Cost Saver to Profit Maker: The Changing Role of Retail Technology

Retail adoption of customer oriented IT innovation is widespread and growing. By automating elements of retail business operations, retailers have become increasingly operationally efficient, providing customers with greater value than ever before.   This changing use of IT has been the focus of research by Retail Week and the E commerce Sumit to define what retailers are using technology for. Surmising the opinions of retail leaders, the research has shown a growth in business IT expenditure, with the need to develop omni-channel retail experiences sighted as a key influence. But how is this expenditure being attributed? Are retailers looking to spend money to make money, or investing in modern technology to drive efficiency and reduce business costs?

 

Retail adoption of customer oriented IT innovation is widespread and growing. By automating elements of retail business operations, retailers have become increasingly operationally efficient, providing customers with greater value than ever before.

This changing use of IT has been the focus of research by Retail Week and the E commerce Sumit to define what retailers are using technology for. Surmising the opinions of retail leaders, the research has shown a growth in business IT expenditure, with the need to develop omni-channel retail experiences sighted as a key influence. But how is this expenditure being attributed? Are retailers looking to spend money to make money, or investing in modern technology to drive efficiency and reduce business costs?

Where historically seen as a means of improving operational efficiency, it appears that retailers are increasingly using technology to expand the services they can offer customers, with 50% of IT influencers stating that they believe the shift from cost saver to profit maker has already happened; 30% believe that IT has a part to play in both reducing expenditure and generating new revenues.

 

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One thing agreed consistently is that shoppers are driving this change, as their use and demand for better online retail experiences ensures that businesses must invest in IT to maintain effective customer engagement. With this in mind, the IT department has a wider remit beyond being just the function that keeps retailers up and running, instead they have become pivotal as the driving force behind new business development.

With future retail trends pointing towards innovations such as iBeacon’s and wearable technology, the one thing that we can be sure of in retail is that this era of IT led prominence is not going away, and long may it continue.

 


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