Global retail technology spending will near $203.6 billion in 2019, according to new research conducted by Tech. a collaboration between Retail Week and World Retail Congress. The surge – an anticipated 3.6% leap from 2018 – comes as owners of physical stores strive to add an advanced digital dimension to offline shopping, among other priorities. The need to engage customers in new ways, while managing stock, operations and promotions more effectively and cost-efficiently, are also driving up international IT spending.
A new report, A world in motion: Retail digital transformation across the globe, and the technology supporting it, also identifies country-specific trends:
In France, 90% retailers say a new leadership mind-set is needed; half are deploying robotics; AI high on agenda.
In Germany, retailers have a more keenly developed understanding of how technology affects their business; 60% investing in voice technology.
In Russia, all retail leaders agreed digital transformation requires new leadership mindset. 3 out of 4 retailers admitted they don’t currently have people with all the right skills. 75% of leaders questioned currently use AI whilst none are using visual search.
In UK, a third of retailers expect to invest six-figure sums on technology over next 18 months; visual search tools are high on list to help shoppers find what they’re looking for more intuitively.
The pressures facing retailers in all of these mature Western markets are well documented. The continued rise and growing sophistication of e-commerce is forcing retailers to review costs and efficiency of operations and come up with new ways to add value for consumers, combining digital and physical experiences in new ways. Online retailers need to keep innovating too, to stay competitive and to keep customers coming back and spending more.
Plans for augmented or virtual reality tools to enhance shoppers’ experience are taking time to materialise, but there are retailers in the US and UK with comprehensive trials underway.
In France, Carrefour has sided with Google to drive innovation and build a tech-led strategy. The partnership involves comprehensive research and development work, the implementation of new Google communication and collaboration software as well as the creation of the Carrefour-Google innovation lab. There is also a focus on how voice-enabled technology will play a role in the future of retail.
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