20 November 2020
Topics in this article
  • Agility
  • Retail
  • Risk & Resilience

With the upwards trajectory of demand for online shopping rising much more sharply than anticipated, retailers have felt a huge strain on their supply chains and have struggled to maneuver business operations quickly to keep up with changing consumer attitudes.

How can large retail corporations build a strong yet agile system that will ride the storm of further restrictions as a result of the pandemic, which are likely to continue to affect supply and demand?

Speed and agility are important in this new world and the most efficient way to make real change happen is to partner with the right people.

Instead of looking for solutions within their own corporate framework, a question all businesses must be asking themselves is, “who can I partner with to make this business work more efficiently?”

Collaboration is key and is a trend that is certainly here to stay. Increased agility and innovation stand out as to why businesses should prioritize the third-party supplier base, helping to aid recovery and become future-fit.


For most large businesses, the process of adapting a complex and cumbersome system at the pace needed to reflect ever-changing customer habits would be impossible. By building the right relationships with the right partners, retailers are able to access flexible, asset-light networks at their fingertips, as opposed to a “build-your-own” approach that may become outdated before it has legs.

In the midst of the pandemic, we witnessed Deliveroo become a key partner to a number of major retailers, including Morrisons and McColl’s, to respond to the surge in demand for click-and-collect and home delivery services.

We also saw retailers joining forces with supermarkets, including the likes of John Lewis and Co-op. The partnership enabled John Lewis to increase its customer reach through an extended network of services, whilst benefitting Co-op by bringing more footfall into stores.

Through collaboration with third parties, long-established retailers will be able to become nimble and respond to changing demand quickly and efficiently.


Collaboration not only speeds up the process of getting product where it needs to be, but it also enables retailers to enhance and challenge their current ways of working.

With an increasing demand for contactless experiences, the need for retailers to adopt innovative technologies at speed, such as contactless payment systems, is imperative.

As many retailers do not have large internal technical teams with this expertise, a strong third-party relationship will enable retailers to adapt technology quickly, boost cost efficiencies and stay ahead of competitors.

We’re seeing an increasing demand from big corporations who want to see new ideas from small disruptors, which will ultimately pave the way for better customer experiences.

The most ground-breaking of these is partnerships between traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and cutting edge technology players who are able to build virtual store experiences, harnessing AI to tailor and gamify experiences to customer’s preferences.

A notable example is when Kohl collaborated with Snapchat to build a virtual store environment which allowed customers to mix and match items and use a selfie lens to try on garments.

Levis has taken this a step further through its collaboration with Squad, a popular screen-sharing application, allowing friends to shop together by recreating the social experience of hitting the high street.

The importance of collaboration should not be overlooked, and the sooner retailers recognize this, the better they will be able to adapt and innovate.

Is your business agile enough to cope with significant shifts in customer demand? Do you have the right partners at your fingertips that will help you deliver the best experiences for your customers?

At Proxima, we have the expertise that will help your business be able to identify the right partners to elevate your business to be future-fit through collaboration.

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