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Retail technology is in its most exciting phase in decades! The opportunity for retailers and brand companies to engage and access information about their markets and customers is astounding. And those who leverage these unique opportunities are becoming the most successful firms - whether retail, e-tail or brand companies who sell direct. Our research shows, however, that CIOs, merchants and supply chain managers in these sectors have a huge list of technology priorities to juggle.
Some of the key findings in our interviews and research in the retail sector are:
• E-commerce/Multichannel strategies - The growth of the e-commerce channel will exceed the overall growth in the retail industry. This means that more shoppers are turning to online channels, both web and mobile, and not just for convenience. The proliferation of incentives is drawing shoppers to these channels. And this presents a huge opportunity for direct customer engagement.
• Social Networking - This channel is used for promotions/coupons and direct engagement to understand customers, solve direct consumer problems, and market more effectively.
• Mobile Platforms - This will not just be about pay-and-go/self-checkout. It includes the entire shopper lifecycle: from interest, loyalty, and location-based services to entice shoppers into stores, to payment systems.
• Compliance - Retailers are continuing to push their suppliers in the areas of compliance and ensuring the "perfect order." This will continue the growth of EDI, managed file transfer (MFT), labeling, ticketing and auto/ID technologies.
• Logistics Optimization - Adeptness at inbound logistics to streamline receiving, carrier consolidation to save costs, and floor-ready merchandise to save time and cost in the store, all require improved logistics - both warehouse and transportation software - seamlessly coordinated between suppliers and retailers.
• Analytics - All these systems need to feed the total business view as retailers strive to find, target and sell to increase revenues and at the same time save money while doing it. Retailers, even category-specific ones, have tens of thousands of SKUs and need analytics systems to manage them in all phases of operation, from sourcing through sales and returns.
Many of the above projects will see rethinking and reinvestment as retailers juggle competing priorities. Yet there will still be plenty of business in the area of supply chain planning and execution to create more responsiveness in the channels. In-store investments, such as digital display, security systems, and POS investments will hold steady through the year.
2012 will show continued growth in technology spending as increased competition pushes retailers to invest in order to remain competitive. IT budgets will grow 3 percent to 6 percent from past 2011 levels. Cloud platforms, especially for social networks and supply chain networks, will see major adoption as enterprises see the benefits of trading partner and customer collaboration.
Keywords: Retail, CPG; Transportation & Distribution, Logistics; EDI Communication (XML/EDI), Business Intelligence & Analytics, Technology, Business Strategy Alignment, Global Supply Chain Management, ChainLink Research, e-commerce, Multichannel, POS
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