According to a new survey of the Australian retail sector by Riverbed Technologies, 56% of IT professionals with retailers say technology adoption will be crucial to the success of their bricks and mortar businesses.
The survey also reveals that retailers today are experiencing a gap in where they want to be and where they currently are and, even though there is recognition that retail applications supporting in-store staff are of utmost importance, 42% claim their companies do not currently have applications in place.
And. 65% of retailer decision makers do not have mobile point of sale technology in place for staff to do customer transactions, which Riverbed says make the purchase process a severe pain point.
Riverbed warns that retailers have an incredible amount of ground to make up in a short amount of time in order to keep up with rapidly changing customer demands.
“With the ‘Amazon Effect’ taking hold closer to home, Australian retailers are embracing a new sense of urgency to evolve,” said Keith Buckley, vice-president of Riverbed Technology A/NZ.
“The survey echoes what we’re hearing from our retail customers: near-term IT investments that boost the in-store experience will be a key focus for year ahead, as will a continued shift to the cloud – but challenges in managing the complexities that come with this evolution remain. 60% of respondents cited ensuring tech works properly as a hurdle, signalling a need to evaluate the underlying systems driving it all.”
The Riverbed survey reveals that technologies that are deemed of highest importance for evolving the brick and mortar digital experience to meet future customer needs and demands include:
- Retail apps to track inventory (32%)
- Virtual assistants and digital personal shoppers (31%)
- Mobile point of sales technology (29%)
- Mobile apps with Augmented Reality (40%)
- Personalised in-store experiences based on customer loyalty data (27%)
- Push notifications while in-store (33%)
- On-demand in store video streaming (29%)
- 3D printing, such as to create products on-demand in the store (37%)
Riverbed says Wi-Fi connectivity within brick and mortar stores is critical to deploying digital services and boosting store profits.
Employees, no matter where they are in the store, rely on Wi-Fi to access key files and applications to get their jobs done. Customers use guest Wi-Fi to access marketing offers and online/app shopping tools, Riverbed reports.
“While all survey respondents report their company offers in-store Wi-Fi, it often provides a less than ideal experience for customers. When asked to describe the quality and speed of their in-store Wi-Fi, 61% note that it is fast but does not effectively engage the customer. Only 21% describe their Wi-Fi as both fast and effective at engaging customers. To stay competitive in 2018, retailers will need to rethink their Wi-Fi deployment and monitoring strategy in order to fully transform their business,” Riverbed suggests.
According to Riverbed, next generation technology will play a critical role in reaching 2018 goals.
Results from the study also reveal the impact next generation technology has on the success of in-store initiatives.
From networking to Wi-Fi to application monitoring, infrastructure and digital experience management technologies enable retailers to unlock the value of the digital age and execute their omnichannel approach, says Riverbed.
“Over the next 12 months, the areas where retailers plan to invest to support a digital transformation cover an impressive range of needs. The most common areas of investment will be:
- Ability to rapidly expand locations (51%);
- Improving the in-store Wi-Fi and mobile service experience for employees and customers (50%);
- Obtaining tools to better monitor customer apps, such as usage rates or user experience (42%);
- Ensuring point of sale connectivity and continuity in stores (49%);
- Delivering new digital services and applications for employees and customers (46%); and
- Enhancing productivity for enterprise mobility applications on and across devices (44%).