A new analysis by Signifyd, a leading provider of digital commerce protection, says that agility is more important than ever for retailers trying to navigate the today’s challenging business environment.

In its State of Commerce Report 2021, the company points out that the retail industry was already facing difficult conditions at the start of 2020. “Shopping malls had experienced a decrease in traffic around the country, which reflected a growing consumer preference for online shopping,” said Signifyd. “Major brands had scaled back their brick-and-mortar footprints or went out of business altogether as e-commerce competitors tightened margins. Then came the pandemic, which abruptly halted tried-and-true product delivery methods and forced companies to develop new ones on the fly.”

Signifyd predicts that more big moves are on the horizon, citing data from two major consulting firms. More than 90 percent of executives across industries expect fundamental changes in how they do business over the next five years, according to McKinsey & Co. And in its 2021 retail industry outlook, Deloitte reported that it anticipates retailers will explore new revenue models, form partnerships and make investments in technology and supply chain as they address inefficiencies exposed by the pandemic. While “cost reductions are a good start, they don’t represent a transformation from the old retail model,” the Deloitte report states. “New rules of profitability will likely require fresh ideas.”

Signifyd pointed out that with retailers testing new business models and likely to be entering a period of widespread mergers and acquisitions, their finance teams are uniquely positioned to drive forward-thinking change. They can ensure retailers are agile by shifting away from legacy back-office systems that slow down integration or impede omnichannel strategy, the company said.

“Agility has never proved more vital for retailers today as they respond to, and try to get ahead of, the significant disruptions we are currently confronting,” said Mario Vollbracht, global senior director of consumer markets at Oracle.

Signifyd noted, “As the future of retail begins to take shape, the companies that succeed will be the ones that break down barriers across business functions and embrace systems that make them agile and ready to innovate.”

Consumers are driving demand for new retail models and experiences. Signifyd cited a McKinsey report that found that during the pandemic, 75 percent of consumers tried a new shopping behavior, and many of those behaviors are likely to remain after the pandemic ends. “Consumers were already becoming accustomed to online shopping before 2020, and they were increasingly demonstrating a preference for fast delivery of goods and low prices over brand loyalty,” the company said.