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Retail Predictions of 2018

More than half of retailers (53%) will focus on using technology to improve the shopping experience in 2018. This priority isn’t surprising, given that our recent Retail IT : Insight Report also revealed that only 27% of retailers felt that they had the current infrastructure to fully support new in-store innovations and strategies. The reality is that many retailers are recognizing the need to find new IT infrastructure solutions, which can accommodate the latest tech trends. Some of the other top priorities for retailers in 2018 are outlined below.

Improve Operational Efficiencies

There is an increasing need to meet customer demands for new levels of convenience, multi-channel engagement and innovative experiences. Many existing store IT infrastructures are not flexible enough to meet these demands and when attempted create operational deficiencies. In our survey we therefore found 44% of retailers are seeking to implement operational efficiencies. Unless retailers adapt their existing in-store infrastructure they will be left behind.

Enhancing cybersecurity

42% of retailers in the US and UK stated that enhancing their security and compliance of in-store IT is a priority in 2018. This reflects the tightening of customer data regulations, the prevalence of ransomware attacks, and the increase in customer data breaches. 2017 saw many of the largest corporations affected by hackers, and so retailers want to go to greater lengths to ensure that their businesses are not compromized.

In-store innovation

The year 2017 saw the advent of mobile payments, drone deliveries, enhanced reality, and further developments in omni-channel retailing. These trends have ascended customer expectations significantly, which has put pressure on many retailers to catch up with those that are leading the way in innovation. However, this in turn puts pressure on the IT team and infrastructure of each retailer. Implementing the latest in-store applications is one thing, but maintaining them in an efficient manner is quite another. Therefore, over a third of the retailers we questioned were keen to ramp up in-store innovation this year.

Virtualization of POS

Retailers are realizing that virtualization of their POS devices is playing an increasingly key role. 23% of retailers said they were using it already, while 26% said they would adopt it as soon as possible, and 21% said they would do so in the next two years.

Conclusion

2017 was the year of dazzling new innovations; 2018 will likely be the year in which retailers bolster their back-office infrastructure in-store, to lay a long-term platform for testing and deploying new applications and services to deliver an operationally efficient end to end quality customer experience.  This also includes meeting the most cutting edge cyberthreats with cutting edge cybersecurity systems.

The research, conducted on behalf of Zynstra by independent survey specialist Censuswide, polled 308 retail IT decision makers in the US and UK. The aim of the research was to gauge the environment in which retailers operated, the challenges faced and the attitude toward the role of IT.

View the full findings of the research

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