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Finance Function Learning Retail Finance

Eat, Sleep, Innovate, Repeat – The Retail CFO

3 min read

Finance Leaders. The drivers behind your business. The innovators, the risk-takers, the data experts, the collaborators, the engagers and most importantly, the leaders.

This one is for you…

It is undeniable that the retail industry looks totally different than it did 5 years ago, and who here has bets on it looking totally different in another 5 years? From Supply Chain Innovation to the development of elaborate in-store experiences (such as virtual fitting rooms!), retailers are under mounting pressure to do the best and be the best.

So, let’s look at this more closely:

Evolving technologies makes it trickier to identify which investments will be valuable and able to endure the mercurial retail landscape. There are also the evolving trends of the consumer, and the need to understand exactly what it is your customer wants and how they want to get it. And not only that but there is now so much competition in the market that for your business to truly thrive, you need to know how to position yourself at the forefront of innovation and risk.

But the real question is how is all this possible? How do you continue to deliver profitable return on investment while still driving your organisation through the evolving retail sector?

Welcome to centre stage, the retail CFO…

Once constrictively labelled ‘financial gatekeeper’, the retail finance leader becomes a true strategist, creating value for business through alternative means. Still loyal to traditional financial upkeep of course; but now leading outside the finance unit and driving innovation and smart investments. As experts in data (arguably the new economic currency), CFO’s and financial executives are best placed to strategically identify where there is value, risk and opportunity in the market.

One of the trickier tasks of the Retail CFO is knowing which investments will be sustainable, but also how much to invest in. There is a fine line when identifying how to drive ROI, especially when the industry is evolving so rapidly. Invest in too much too quickly and your business can be blind-sighted to upcoming trends and industry disruptors. Invest too slowly and you might lose the competitive advantage.

This is where the CFO role expands, going beyond financial management to design innovative ways to harness skills, collaborations and technology to position organisations for growth.

More examples of how the financial leader’s role has expanded:
  1. Understanding there is higher risk that newer investments in technology may be replaced quicker and become ineffective or irrelevant
  2. Knowing how to continue to create value for money without discounting products or services to maintain the competitive advantage
  3. Establishing relevant financial check points to minimise risk that could negatively affect ROI
  4. Learning how to innovate customer service when competing with eCommerce giants – Learn how to create exceptional in-store experiences here
  5. Innovating investments in technology and digital solutions
  6. Prioritising the re-design of stores to maximise effective inventory management
  7. Objectively assessing solutions to low-performing stores vs online retail

And finally, as a strategic business partner not only does the Retail CFO need to develop effective relationships with the CEO and other C-Suite executives, but they also need to develop high-performing teams to manage the pressures of the evolving role. Despite technological disruption, people remain at the forefront of any business. Proactively managing and nurturing talent is the key to a successful and sustainable finance function.

So, the CFO becomes a powerful technological steward, a digital disruptor, an innovator, a collaborator and a strategic business driver. As a new retail era begins, CFO’s must be dynamic, growth-driven and drive retail into the future.

Let’s give a hand for the retail CFO!

But don’t just take our word for it! To hear more about how tech is disrupting retail, check out this interview with Global Ecommerce Manager, Brendan Gillen.


Do you have anything to add? We are always looking for writers and speakers! If you are a financial executive with something to say, get in touch:
02 7200 2170
04 78136731