Official figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that one in every five pounds was spent online in November as shoppers buying habits continue to shift. Today, price, product and an “I want it now” mentality governs consumer’s purchasing behaviour.

Retailers have recognised this trend and tried to embrace change with an omni-channel strategy. However, as we’ve seen over the last year, this is more of a “me too” statement than a real business imperative. A quick look at the budgets that are set aside to refit older stores or open new ones versus the investment in digital strategies serves to highlight the disconnect that exists. However, in 2016, the strategy and investment for digital needs to be significantly ramped up.

Rather than the stringent brand loyalty we have seen in the past, those retailers who've worked out how bricks and clicks come together, will be the winners. This won’t be achieved through the same thinking as the past but through a new vision where IT is a service broker for the business and able to run multiple projects simultaneously and with extremely fast delivery.

However, whilst it has long been recognised that data sits at the heart of every retailer, the major bottleneck to speeding up the development process is getting the right data into the right hands and at the right time. This means that projects can’t be worked on in parallel, with development infrastructures shared between large teams both inside and outside the company, killing productivity.

With such complexity and constraints, retailers need to take a data first approach to their IT transformation. By centralising the data in non-production environments, it can be offered on-demand via a self-service portal or through automation tools. This means retailers can make unlimited, near-live virtual copies of data to speed up the development process and embrace IT methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery that increase the efficiency of software development.

In 2015, we’ve already seen more agile and disruptive vendors, like Grabble and Lyst, emerge that are successfully competing against the high-street goliaths. To stay one step ahead over the next year, it will become even more obvious that those retailers that lead with IT to create secure and agile experiences will be successful at competing and innovating in a digital age.

By Jes Breslaw, director of strategy EMEA at Delphix