Next three years vital for bricks-and-mortar evolution

Technology is driving change in the traditional retail space and is something we’ve embraced in our mission to become a leading, omnichannel fashion brand. And if a report by Riverbed Technology is anything to go by, we’re not the only retailer undergoing a sizeable shake-up.

The Riverbed Retail Digital Transformation Survey 2018 delves into the current landscape and outlines what physical retailers need to do to remain competitive, thrive and deliver exceptional customer experiences now and in the future.

Over 300 IT retail decision-makers from the US, Australia and Germany were polled for the study, with almost half believing that it will be crucial for their company to utilise new tools in the next three years to successfully evolve.

While UK IT leaders weren’t included in the study, we can assume their opinions would be similar.

Interestingly, almost all (98%) of the respondents said that cloud-based solutions will be vital in transforming the digital retail experience. The technology considered to be most important in this process was retail apps to track inventory (40%), followed by virtual assistants and digital personal shoppers (37%); mPOS technology (35%); and mobile apps with AR (34%).

While applications to track inventory were the top priority for IT leaders, 46% stated that their company is yet to adopt them.

Subbu Iyer, SVP and CMO of Riverbed Technology, recognised that cloud-based technology is pivotal in delivering an excellent customer experience and surviving. Handling the complexities that come with this evolution entirely [depends] on next-generation infrastructure and management technology to align their physical store presence and digital capabilities for success,” he noted.

Wi-Fi helps to unlock business value

The survey further revealed that introducing Wi-Fi within physical stores is key to deploying digital services and increasing profits. While employees rely on Wi-Fi to access files and apps to carry out their jobs, customers use it to access offers and internet/app shopping tools.

While 99% said that their company offers in-store Wi-Fi; 58% noted it was fast but not engaging and just 19% believed it was fast and engaged shoppers. Riverbed notes that Wi-Fi deployment and monitoring will need to be top of the agenda for retailers if they aim to fully transform their business.

Next generation technology

Next generation technology is enabling retailers to optimise their online and in-store channels and be more competitive. According to IT leaders, the most popular area of investment over the next year will be the ability to rapidly expand locations (51%); followed by improving the in-store Wi-Fi and mobile experience for employees and customers (49%); and utilising tools for more effective monitoring of customer apps (48%).

This report highlights how digital transformation is the top priority for retailers across the globe and we’re intrigued to see what 2018 holds for the industry. At River Island, we’ve moved all of our core services to the cloud and have rolled out inventory-tracking devices to hundreds of our stores. Now we’re looking for people with the skills and experience to help spearhead our digital transformation – if you think you meet that criteria, take a look at our current vacancies.


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