain end. Second, technological applications mainly focus on changing the business and operating models of retail enterprises, and the digital models for human resources and financial management have remained largely unchanged. Third, there has been significantly more application and business innovation than technological innovation. Fourth, technological applications mainly encourage customers to use products, but customers may actually desire stronger digital capabilities that integrate business optimisation, organisational change, ecological links and products. Fifth, while innovative enterprises are working hard to create differentiated solutions in the Retailtech sector, there are still many homogeneous solutions competing with each other.
In the face of digitalisation, the retail industry is innovating and reforming as consumers change their lifestyles. New retail technologies are becoming increasingly integrated into the retail industry as new consumption needs are explored and new operating models emerge. During this transformation, Retailtech enterprises, especially start-ups, have played an indispensable role, and they are upgrading themselves as they engage with their end-users. Many technology enterprises have evolved from software vendors that offered a single solution into business partners that work with their end-users to develop solutions that are tailored for specific scenarios. Other enterprises not only provide technical support for hardware and software, but also assist retail enterprises in integrating technological transformation at the IT level through internal reform and optimisation of organisational structures.