Adel Al-Saleh


Digitization of retail: Why focus is so important to me

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An article by Adel Al-Saleh, Member of the Board of Management Deutsche Telekom AG and CEO of T-Systems.

Adel Al-Saleh, Member of the Deutsche Telekom AG Board of Management and CEO T-Systems.

Adel Al-Saleh, Member of the Deutsche Telekom AG Board of Management and CEO T-Systems.

I'm happy to admit it: I enjoy shopping. Attractively presented goods inspire me – whether it's online or in store. I also appreciate the variety of channels available for shopping. 

The report from Comarch and Kantar about the most important trends in Retail today and in 2030 confirms my feelings: namely, that online retail will continue to grow strongly, but that bricks and mortar retailers will remain the most important contact point for consumers for the foreseeable future. That's good news. It's also a huge opportunity for local retailer stores in the age of digital transformation. It is the customer who is increasingly becoming the focus, together with his high expectations of over-the-counter retail transactions. This is well worth concentrating on because it is the decisive instance that will determine a large number of factors for retailers – as well as for us, as a partner to retail in the digitalization process. 

Smartphones have changed consumer behavior

But what is it that has actually caused such a change among customers? The answer is simple: nearly everyone owns a smartphone nowadays. Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important for researching products, prices, and reviews. Customers in the year 2020 are online – and increasingly influenced by other consumers' experiences. Today's shopping experience usually starts at home on the couch. Before we visit a store, we normally take a look around online shops. Then if we find something worthwhile, we pay a visit to a store. It's only there that we can handle the merchandise – try it on, try it out, experience it. When there we can get personal advice too.

Customers will only return if the shopping experience is right

Retailers know best how demanding their customers have become. "Customer experience" is the current buzzword. But what does it really mean? The answer is as simple as it is complex: it's about having truly satisfied customers along all the contact points in a retail transaction. In other words, all the business processes at headquarters, in stores, and in online shops, together with the logistics, must be connected and optimized to give customers a wonderful, one-of-a-kind shopping experience. As a consumer, I understand that entirely. If my shopping experience is right, but only if, I'll be happy to come back and shop there again. Be it online or at the store around the corner. Millions of customers share this opinion with me.  

As a consultant and partner to retailers in the age of digitalization, however, I know how much work and coordination goes on behind the scenes of this customer experience. We want to help retailers master these challenges.

Industry expertise is becoming more important for retailers

Retailers and wholesalers know best how their business works. They have tried-and-tested structures at headquarters, in their stores and online shops, and in their logistics. In turn, Deutsche Telekom has the expertise with digital technologies needed to support retailers in all matters of digitalization and help them improve their processes. We are prepared for the fact that digitization increasingly affects  the core business of our customers . They expect in depth know-how about their industry from us. That is why we work in competence teams with a clear industry focus. This also applies to the retail sector. After all, at the bottom line, what counts is giving our customers the best possible service.

EuroShop, the world's largest trade fair for retail investment requirements, starts February 16 in Düsseldorf. Deutsche Telekom will have a booth there. Under the motto "CX³ – Customer Experience", we and our partners SES-imagotag and Wirecard will be presenting digital solutions for retail, particularly connectivity, augmented reality (AR), and digital payment methods. Electronic price labels, IoT, cloud computing, and security will also be featured. We will be working together there to make digitalization an experience. For example, we will show how technological innovations can streamline communications at the point of sale in a live demonstration. Which brings us back full circle, to a great shopping experience for customers.

Adel Al-Saleh

Adel Al-Saleh

Member of the Board of Management Deutsche Telekom AG for T-Systems


Smart retail

Digitization will ensure the future success of retail.