As technology improves, it has an effect on the expectations of the average consumer. People see the latest technological marvels applied in other industries, and they expect retail to make the same innovations.
The modern consumer requires a system that provides an experience unique to his or her habits and lifestyle. This requires an IT infrastructure that caters for the latest applications while delivering a consistent experience across all devices. Data analytics and personalization are key to this - both in store and out of store – keeping track of one’s buying habits, and the learning from it. Having a system which automates the process directly into the support workflow in real time is the preferred option as it enhances the customer experience and drives operational efficiencies across the business.
Retailers are increasingly looking at a variety of ways in which to up the ante on their multichannel strategy. This is taking the form of interactive buying guides, ad targeting, promotions that are initiated via a chat app, product analytics, and more.
Trying to cater for all these customer demands can be resource intensive and costly. Retailers can often find themselves between a rock and a hard place; for many have scaled down the size of their stores, in response to the prevalence of online shopping. And yet, when consumers do bother to venture to a store, they expect to find every item in stock, regardless of the size of the store itself. This has prompted retailers to enact a system known as ‘endless aisle’, which marries online with offline, so that consumers can access a wider array of products from a physical store. This can serve to prevent disappointment in those who made the special effort to visit in person and typically comes in the form of ‘click and collect’ – the ability for customers to order online and collect from a store.
A recent study of IT Professionals working within the retail sector revealed that 97% identified IT as a vital strategic asset when it comes to branch retailing and multichannel. However, only 48% felt that they had the resources, support and infrastructure to provide a seamless multichannel customer experience.
The requirements for meeting the needs of the multichannel retail consumer can no longer be supported by old in-store IT solutions. Requirements have changed, and the IT solution has to change to support them and to ensure a frictionless transactional process.
Want to find out more about multichannel retail and the changing IT requirements? This guide to utilizing branch IT as a strategic asset is a must-read for any IT professionals responsible for managing IT within retail - whether that's on the high-street, online or within other multi-branch verticals.