No-one could have predicted how fast the retail landscape would change over the past few years.
With the pandemic came a monumental shift towards e-commerce, alongside an intensified demand for services like home deliveries and in-store collections.
That trend is set to stay with consumers expecting their shopping experiences in store to be consistent with those online.
As the evolution of connecting online and physical experiences gathers pace, we wanted to discover what the omnichannel revolution means for retail operations.
In a 2022 primary research report, The Future of Store Operations, Scandit uncovered the omnichannel challenges facing EMEA retail. The report explored retail leaders’ opinions on the future of retail stores, and what technology will help to overcome any obstacles.
Here we share the highlights of our study undertaken across EMEA with C-level executives and directors in IT, operations, sales, and innovation.
The store of the future
Staying ahead in brick-and-mortar retail means retailers must focus on creating engaging and memorable experiences delivered seamlessly across all channels.
Most retail leaders see the future in the form of hybrid stores. Merging digital and physical experiences for a seamless shopping.
They predict that stores will become immersive hubs that support e-commerce – a place where consumers can see, feel and try products, then order online. This will generate a closer emotional and experiential connection to brands and their products.
The store of tomorrow is a hybrid between off-line and on-line, centered on the needs of the customer. Staff will be able to recognize and propose specific services from the moment the customer enters the store.
Digital Innovation Manager, Grocery Retailer, Italy
The challenges in creating tomorrow’s stores
Retailer leaders are between a rock and a hard place. While the majority recognize the need for differentiated omnichannel services to win the hearts and minds of customers, legacy systems are holding around half of them back.
Staff training and being able to interact better with customers through the human touch are also key challenges for many retailers.
All these issues are easily addressed with the simple integration of the right tools, like smart data capture on smart devices, to empower staff and give customers superior experiences.
Store associates can capture and see real-time data on screen to support critical tasks like shelf or stock management, as well as customer-facing tasks like mPOS.
The future of store operations technology
Customer experience is still king. Four in ten retail leaders agree that future store operations technology will need to be centered on improving customer experiences with around a third saying it will need to focus specifically on blending online and offline retail together.
These two technology priorities are inextricably linked. Giving customers a better experience is predicated by the ability to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience.
Technology, like smart data capture, brings the online experience into stores. It enhances the shopping experience by enabling customers to interact with products.
For example, consumers can lookup product information and store associates are equipped with real-time product and stock data so they can easily answer questions on-the-spot.
Barriers to store technology improvements
Although retailers can clearly see the need for technology to unify shopping channels and improve the customer experience, implementing it is tricky.
In a similar vein to legacy systems being a major challenge for the store of the future, new technology integration with existing systems worries more than two-thirds of retail leaders the most, followed by user experience (48%) and out-of-date hardware (45%).
Nearly half of retail leaders say that without updating their technology, retailers will continue to endure a poor business-to-employee (B2E) user experience.
Consider technology that can be integrated easily and is both familiar and simple to use – moving it from being a disabler to an enabler of more productive and engaging retail operations.
Technology to improve omnichannel retail
Realizing a seamless omnichannel strategy depends on retail workflows operating together like a well-oiled machine.
Unsurprisingly, more than half of retail leaders pointed to inventory management and shelf management as tasks requiring the most technological support. Clienteling is also high on the list.
From the research, it is clear that having accurate data and the right devices are crucial to the future of in-store retail. Instant access to real-time data enables retail associates to speed through in-store tasks and provide superior customer experiences to drive improved loyalty and higher revenue.
Open the door to the store of the future
For retail leaders across EMEA, being able to deliver truly differentiated omnichannel experiences boils down to optimizing their use of technology. The issues described by retail leaders are easily addressed by integrating the right tools like smart data capture on smart devices.
For a closer look at the findings of this research into the future of store operations, including more detailed statistics, additional findings and some key differences across EMEA regions, see our infographic or download the full report.
Get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of this research or want to start a conversation about how Scandit Smart Data Capture can support the future of your retail operations.