Retailers will need to adopt new technology in the next three years to evolve and stay competitive.
Retailers today are experiencing a gap in where they are and where they want to be. Despite wanting to provide great experiences to their customers, many bricks-and-mortar retailers are slow to adopt the technology that will help them deliver on customer demands.
In Riverbed’s Retail Digital Transformation Survey, 97% of IT decision makers in the retail sector said that cloud-based solutions are critical to transforming the digital retail experience and Australian retailers are embracing a new sense of urgency to evolve.
For retailers to thrive in a digital world, they need to leverage new cloud-based technologies to deliver superior customer experiences. Handling the complexities that come with this evolution depend entirely on next-generation networking and a modern IT infrastructure to future-proof their physical store presence and digital capabilities.
Filling the gap
Even though there is recognition that retail applications that support in-store staff are of the utmost importance, less than half of retail respondents are confident their companies currently have applications in place.
Further, 65% of retailer decision makers do not have mobile point of sale (POS) technology in place for staff to process customer transactions, making the payment process a severe pain point.
For customer-facing technologies, this gap is even more pronounced where virtual assistants are lacking in 78% of retailers and 65% don’t offer push notifications to notify customers of recommendations or sales while they’re in-store.
These findings show that retailers have an incredible amount of ground to make up in a short amount of time if they are to keep up with rapidly changing customer demands.
Wi-Fi is key
When looking to bricks-and-mortar stores, Wi-Fi connectivity is another critical technology to implement if retailers are looking to provide better customer experiences. Both employees and customers rely on connectivity for a seamless shopping experience.
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 online and mobile shopping tools.
While most Australian retailers are offering in-store Wi-Fi, most report that it often provides a less-than ideal experience for their customers. When asked to describe the quality and speed of in-store Wi-Fi, more than half (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 2019, retailers will need to rethink their Wi-Fi deployment and monitoring strategy in order to fully transform their business.
Maximising customer experience
Many traditional retailers are taking an omni-channel approach to improve the customer experience — embracing online channels while maximising bricks-and-mortar sales.
According to the Riverbed Retail Digital Transformation Survey, strategies for improving the customer experience are two-fold: quickly deploying new innovations and applications (49%) and providing a seamless online-to-in-store experience (46%).
There is general agreement on how bricks-and-mortar stores will support this push to improve the customer shopping experience by being more flexible and agile. Most retailers agree that monitoring and adapting in real-time to shopping behaviors will be critical in continuing to gain market share and ‘wow’ customers as they interact with their brand. Additionally, gathering insights on customers’ experiences and satisfaction through adoption rates or in-store response times will remain at the forefront of driving impactful marketing strategies.
Retailers know that next generation technology will help them optimise their online and in-store channels, enabling them to be more competitive and drive stronger revenue. With the right technology strategy in place, every retailer can enable a seamless experience for customers while reducing capital and operational costs – a win-win for all.
Keith Buckley is VP of Riverbed Technology ANZ. Riverbed enables organisations to modernise their networks and applications with industry-leading SD-WAN, application acceleration, and performance management solutions. Learn more at riverbed.com