In an exclusive conversation with Retailer, Marco De Vries, CEO, Openbravo, shares the key technology trends that will shape the future of retail.
How is the Indian retail industry evolving in terms of technology adoption? What kind of solutions are in demand?
Technology is currently a very important growth driver for retailers. In today’s highly competitive landscape, it enables them to optimise their operations and to develop key differentiators for competitiveness that help create new growth opportunities.
Within the organised retail market, we clearly see that cross-channel strategies are a top priority. The most demanding business areas from a technological perspective are sales and marketing, operations or even financials. Although there are some differences between different retailer groups in general, we see a clear priority in the adoption of new store systems, new business intelligence tools, fully embedded in their core systems and a progressive integration of the online channel.
Besides, mobility is one of the key technologies that is rapidly gaining ground and may become dominant sooner.
How can retailers overcome channel conflicts while serving customers?
Channel conflicts in today’s omni-channel reality are mainly due to inconsistent or incomplete information provided through each channel. A typical scenario is when a product runs out of stock in a store and the customer wants to know whether this product is available in another store.
To resolve this type of problems, retailers need a platform to centrally manage and distribute all kinds of product information. In this way the retailer ensures that the same information is available across channels in a consistent and timely manner. Information from sales in all channels must also be integrated in a single repository, so that retailer can base its business decisions on the right information.
How can retailers maximise the investment already made in IT?
Retailers need to adopt new technologies that allow them to leverage prior IT investments. This basically means platforms that provide maximum flexibility in terms of possible adoption scenarios and are highly interoperable to seamlessly integrate with external legacy systems.
What are some of the upcoming trends that will shape the future of retail?
A recent study conducted by Openbravo revealed the main IT systems priorities for retailers today. The study confirms that in retail physical stores will continue to be the main driver of sales in the coming years and this has an enormous influence over the retailers’ IT decisions. For example, in India it is projected that 98 per cent of total retail sales will still be generated in traditional physical stores by 2018.
The second main conclusion is a positive trend change in regards to IT investment. Retailers in leading markets plan to increase their IT budgets both at the corporate and store level. We expect this trend to be observed in many other markets as well.
Besides, mobility, cloud and cross-channel are clearly identified as three of the top IT priorities from a global perspective. Cross-channel in particular demands new systems that provide a seamless shopping experience and actionable insights across all channels. This results in a higher adoption of mobile POS systems in the physical stores and the need of better analytics capabilities. Lack of proper analytics is considered by 71 per cent of retailers as one of the main reasons of a low cross-channel adoption.
Our reaction in front of these conclusions can’t be more positive especially thinking on the confirmation of the continued importance of physical stores. The fact that this reality is even more apparent in markets like India also allows us to see the future with more optimism since it is already one of our key target geographies.