Quick Take: Technology Platforms’ Status as “Digital Gatekeepers” Set to Fuel Further Retail-Tech Collaborations

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Key Points

More and more international retailers are collaborating with, or investing in, digital platform operators. We see these platform operators as “digital gatekeepers,” in that they hold the keys to growth for retailers in certain channels and markets.

  • Technology platforms hold the keys to two growth opportunities for retailers: the emerging retail channel of voice commerce and the retail markets of China and India.
  • These platforms act as intermediaries, disrupting the traditional retailer-consumer relationship.
  • Unlike legacy digital channels, the voice channel is created and curated by two tech giants, Amazon and Google. Retailers therefore face talking (literally) to their customers through one of these intermediaries.
  • In China, Alibaba Group and JD.com dominate e-commerce. Names such as Macy’s, Aldi and Costco have collaborated with Alibaba Group, while Walmart has recently expanded its strategic partnership with JD.com.
  • In India, marketplace sites are a dominant e-commerce format, as reflected by Walmart’s acquisition of a majority stake in the Flipkart marketplace site in May 2018.
  • The competitive advantages enjoyed by these platform operators look likely to fuel further collaboration with retailers in 2018 and into 2019.

More and more international retailers are collaborating with, or investing in, digital platform operators. We see these platform operators as “digital gatekeepers,” in that they hold the keys to growth for retailers in certain channels and markets.

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