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2016 Retail industry update, part 2

Investments in analytics, security and employee training


In Part 1 of our retail update, we discussed the current retail industry outlook, and steps transformative companies were making to ensure success. In Part 2, we’re delving deeper into some of these investments—specifically ones made in the business intelligence and data analytics sector in response to shopper demands for personalization, as well as the implications that recent technology innovation carries in terms of data security and ramped up employee training.  

Keeping it personal: Organically integrating technology and analytics 

Customers expect more from companies than a blanketed outreach aimed at mass appeal. They crave customization and convenience, preferring brands that offer experiences catered to their needs. One example is the recent upswing of digital payment capabilities, designed to allow shoppers the opportunity to pay from their mobile device.

While the technology alone is innovative, it’s not the primary factor drawing customers in—it’s how companies are leveraging it to boost the overall customer journey. 

Forrester Research recently found that 57 percent of U.S. online adult smartphone users are interested in having access to loyalty program points and rewards within a mobile wallet.2

Thus, it’s not enough to simply invest in the latest technology and expect shoppers to follow suit—such systems must be integrated into programs that improve the customer experience for each shopper, a feat that’s not without its challenges.

Finding out what makes a key audience happy, what grabs their attention, and what makes them tick requires robust business intelligence (BI) and data analytics tools designed to mine the myriad data gathered across the Internet of Things (IoT) and turn it into actionable insight. Yet, tracking interactions across the plethora of online channels and platforms, as well as in-store operations, can prove difficult. 

Securing the assets: Keeping data confidential, and employees up to speed

One factor keeping companies from fully developing their BI strategies is the complicated, yet essential, task of data management and security. In short, the more information retailers gather about individual shoppers, the greater their opportunity for personalization—and the greater the impetus to ensure their data is safeguarded against exposure and risk.

As such, executives are placing an added emphasis on security for this year and beyond. In a recent poll by Forrester Research and the National Retail Federation (NRF), 97 percent of retail CIOs placed managing data security at the top of their priority list for 2015.4

Similarly, companies are also making plans to improve employee training in data security measures, as well as in the use of disruptive technologies, to ensure customer satisfaction across every retail touchpoint. According to a recent RetailTouchPoints report, 44 percent of retailers said their store operations budget has increased in terms of employee training over the past year and 23 percent said training and retention were priorities in the near future, up from only 11 percent in 2014.5

Making the leap: Succeeding in retail now and in the future

As 2016 progresses, opportunity for retail success has never been greater. From new technologies that make the shopping experience more interactive and hands-on to innovations in mobile payments and BI analytics, brands—and the customers they serve—are smarter and more capable than ever before. However, it will be how retailers optimize these capabilities that will ultimately determine their roadmap for continued growth and sustainability.

  1. Husson, Thomas, et.al., “The Future Of Mobile Wallets Lies Beyond Payments,” Forrester, February 9, 2015, p.5.
  2. Allen, Kathy Grannis, “Data Security, Omnichannel Initiatives Top Retail CIOs’ Priority Lists,” National Retail Federation, February 19, 2015, p. 1.
  3. “The New Age of Store Operations,” RetailTouchPoints, p.3, 16.

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