A retail transformation is well underway, and it is being lead by retailers’ investments in technologies that improve the customer experience.
This was according to Ramping Up Retail Innovation,” a study from Retail Systems Research (RSR). The data revealed that retail winners believe customer-facing innovations are very important (93%), followed very closely (88%) by the value of automating operational processes will create the efficiencies needed in order to fund those customer innovations.
Similarly, both retail leaders and laggards agree on the importance of improving the customer experience (CX) — and using innovation to do so. For example, 71% of leaders are committed to providing a better customer experience, compared to 68% of all other retailers. Sixty-eight percent of leaders also believe they can use innovations to build lasting loyalty with our customers, and move them to become “advocates.” Only 47% of other retailers agree on the value of this option.
When considering the technologies that can achieve these goals, retailer are not looking for “shiny, new solutions.” Rather, they are opting for core solutions that will help then scale and grow their business in the long-term. For example, 93% of retail winners and 66% of other retailers are adopting cloud computing solutions to drive innovation.
While 71% of winners are implementing new core systems, only 40% of other retailer are following suit. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a priority for 68% of retail winners, but only 40% of all other retailers agree. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning also tops 63% of winners’ innovation lists, followed by 32% of all other retailers. And new user interfaces, such as voice recognition, are priorities for 61% of leading companies, but only 40% of other retailers.
Innovations including customer-facing robots still have a way to go as only half (56%) of leading companies call these priorities. They are only on the radar of 28% of other retailers. Despite the industry’s increasing interest in augmented and virtual reality, only 56% of leading retailers are adopting these solutions, followed by 23% of all other companies.
“When it comes to experimenting with new technologies, respondents indicate that what they are experimenting with aren’t necessarily the technologies that they assign the greatest value to,” the study revealed.
Retailers of all types may not be afraid to experiment, “but across the boards, they aren’t committing ‘real money’ to a full rollout,” the study added. “This could indicate that either it’s still early days for these technologies, or that retailers are succumbing to a traditional over- abundance of caution.