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What’s top of the shopping list for retailers?

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The retail industry is a shop front for the digital revolution, with the ramifications of success and failure of even the most profitable retail businesses on display. Even household names aren’t safe; failing to overcome barriers and invest in relevant technology to connect with consumers can result in closure of stores nationwide.

Reluctance to commit to investment when large, expensive, enterprise scale IT systems were conceived in the 90s has left many retail businesses struggling to align a mass of siloed systems. Even in the modern age, many are failing to fully integrate their online and offline offerings into one seamless customer experience, instead almost acting as two separate businesses; one digital and the other physical.

Inevitably, it was the high purchase costs that put retailers off investing in the latest technology initially, along with long implementation times, demanding vendor contracts, and ongoing maintenance costs. However, retailers have started to embrace the digital age, with research showing they recognise the need to invest in new technology to ensure growth.

Our survey of 200 retail IT decision makers revealed 76 per cent plan to spend more this year on technology than they did over the previous 12 months. This is great news, as if money is spent wisely, today’s small retailers may soon become the next industry goliaths.

When asked what was on top of their shopping list for the next three years, the following were the retail industry’s priorities:

  • Cloud computing (56 per cent)
  • Wi-Fi (43 per cent)
  • Big analytics (38 per cent)

Unsurprisingly, retailers are looking to cloud computing to ease the strain of the integration process as this topped their investment shopping list. Interestingly, Wi-Fi was included as a high priority for investment, suggesting retailers are looking to transform their stores to create a multi-functioning retail environment for their consumers. This could allow consumer’s to experience the products in-store but then order them online where deals are often more enticing. This then enables retailers to gain valuable insight into the nature of their consumers shopping habits, which ties in with the third investment priority; big analytics. The data gathered ensures retailers can offer tailored deals to entice them to buy products they’ve recently browsed online. For example, analytics will give insight into the consumer location, peak shopping times and personal preferences. So if they are walking past a store with beacon technology, a personalised notification could be sent to their phone offering a one time deal on the products they’ve recently considered purchasing online.

It can of course be difficult for IT teams to implement new applications in time to address challenges due to the swiftness of the tech industry. Therefore, outsourcing IT management and support is becoming increasingly popular to ensure retailers are staying in touch with the customer expectations. After all, to fall behind is to accept failure and today’s consumer simply won’t put up with it.

It is no longer enough to rely on bricks and mortar- retailers must offer an omni-channel experience and invest in new technology to thrive and keep up with both consumer demand and the latest technology trends. Only by offering a bridge between the in-store and digital experience can a truly seamless retail experience be achieved and failure can be avoided.

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