E-commerce is now the shopping channel of choice for a greater number of consumers than ever before. Companies are enjoying record-high revenues through digital platforms, and the ubiquitousness of smartphones means that purchases can be made instantaneously from nearly any location. The retail sector and the consumer product market are rethinking their strategies in light of this trend, which has led to an increased operational emphasis on technology, accompanied by a shift in procurement needs.
Will the storefront of the future be fully digital?
A growing number of retail outlets are considering reshaping their brick-and-mortar shopping channels and allowing commerce to take place entirely online. A study by the National Retail Federation, in conjunction with Demandware and the University of Arizona, found that in the United States and Europe, nearly 36 percent of chief information officers at companies in this sector are thinking about moving all transactions to a single, unified platform.
That doesn't mean retailers are thinking of abandoning their physical operations altogether. Rather, a single-platform approach would mean bringing e-commerce technology into the brick-and-mortar storefront, the NRF noted. Tom Litchford, the organization's vice president of retail technologies pointed out that consolidating purchase data within a single channel would "enhance the endless opportunities that new technologies offer" and "allow retailers to provide seamless, relevant and personalized interactions for all of their customers."
Clearly, the benefits of such a strategy are considerable, and unifying transactions stands to boost enterprise agility considerably.
"It's no surprise that retailers are increasingly looking to leverage e-commerce technology as the single platform for all commerce," remarked Rob Garf, vice president of industry strategy and insights for Demandware, according to the release from the NRF. "This provides retailers a great opportunity to reduce costs, improve operational efficiencies and enhance the overall customer shopping experience in a dynamic consumer environment."
Retail IT teams need more tech resources
But in order reap the advantages that Garf outlined, investments in software, hardware and other technological tools will be necessary. The NRF found that 80 percent of retail CIOs plan to increase spending on in-store technology over the next three years.
As such, companies that are planning to unify commerce need to develop well-planned IT procurement strategies. Even if the firm plans to leverage the benefits in cost reduction and minimized physical infrastructure that cloud computing offers, a fully remote data storage system may not be viable. Especially for large-scale operations with vast amounts of sensitive, personally identifiable customer data, it may be necessary to keep some resources on-site - and this will require additional hardware.