More than half (53%) of retailers will focus on using technology to improve the shopping experience in 2018. This top priority was identified in research commissioned by Zynstra, the software provider of intelligent edge infrastructure, purpose built for the retail store.
The focus on technology in the New Year is especially relevant given that currently only 27% of retailers feel their infrastructure is fully able to support these plans to improve customer experience in store. Only one-quarter of retailers said their in-store IT allowed them to frequently and regularly improve their in-store experience and one-fifth said they had to delay or reject a past roll out of new in-store applications because of IT limitations, costs or concerns.
Additional priorities for 2018 were identified as improving operational efficiencies (44%), enhancing security and compliance of in-store IT (42%), in-store innovation (34%), mitigating the risk of end-of-life technology (27%), and incorporating all channels of engagement in a single platform (17%).
"2018 is a crucial year in laying down the infrastructure that will reduce costs today and provide a long-term platform for a consistent and intentional customer experience. In the challenging retail conditions that are predicted, those who don't take this step are going to lose out," says Nick East, CEO, Zynstra.
"In today's retail environment, particularly those organisations with a distributed branch network, having the right technology in place to support both operations and overall customer experience is a key competitive advantage. Increasingly, we're finding the biggest impact on store cost and day to day operational efficiency improvements lie in implementing an intelligent edge infrastructure with end-to-end management and control."
In addition, the research uncovered that virtualisation of point of sale systems is playing an increasingly important role. Twenty-three percent of retailers said they were using it already, while 26% said they would adopt it as soon as possible, and 21% said they would do so in the next two years.
The research, conducted on behalf of Zynstra by independent survey specialist Censuswide, polled 308 retail IT decision makers in the US and UK. The aim of the research was to gauge the environment in which retailers operated, the challenges faced and the attitude toward the role of IT.