In the 90s classic Clueless, Cher’s virtual program lets her try on outfits without lifting a finger, which seemed like an unachievable standard at the time.
It’s almost old news in terms of retail technology today.
From robots to the internet of things (IoT), we’ve seen huge disruption due to technological advancements. Robots take virtual and physical forms as chatbots and service robots. Artificial intelligence (AI) programs help consumers find exactly what they’re looking for. Omnichannel retailers allow consumers to research a product online before purchasing in store. Micro-positioning provides retailers with the opportunity to know when a specific customer is in the store, capturing more data and customer insights. It won’t stop here. Nearly 70 percent of retail executives plan to increase their investment in transforming their digital sales and fulfillment channels in the next year.
Innovate or bust
Despite the large number of retailers planning to increase their investment in technology, only 48 percent have defined or started to implement a digital transformation strategy. With all the latest technology at their disposal, retailers are expected to be masters of personalization, customization and convenience. Consumers want high quality, targeted products and they want them now. While the front-end technology has made a huge difference in consumer engagement, the backend where products are designed, discovered and developed has lagged.
The technological advances have not translated to the backend of the industry, and as result, retail professionals are stuck in the 90s with Cher, surrounded by complicated spreadsheets and endless email threads.
If the end goal is to create a seamless, targeted experience for the consumer, retailers should start by implementing technology on the backend that allows them to leverage industry knowledge from the very beginning of the design to production process. B2B marketplaces and new, more intelligent product lifecycle management platforms are on the rise for precisely this reason – they make possible on the backend what the trendier technology does for customers. Better technology on the backend will enable real collaboration, shortening the design to production process while providing targeted products a consumer actually wants before she even has the opportunity to engage with the tech on the frontend. There’s so much that goes into the product before items hit the shelves, and retailers should be making their own lives easier the same way they make the shopping process more fun and simple for customers.