Executive summary

The $15T global retail industry has been rocked with significant waves over the past decade, but the most recent disruption and global health crisis, COVID-19, has caused the biggest shock of all. Within several months, the global pandemic not only amplified differences between retail leaders and laggards, but seriously condensed the timeline available to play ‘catch up’ in digital transformation and e-commerce. 
As the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 reshape the retail landscape, hundreds of operational decisions will need to be made even more rapidly across the value chain, and retailers will have to take advantage of new tools and business models to become ever more efficient and less exposed to future shock. In other words, the next ‘normal’ in retail will undoubtedly be digital, and it will increasingly be shaped by adoption of the best tools for such complex decisions: artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies (AI/ML). 

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