Canadian Tire is Redefining Digital Retail

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Canadian Tire is Redefining Digital Retail

By Tim Denman - 04/04/2016
Canadian Tire’s image makeover is complete. The retailer has fully embraced the new digital reality, and is not just surviving in the space, but setting the innovation pace with digital deployment after digital deployment all designed with the consumer in mind.

At RetailTechCon 2016, Eugene Roman, SVP and CTO, Canadian Tire delivered the keynote address and discussed the new retail experience. He outlined how the retailer is redefining the customer journey with a commitment to R&D and digital advancement and is infusing its stores with a host of next-generation tech designed to not only connect with shoppers but close the sale.

“Shopping is not enough, it is the buyers that matter, you need to convert,” he said. Turning browsers into buyers is no easy feat but “our job is to deliver the ultimate shopping experience. We are a 90-year-old company and if we can do it, anyone can do it.”

What Canadian Tire has done is created a digitally empowered shopping journey that Roman describes as not being “omnichannel,” but rather “omni-retail.” A journey that engages shoppers in-store and out via digital devices, connecting with them throughout their pre-shopping, shopping, and post-shopping journey.

"The new retail experience is about being predictive, personal and memorable," he says. "Digital today is the most powerful disruption to hit this industry in 50 years. Customers pre shop before entering the store and walk into the store and with more knowledge about the products then the people selling them."

In order to compete and win the hearts and wallets of these ultra-informed shoppers, Canadian Tire is focused on crafting a holistic shopping experience, and engaging with consumers from start to finish. To develop this new retail reality Canadian Tire relies on 1,700 technologists working in four countries and two continents to push the innovation envelope and design the experience-defining technology shoppers now find in-store.

The typical Canadian Tire digital store features 1,200 digital screens, 2,200 videos, 1,650 hours of playing time, and 20 to 35 kilometers of cable running through the walls and ceilings to make it all possible. A stroll through one of Canadian Tire's new-age stores reveals numerous fun, interactive deployments like its golf simulators and hockey stick selector applications that simultaneously entertain and inform.

One of the biggest investments the brand has made in its in-store experience is its new POS systems. The retailer rebuilt the point of sale in 800 of its stores using low cost hardware and an Android/Java backbone. "We didn’t buy the system, we built it," Roman said. "We tried to buy it, but we couldn't find what we needed in the marketplace. We spent over 150,000 engineering hours designing the new system."
Canadian Tire is not afraid to put its money where its mouth is. It has been open about what digital retail can, and will become, and is investing heavily to make sure it remains relevant in an increasingly digital marketplace. One of its biggest competitors is Amazon, which took a 30% bite out of North American Black Friday sales. Rather than cower in the shadow of the online giant Canadian Tire is throwing down the gauntlet. "Amazon's search bot is great," Roman said. "But we are going to have a better one."