Innovations in information technology (IT) continue to transform the retail sector, with digital signage, payment processing, customer engagement and other solutions playing increasingly important functions, according to a new research report.
Seventy-two percent of retailers surveyed rate technology as important to their business, and that figure is estimated to increase to 83 percent by 2014.
But the study also indicates that large numbers of retailers have not yet succeeded in using technology as well as they could or should. Just seven percent of retailers report being exactly where they want to be in using technology, while 29 percent rate themselves as being very close.
A net 63 percent of retailers expect to increase IT spending in 2012 with the remaining 37 percent planning to cut back or hold the line. Large retailers expect to boost IT spending the most — 4.8 percent, on average. For all firms, the planned average increase is 4.2 percent.
New developments in the areas of digital signage, social engagement, mobility, payment processing and other areas haven given retailers new tools and capabilities and, in some cases, challenges.
One in three retailers currently use digital signage, with an additional 20 percent intending to do so soon. Sales and promotional announcements and other direct engagement with customers are the most popular uses, cited by 71 percent of respondents.
According to the research, digital signage appeals to retailers on many levels:
* 71% Sales or promotional announcements
* 46% Photo display (e.g., images of customers using various products)
* 38% Custom videos (e.g., tutorials, advice, customer testimonials, etc.)
* 35% Internet connectivity (e.g., to display store website, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)
* 31% Real-time product info (e.g., inventory quantities, product shipment dates, etc.)
* 30% Entertainment (e.g., TV or movie) to keep kids or others occupied while parents shop
* 30% Touch screen display allowing customers to interact with content
* 25% Product reviews from customers or third parties
* 18% App-enabled
Retailers also are experimenting with technologies that improve upon point of sale systems or leapfrog those systems entirely and leverage new platforms for payment processing.
According to Steven Ostrowski, director, corporate communications, CompTIA, a notable example of this strategy in action is the Apple store, where customers do not wait in cash register lines but instead check-out through roaming store employees equipped with smartphone-enabled payment technology.
“This allows retailers to provide shorter check-out times and better utilize store staff that can multi-task between helping customers with product questions and then processing payments on the spot,” he says.
(To see full article: http://www.digitalsignageconnection.com)