Retail technology gets personal

Retail technology gets personal

A survey of leading retailers has found establishing personalized relationships with consumers is a priority when it comes to technology adoption, while Artificial Intelligence is considered the must-have emerging technology that most retailers intend to soon adopt.

Conducted by Total Retail, the 2020 Retail Technology Report takes a deep-dive into technology trends, buying behaviors, and future opportunities for retailers.

Here’s an insight into what their survey found…

Where most retailers employ tech

According to Total Retail’s survey of over 110 leading retailers, technology is a significant investment for most retailers, with inventory management, order fulfillment and personalised marketing among the sectors which currently command the greatest spend.

When it comes to where retailers currently direct their technology budget, the report found most retailers spent money on the following technology:

  • Inventory management software – 64 per cent
  • Order management system – 58 per cent
  • Order fulfillment software – 48 per cent
  • CRM platform – 45 per cent
  • Content management system – 39 per cent
  • Personalization – 37 per cent
  • Scheduling software – 33 per cent
  • Marketing automation – 30 per cent
  • Security/fraud prevention software – 28 per cent
  • ERP system – 26 per cent
  • Artificial intelligence, chatbots, and machine learning – 19 per cent each
  • Programmatic advertising – 18 per cent
  • Internet of Things – 17 per cent
  • Automated checkout/cashierless stores and RFID – 11 per cent each
  • Visual search – 10 per cent
  • 3D printing – 9 per cent
  • Beacons – 6 per cent
  • Robots, virtual reality, and voice (commerce and/or search) – 5 per cent each
  • Augmented reality – 4 per cent
  • Facial recognition – 2 per cent
  • Blockchain – 1 per cent
  • Drones – 0 per cent

“The technologies that retailers are currently using (and spending on) reflect the omnichannel nature of today’s retail businesses,” the report reflected.

“Systems that can help retailers track inventory and fulfill orders across multiple channels are becoming more critical as consumers engage with brands across a variety of touchpoints, often in a single purchase journey.”

Meanwhile, they note bricks and mortar often harnesses this technology to employ strategic tools like buy online pickup instore (BOPIS) in a bid to improve the customer experience and their omnichannel offering.

Future tech investment a priority

Over the coming months investment into retail technology will remain a priority for most retailers, the report found, with two thirds indicating they will increase their technology expenditure in the 12 months ahead.

Within these organisations, marketing departments are the most likely to see an increase in their technology budget, with a quarter of retailers directing extra funds there.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent of retailers will increase their spend on technology for digital, and 11 per cent will direct extra funds to product development.

Eight per cent of retailers will boost their technology spend on both customer service and the supply chain, seven per cent will increase spending on their omnichannel offering, six per cent will spend money on technology for merchandising, four per cent will increase tech spending in stores, and one per cent will increase their tech budget for human resources.

Tech gets personal

The biggest priority for stores adopting technology is establishing personal relationships with consumers.

In fact the top five areas where retailers are opting to increase their spend in the year ahead by and large relate to personalization.

“Leveraging data and technology to create one-to-one relationships with customers is a top priority for retailers,” the report stated.

“Nearly half of all respondents (48 per cent) identified marketing automation as a technology that they will be increasing spending on in the next 12 months, the top choice among a laundry list of other options.

“Furthermore, personalization technology (43 per cent) and CRM platforms (33 per cent) were also among the top five for spending increases, reflecting retailers desire to use data and tech to better engage with customers and prospects.”

 AI an emerging tech tool of choice

When it comes to emerging technology piquing retailer’s interest, artificial intelligence (AI) is by far the standout.

“Retailers have adopted, or are planning to adopt, artificial intelligence (AI) at a much higher rate than other emerging technologies,” the survey found.

“When asked to choose the emerging technologies that they’re not currently investing in but plan to do so within the next 12 months, 18 per cent of respondents selected AI, the highest of any technology listed.

“Furthermore, nearly one-third of respondents (32 percent) identified AI as the emerging technology that they believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry within the next 12 months.”

The full report is available at Total Retail.