If 25% of retailers that took part in a UK focused survey with Fujitsu expected more from technology investments; why does technology still represent the hallmark of progressive change in retail?

The answer is probably temporal. Short-term disruption to both customer relations and internal operations are the price that firms pay to establish long-term dynamic efficiencies.

A tech strategy for the future is exactly that, for the future! And the fact that many companies stated that had ‘no plans to deploy VR technology’ in the coming year, should indicate the telescopic length of planned approaches to diversification through technology-based offerings.

A further 22% of retailers questioned acknowledged the potential for technology to have a measurable positive impact on conversion, acquisition, and sales.

The positive impact is not instantaneous, and in recent discussion on The Social Geeks, we’ve highlighted the temporal extent of innovation. We target progressive technological change in business because we expect to reap, as yet, undefined rewards in the long-term. We hire for new-age positions, and we spend on non-immediate returns.

Further findings included the fact that 72% of retailers had not planned approach to using emergent artificial intelligence technology. Whilst this may seem unusual amidst the widespread recognition that AI stands to enhance retailer process across the board; it is not surprising that some firms are unwilling to forgo a credible business advantage in the short term, in favour of a vaguely defined advantage in the future. The credible advantage being powerful customer-facing mechanisms in client services, front-of-house personnel and real-time support.

We can expect immense changes in years to come, according to Firstmark Capital Director, Lawrence Lenihan, but we can also expect to see conservative moves in major sectors such as fashion and consumables as the tech matures.

VR, for example, is likely to be an indispensable part of the future of retail. With projects such as Buy+ highlighting the potential for long-term tech investment to transform commerce. The Virtual shopping experience attracted 30,000 people within an hour of launch and the platform grew to 8,000,000 users in the following week.

The pathways to converting such explosive acquisition into reliable customer relationships are not yet well understood though. And the Fujitsu survey perfectly reflects that.
A recent study by L.E.K Consulting found that 70% of smart-device toting consumers were strongly interested in virtual shopping. The immersive and cutting-edge channel is clearly a big draw, but is it worth the sometimes astronomical research and development bills?

The short-term disruption to customer communication that many companies stated was a blocker to satisfaction for tech investment spending is a direct result of the uncertainty that surrounds most innovation. The justification for spending must surely be that the best customer experiences are built around technology and premium services.

Modelling a skilled hire strategy around these changes is clearly prudent. Working with experienced recruitment experts, such as Rhembo Consultancy, is an obvious route into the digital trends towards omnichannel and other tech-driven retail changes.

Deepening digitisation of customer experiences are hurting the personable nature of many large UK retailers, and perhaps leading to a ‘faceless’ entity phenomenon in which companies are seen to be losing their human identities day by day. Synthesis is the key, and firms must aim to innovate technologically, hire responsibly and listen to customers about the indispensable parts of their existing models.

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