Are startups "disrupting" the world of retail with a data strategy?

For more than 10 years, the turnover of e-commerce in France has almost doubled, exceeding the 65 billions of €* today. While in 2010 the on-line purchase via mobile represented next to nothing, it exceeds by 10 % now*. Thus, technological breakthroughs have transformed the business and have engendered stronger expectations on the side of the consumer. Today, the customer journey marries the physical world with the digital world at the same time. All the actors of this new ecosystem have to rethink their own business model to search for growth and innovation by becoming allied in particular (or not), to the unstable and radical evolution of the start-up world. This world knows how to find its place with an ambition of ” disrupting ” the retail market and inventing the retail practices of tomorrow. According to the Financial Time and its ranking called FT 1000 (for the European fastest growing companies), France is the first in Europe to accommodate so many high-growth companies in the sector of  technology. It also has, according to a study of EY (Ernst and Young), allowed to raise more than 2 billion of funds in venture capital for French start-ups in 2016.

Indeed, French start-ups know how to develop solutions to optimize customer experience and extend it internationally. We find them in all areas, such as simplified systems of payment (using QR codes, NFC, social networks, wallet),  delivery (click and collect), inventory management (robotics, drones), point of sale or the intelligent connected purchase (robotics still, bluetooth, Wi-Fi, li-fi, face recognition, voice recognition), and automation of the customer relationship (with Chatbots). These all have a common point: data. Without data, the optimization and the development of their commercial growth is not possible. That is why data is central to the strategy of not only retail tech actors, but all retail actors at large.

In this digital revolution, France has understood the opportunities in data – that is why the country is in the 10th position worldwide in terms of opening  data to the public*. Beyond the customer journey, the data science revolutionizes business models, transforms organization and culture in companies, and  especially profoundly helps the economic players to set better prices and position their brands accordingly. This helps their commercial teams sell more durably, improve the working environment, meet the expectations of eco-responsibility, all the while, improving their margins and their turnover.

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Data analysis is a major tool. Beyond its exponential potential in front of digital transformation, it’s modifying durably the customer experience and is based on the principles of sharing data and transparency. By discovering the preferences of their customers, the world of retail has a bright future and start-ups have understood this well.


When we speak about data strategy, the actors of the retail, as well as the start-ups of the retail tech, have to scrupulously respect the essential stages to ensure  their economic success and improve the customer experience. There is no miracle or turnkey solution; the strategy is specific to every company because each has its particularities and own environment.


The most important thing for each of the actors is to consider data as a priority axis of development for the future, as it needs time and resources for its simplification, as well as plenty of time to understand it in order to increase the durability and quality of their performance. At the same time, an appropriate technological infrastructure and its ecosystem will allow data scientists to work on proper exploitation of the data (collected, stored and secured) thanks to algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning.


There was a period when we set prices thanks to hypotheses of the market. This period is over. The profitability is damaged due to the lack of flexibility, of objectivity, of reactivity in front of an unstable and constantly changeable market. Now, it’s about exploitation of real time or live internal and external data to make the good decisions, anticipate, follow the evolution of purchasing behaviors and then master its prices, its margins, its management of the supply chain, its costs and its profitability.


Facing the fact that a consumer is driven by maximal reactivity and a fluid purchase experience, all the new technologies, as innovative as they are, will never succeed without a clear data strategy held by the highest decision-making chain of the company (whether it is a start-up or a traditional company).


Let’s meet on November 9th for the TOTEM Retail Tech event organized by Bpifrance Le Hub: Nathalie Depetro, Director of the MAPIC, will welcome 3 innovative start-ups Socloz, SmartPixels and as well as Unibail-Rodamco during one of the 10 round tables of the evening. Together they will exchange about the technologies that draw the retail place of tomorrow (IA, Machine Learning, augmented reality, etc.).



Edouard Detaille, MAPIC consulting expert @EDetaille




*Source: « les chiffres clés du numérique », 2016

About Author

Edouard Detaille is a chairman of a consulting company dedicated to company’s leaders. Specialised in marketing, communication and digital transformation, he also accompanies the leaders in business intelligence and in their strategy. With more than 15 years of work experience, he occupied several executive positions of big real estate international companies mainly in the sector of the commerce and for the greater part on the stock exchange market. Professor for more than 6 years in Master's degree at Kedge Business School, at the university of Aix-Marseille and director of memory reports.

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