2016 Market Update - Retail


Alex Bigland Industry & Commerce, Market Update, Business change...


If 2016 will go down as a year of seismic change, what’s on the cards for 2017? Despite the global political upsets, including a shock result in the Brexit referendum, the IT sector in Retail saw no significant downturn in projects and Venquis fully expects projects to remain in full flow in 2017.

Cost control & continuous learning

In 2016 we saw core IT major change projects undergo a degree of restructuring to temper spiralling costs and with 2017 expected to be an economically challenging year, we anticipate a close eye continuing to be kept on project costs this year too. In keeping with the theme of sensible housekeeping, we are also expecting more of a focus on the improvement of the structuring of change projects, with an emphasis being put on learning from past mistakes. In terms of the market this has elicited a demand for programme directors and managers and change leads who all have experience of shaping programmes.

Speed to market and customer journey key to success

Firms are taking on board what customers want and there will be a real focus on speed to market and developing a transparent customer journey. Projects like Argos’ 24 hour delivery and Amazon moving into grocery retail are just a sign of things to come. And of course, retailers will continue to invest heavily in order to develop more robust online capabilities, which creates a need for IT infrastructure to meet the demand that retailers anticipate and therefore a need for technological expertise.

Big data specialists in high demand

In addition, it’s highly likely that brands will be seeking out big data specialists. Markets continue to be more targeted and we live in an increasingly information led society. Ultimately, the retailers with the most accurate and most effectively cleansed data are likely to be the ones that succeed. Expect analytics to be key and those candidates with strong web/data analytic skills will be in high demand.

Article 50: impact

No projection for 2017 would be complete without a mention of Brexit and its impact. As no one really has any idea of how Brexit will play out, few retailers have committed to any concrete employment strategies, however there is a chance – if freedom of movement laws are impacted – that customer service workers could be in significant demand over the coming years. Leading fashion retailers have also revealed that they’re looking at wider international opportunities, rather than being solely dependent on Europe. The major threat in terms of IT is that London has developed into a tech hub in recent years and a hard Brexit could impact the experts that have been drawn from continental Europe. Having said that, London’s reputation and pull should remain strong for some time, even in the worst possible scenario, and it should continue to be able to attract the best talent from all over the world.


Overall 2017 looks set to be a busy and exciting year for Change and Transformation projects in the Retail industry. Our clients have hit the ground running and we’re looking forward to finding them the best talent in the marketplace to make those projects a success.