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Exclusive Industry Event Confirms Top Retail Tech Trends

Business

Apr 7, 2022 - 3 minute read

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Miya Knights Consultant, Author and RetailTechnology.co.uk Publisher

Miya Knights has 25 years’ experience as an analyst, journalist and editor specialising in retail enterprise technology use. Based in Sussex, she is the owner and publisher of Retail Technology magazine and has co-authored two best-selling books about Amazon and omnichannel retail. She has appeared on the BBC, Channel 4 and Euronews and commented in The Telegraph, The Times and The Financial Times among others, as well as regularly speaking at or moderating industry events. She was also recently recognised as the 2021 Arts & Media Senior Leader by the Black British Business Awards.

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Exploring the Power of Digital and Data

Digital and data underpin key tech-enabled capabilities retailers must master to stay ahead of the pace of change.

Two major developments fuelling the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution emerged as the post-pandemic keys to retail success at a recent, exclusive industry event. These are: digitally-enabled connections with customers, and the data-driven insights that such connections can afford retailers about customers’ intent, expectations and preferences.

This was the consensus among a select group of retail leaders, experts and practitioners gathered by Objectivity at the British Retail Consortium new London offices at the end of March.

Following a presentation highlighting the findings of Objectivity’s most recent retail-focused report, Top 5 Retail Tech Trends for 2022 Staying Ahead of the Pace of Change, one comment that particularly resonated among all attendees was that: “It’s all about data.”

Another said the current drivers of change — changing consumer expectations; digital transformation; and, evolving business models and ecosystems — were the same now as they were 10 to 15 years ago. The major difference today is rapid e-commerce growth.

Sign of Our Times

The rise of online shifted focus to the role of the store, where another participant spoke from their past experience as a store-based fashion retailer’s chief information officer (CIO) of how far retailers had evolved their online-to-offline (O2O) retail execution over the last two years.

Moving beyond “just endless aisles,” customers today use mobile payments, apps, QR codes and more in-store. But others suggested more could be done with these touchpoints to engage customers and personalise their experiences by analysing the data they share.

This prompted a former convenience retail chain IT director to comment that they’ve observed retailers certainly trying to connect the data they hold on customers together better as a positive outcome from the pandemic.

Everyone agreed it was vital for retailers to use data more effectively to optimise every aspect of their operations and business. Understanding what customers are looking for facilitates strategic decision-making that can give them more of what they want.

This aspect of the discussion reinforced the fact that, using both customer and product data more effectively, can also deliver efficiencies when it comes to identifying a retailer’s best customers and finding more like them, as well as serving them better.

Data Analysis Driving Insight

One comment, that data management, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are vital in achieving these goals, confirmed another consensus view. The ability to derive insights at the speed and scale of tens of data scientists could, for example, assist those same experts in refining insight to help shape decisions that foster loyalty, frequency and higher sales.

Product information management (PIM) efforts came up as another technology example shared at the event of “using data to hold accountability”. In this case, data consistency and standardisation, and more board-level sponsorship were all cited as essential requirements.

The relationships between brands and retailers came under the spotlight as well, in terms of owning the customer relationship and monetising trends data, as well as audience access.

At the same time, data transparency and collaboration need to be prioritised, alongside the adoption of more sophisticated tracking technologies to orchestrate complex and volatile supply chains with better inventory planning and more accurately match supply to demand.

Rounding out the report’s top five trends, sustainability was seen as a gateway not only to the industry operating more responsibly, but to optimising retail businesses through data and digital transformation.

David Perks, Retail Services Director at Objectivity, stated: “It was heartening to learn how much our top five trends for 2022 — O2O retail data and automation; inventory planning; personalisation; convenience; and, sustainability – resonated with so many attendees.

“It validates our approach to empowering leading retailers with IT solutions that can help them manage complexity, while maximising differentiation, agility and profitability, now and into the future.”

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Miya Knights Consultant, Author and RetailTechnology.co.uk Publisher

Miya Knights has 25 years’ experience as an analyst, journalist and editor specialising in retail enterprise technology use. Based in Sussex, she is the owner and publisher of Retail Technology magazine and has co-authored two best-selling books about Amazon and omnichannel retail. She has appeared on the BBC, Channel 4 and Euronews and commented in The Telegraph, The Times and The Financial Times among others, as well as regularly speaking at or moderating industry events. She was also recently recognised as the 2021 Arts & Media Senior Leader by the Black British Business Awards.

See all Miya's posts

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