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The future of IT in Retail: Where data, devices and retail strategy meet

By Partner


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Technology is now an important part of retail business. Tapping into retail analytics data is key to ensure success. The key here is how. The Internet of things has an important contribution to make to the store of the future once retailers find suitable business cases.

In the new generation of stores now emerging, retailers are increasingly depending on technology to bring their vision to life, a vision based on enabling their customers to build immersive, rewarding, multimedia experiences that will almost certainly have begun before they visit the store. In fact, according to Salesforce, ‘Aligning online and offline is now more important than ever as consumers navigate an average of 7.6 touchpoints for any given shopping journey.’

The stakes are high – how to deploy technology that the customer expects to use, while enabling the retailer to understand how these customers are behaving at every stage in their in-store journey and beyond. Only by having insight into these behaviours can retailers compete with both their store and on line competitors and also generate a return on investment (ROI).

As a result, retailers are investing in omnichannel retail models and the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology to create physical stores that are more dynamic, and rich in personalised experiences, but at the same time, attractive, comfortable and safe places for customers to be immersed in the brand and the product.

The physical assets now include a new generation of in-store Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) hardware, Wi-Fi sensors, smart mirrors, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) readers and network enabled devices. However, the return on investment in these technologies depends on how they are deployed within a strategy built on data and insight. Connected devices succeed only when they unify consumers with brands and products in ways that are relevant and profitable to the business.

Collaboration across departments and onto the shop floor is key to adoption. As stores are updated and new digital tools are used in the day-to-day activities of store staff and their shoppers, buy in is required from the workforce to ensure ROI is delivered according to initial plans. And they must be supported by data, based on a single view of customers, stock and orders, data which can now deliver much greater value backed by Artificial Intelligence tools to surface the relevant data – such as customer behaviour or product information - and make this available to employees for everyday use.

However, real success depends on taking the time to identify business cases. 51% of retailers said they were not yet taking advantage of IoT technologies because they have not identified a business case to support specific use-cases (RSR Research 2019). The first step must therefore be to find these compelling use cases, using a stepped approach: Collaborate across key departments; Measure success; Use data to build a single view of customers, orders and stock; Select innovations that fit your customer needs; Rethink connectivity to support your retail intelligence; Build forecasts that take both prescriptive and predictive into account; Map and evaluate customer journeys; and, Ensure all tech contributes value to the data model.

Read the report to learn in detail about the steps of building a business case for in-store technology and dive into the future of retail

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