Changes in the retail landscape, driven in part by the mobile revolution and resulting changes in consumer shopping preferences, have revealed new opportunities for retailers. However, with many of the arising opportunities requiring significant investment in technology, the challenge for retailers is knowing which of these to invest in to secure future success.
Those technologies that will help retailers to meet current and future consumer trends and expectations can be classified according to two distinct groups, reflecting a phased approach to retail technology investment:
One: Those technological developments with a high relevance today and which will remain the focus of investment in the future. These include big data analytics (relating to both consumers and the supply chain) and mobile capabilities like shopping apps.
Two: Those technological innovations that have lower relevance today, but which are predicted to become the focus of future investment. It is by anticipating the most influential technologies of tomorrow that retailers can stay one step ahead of the competition. Examples of such technologies include check-out less stores, and virtual and augmented reality.
These were the findings of our Retail Trend Monitor 2017, a 51-country online survey of 346 retailers and industry experts. The study examines the technologies in which retailers should invest in the context of exploring those key retail trends that are having the most impact now and those that will have the greatest influence in the future.
According to the retailers who participated in our study, the convenience of the shopping experience (89%) is the leading driver of current retail developments but personalized marketing and the seamlessness of the cross-channel experience will gain in relevance.
While they anticipate mobile communication to be the top driver in the future owing to the growing popularity of shopping anytime and anywhere, they also expect convenience to remain a dominant force. Convenience underpins many of the other drivers of change and innovations in the retail space. Closely related to anything that makes consumers’ lives easier, the concept of convenience is however constantly evolving. Today, of course, it is closely associated with mobile retail. However, according to the retail experts who participated in our study, the future of convenience will be about retailers themselves providing greater transparency of information (e.g. price comparison/review websites and social media). What’s more, it will be about them offering a seamless shopping experience across channels, and personalized marketing information and offers.
Convenience and personalization will play a major role in shaping the future of retail. Achieving a more convenient and personalized shopping experience, one that meets consumers’ expectations, is dependent on choosing the right retail format and investing in the right technology. With the right intelligence, retailers have the opportunity to not only address but also exceed consumers’ expectations, thereby surprising and delighting them. Those retailers that achieve this will be the success stories of today and tomorrow.
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