UK consumers have demonstrated a clear appetite for technology and innovation to become a part of their retail customer experience. Many retailers have been concerned about how customers might take to the use of robots and automated machines in the shopping experience. However, it would appear that customers are ready and willing to embrace such futuristic technologies.
This lays the foundations for exciting opportunities for retailers. Despite these positive signs, many retail leaders remain disappointed with the return on investment they have achieved so far with technology. Some also believe that it has become more difficult to connect with customers in person.
Are UK retailers disillusioned with technology?
Of course, it is understandable that retailers are reticent about investing in technology if they have been disappointed with ROI. However, retailers must not be ignorant of the clear fact that technology will fundamentally change the retail business in the years to come. The retail landscape will change considerably over the next decade. The retailers that fail to adapt and evolve with technology run the risk of not surviving. Technology will force retailers to change their business models and the brands that are the most successful in the years ahead will be the brands that have a clear vision and digital strategy in place – with agility and adaptability being the watchwords.
Although it is apparent that a disconnect exists between retailers and technology, those that have fully embraced technological change are feeling positive about the results they have seen. Retailers have seen business growth overall, with improvements in operational efficiency and increased productivity identified as major benefits. Despite this, many retailers seem to be preoccupied with the disruption and competition within the sector instead of focussing their energy on to utilising technology to improve their overall offering and deploying technology to build stronger customer loyalty.
Technology in a Transforming Britain
The recent report published by Fujitsu, Technology in a Transforming Britain, revealed that only 50% of UK retailers have a digital strategy in place to implement technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Consumers are overwhelmingly positive about how AR and VR might be used in retail. However, over 70% of UK retail leaders admit that they have no plans to implement VR, or indeed any type of Artificial Intelligence, in the coming year. This seems strange, not least because of how much AII is currently being talked about – and the obvious consumer demand for it.
In conclusion, the retail sector appears to be at odds with consumers when it comes to how technology is perceived. It is the customers who seem prepared to welcome technological change with open arms, but retail leaders seem reluctant to embrace technological developments – despite the obvious need to do so.
Consumers believe that technology can bring about improvements to the convenience in the customer experience, as well as making it easier to access products and services. Retailers will need to catch up with their customers if they are to ensure they don’t lose them to their competitors.