It will come as no surprise to learn that technology has been singled out as a main driver of the retail industry, both now and over the next ten years. This is according to the World Economic Forum and Accenture report called Shaping The Future of Retail for Consumer Industries.
It’s consumers who are helping to drive the role of technology in the future retail landscape.
As more technology becomes available, they are becoming accustomed to, and demand, a rapid and seamless service. In fact, many consumers now have better technology than the retailers themselves – consider the capability of an iPhone compared with a POS device for example! This leaves retailers struggling to keep up with reality, expectations and capital investments.
The rapid race for technological advancements has meant that the boundaries between online and offline have blurred. This also follows on from the idea that “shopping is no longer a 9-5 activity, but something that is always on”, with current technology creating multiple shopping channels for consumers.
Brands must ensure they are delivering on-brand messaging across all touchpoints their customer may come across during the course of their journey towards a purchase. It is increasingly likely that a customer or prospective customer sees an advert in a newspaper on their way to work, then browses the website on their smartphone for special offers and coupons etc and later orders online from their desktop computer for instore collection. Consider the stats: 41% of all online purchases start on one device and finish on another, and 84% of smartphone users use their phone in store.
This means that messaging and experience must be consistent across all possible touchpoints until the final act of purchase. Brands and retailers need to offer a seamless service to tap into consumers’ desires and expectations. However, there are some challenges.
Investment in technology could be costly and businesses will have to weigh up the initial outlay versus the long-term business benefit. Businesses will need to assess the real impact certain forms of technology will bring as many would be understandably unwilling to invest in a format that could be quickly superseded. Investment, both time and money, will also need to be made into training staff to use new tools and systems.