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article imageRetail technology rejected in favour of face-to-face interactions

By James Walker     Feb 14, 2018 in Technology
New retail technologies aren't delivering the returns they claim, according to a survey of retailers investing in digitalisation. Many stores have observed disappointing results from their systems and are concerned they make it harder to engage customers.
Return to face-to-face interactions
The findings will be of alarm to vendors of retail technology. Retail tech is one of the most hyped forms of digital transformation, with stores set to use mobile devices and analytics to improve the customer experience. However, a study of retailers by Fujitsu, reported by Computer Weekly, found the claims made by retail tech providers aren't being borne out in real world usage.
Despite intending to provide a streamlined customer experience, 25% of retailers said technology is making engagement more difficult. They feel it's getting harder to connect with customers in face-to-face interactions. Although there's evidence that more consumers are warming up to personalised retail, the concept is still being rejected by regular store visitors sceptical of its benefits.
A quarter of retailers said they have not been impressed by the results of their technology deployments. In response, they're starting to look to other forms of transformation as a means to stay relevant. Unable to raise customer interest with technology, they're instead returning to traditional ways to increase store visits and improve the experience inside.
Winners and losers
The survey suggests retail tech isn't yet the productivity-boosting solution it's marketed as. However, Fujitsu also found evidence that retailers who get it right do obtain significant benefits. 40 percent of respondents said their use of emerging technologies has increased their growth. 35 percent have seen increased productivity as a result of their new deployments.
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The results suggest that the retail sector's suffering from the same key failings as other industries that are digitally transforming. There's a clear divide between the winners and losers, with unsuccessful projects often leading stores to question their investment. To effectively navigate digital transformation, retailers need to remain focused on a core strategy that's designed to improve agility and give customers what they want.
Retailers should begin experimenting with in-demand technologies such as augmented reality, chatbots and proactive in-store assistance to cater to the demands of mobile users. Adoption plans should be aligned with the rest of the business though, which may include provisions to replace legacy technologies that restrict transformation opportunities. Fujitsu's study implies successful digitalisation is possible, if retailers rethink their current strategies.
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