By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Report shows that retailers are pursuing convenient, safe, efficient technology to woo customers.
Roughly two-thirds of the 300 U.S. and U.S. retail IT managers and c-level professionals surveyed said that mobile payments technology tops their list of priorities, according to research from Zynstra, a U.K.-based enterprise-grade IT software provider. Mobile payments was followed by self-checkout capabilities (49 percent), and other efficiencies like scan-as-you-shop (44 percent) or click and collect (41 percent), with 37 percent reporting that in-store customer analytics were the chief priority.
The survey results make it clear that technology is an important priority, with 97 percent of respondents saying that technology needs make IT a strategic asset to their companies and 70 percent stating that IT could enable them to meet other future demands, including reducing operating costs, speeding up roll-out of new stores, supporting new business opportunities and streamlining IT management.
Yet, this sense of urgency regarding investment in IT comes even as many retailers are announcing job cuts and outsourcing of IT functions and projects, leading to a sense of disconnect between goals and realities in the sector. Walmart recently slashed 300 tech division jobs with cuts across the board as it reorganizes to create a better bottom line, as Innovative Retail Technologies reported. Thus, the fact that just 48 percent of those retail officials so excited about the value of IT said they had the proper resources, support and infrastructure to meet their current demands should come as no great surprise.
“In the retail branch (store) IT space, technology is playing an ever-more important role in helping businesses meet both current and future demand; not only from an operational point of view, but also in enhancing the customer experience,” said Nick East, CEO, Zynstra. “However, as the research points out, the application of this technology or the readiness to adopt it can be a challenge.”
“Retailers, particularly those with remote branches and offices, will always have issues related to budget, skills and IT infrastructure,” says Tim Peters, Vice President and General Manager, ProLiant Servers and SMB Solutions, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Importantly what the research shows is that retailers, with their unique technical requirements, are constantly striving for solutions that help them not only be more efficient today, but will help them meet the future demand and evolution of branch IT.”