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Retail Failing to Keep Pace With Tech Advances

Stores struggle to provide innovations shoppers want, study shows.

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Shoppers and store workers want tech to facilitate the buying process, but are often disappointed, a new survey has found. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Many retailers risk failing to meet shopper expectations in an increasingly tech-enabled world, a new study concludes. The report, by retail software provider Retail Systems Research (RSR) and titled “Why the Retail Store Won’t Survive as a ‘Tech-Free Zone’,” is based on a survey of more than 100 U.S.-based retailers and more than 1100 U.S. shoppers.

Some notable findings from that survey:

  • 36% of fashion and specialty retailers say their existing technology is not up to the challenge of today’s tech-savvy customers and employees.
  • While 69% of consumers surveyed indicated they like to browse stores, nearly 3 in 4 say the way they shop in stores has changed significantly in the past three years. 87% want the same access to product information in the store that they get in the digital world, and 70% like how retailers blend the online and store experiences together into a consistent shopping journey.
  • Buy-online-pickup-instore (BOPIS) has created all-new tasks for store personnel, which in turn has created the need to find operational efficiencies to maintain expense-to-sales ratios and per-order profitability. One-half of all retailers continue to struggle with the new functions that add to the cost-to-serve and require better trained and enabled employees.

Meeting all these customer and associate needs requires an infusion of information and technology, and its strategic application in stores is increasingly separating retail brand leaders from laggards.

“Shoppers are likely to encounter more tech-friendly options at their doctor’s office than they are at most retail stores, and these consumers are resolute in their message: they want the store experience to level up,” said Brian Kilcourse, Managing Partner at RSR. “Stores simply cannot continue to exist as ‘technology-free zones.’ Retailers must move now to harmonize the physical store with digital channels to enable access to inventory and customer information across the entire enterprise, and to offer the same level of digital content to consumers in the store as they have during digital shopping, while empowering store associates to be more efficient and able to deliver the type of experiences consumers desire.”

Click here for more from the study, which was sponsored by Jumpmind Inc.

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