Retail CIOs’ Plans for "Digitizing the Store"



The retail landscape of 2014 is more digital than ever before, and integrating store and online operations is a key focus for retailers as e-commerce capable solutions increasingly supplant traditional point-of-sale and mobile technologies.

According to a new study conducted by the NRF, Demandware and the University of Arizona that polled more than 200 U.S. and European retail business technology executives, more than one-third (35.8%) of retailers surveyed are considering a single platform to manage interactions and transactions across all channels.

“The future of retail will envelope business platforms that enhance the endless opportunities that new technologies offer, such as systems that allow retailers to provide seamless, relevant and personalized interactions for all of their customers,” said NRF Vice President of Retail Technologies Tom Litchford. “In this consumer-led industry, retailers are working overtime to keep up with the expectations and demands of their savvy customers, and are intent on integrating the digital shopping experience like never before.”

Specifically, a single platform would consolidate and manage key data elements and functionalities that historically have lived in multiple disparate systems to provide customers with consistent, on-brand shopping experiences no matter how or where they choose to interact with a retailer.  Differences between the current process of multiple systems and a single platform include:  

Customer expectations are driving retailers to carefully examine their technology spend and investments. Over the next three years, eight in 10 (80%) retailers surveyed expect to maintain or increase store technology investments, and seven in 10 (70%) say their organization is currently deploying or planning to refresh its existing software. Additionally, while traditional point-of-sale software has been a mainstay for physical stores for decades, many retailers recognize e-commerce software as an emerging and logical approach to evolve and establish the sought-after single platform. According to the survey, nearly four in 10 (38%) surveyed plan to leverage an e-commerce software platform for their next generation store software - that is two times the number that plan to use traditional point-of-sale software.

“It’s no surprise that retailers are increasingly looking to leverage e-commerce technology as the single platform for all commerce,” said Demandware Vice President of Industry Strategy and Insights Rob Garf. “This provides retailers a great opportunity to reduce costs, improve operational efficiencies, and enhance the overall customer shopping experience in a dynamic consumer environment.”

As retailers evaluate options for a single transaction platform in the constantly changing retail landscape, technology vendors must heed the top four priorities defined by retailers that information technology must enable: 1.) improving efficiency, 2.) attracting and retaining new customers, 3.) reducing costs, and 4.) increasing enterprise growth.

Multiple Systems

• Customer information managed in applications by channel
• Product images, attributes and data created managed in silos, often not available to store associates
• Inventory dedicated to specific channels with limited capabilities to fulfill orders from other channels
• Limited visibility from one channel to another during the order lifecycle
• Prices and promotions are specific to channel

Single Platform

• Single view of customer information would enable retailers to more effectively communicate with their   customers based on their preferences
• Commerce and content combined to streamline workflow and allow users to synchronize product data across digital channels with speed and accuracy
• Accurate inventory visibility in real time across multiple locations would enable key omnichannel    capabilities such as “buy online, pick up in store”
• Order status, history and details exposed to associates and customers from anywhere
• New prices and promotions are quickly configured for redemption based on channel, device or segment

Source: The National Retail Federation