Retail chiefs are increasingly turning to data-driven technology in a bid to improve their bricks and mortar operations to match the online shopping experience.
According to new research conducted by consultancy REPL Group, retailers are prioritising a frictionless high street shopping experience by providing real-time stock availability (49%) and offering delivery from store (46%) as they look to maximise the benefits offered by their physical stores.
Over half (51%) are also investing in quicker payment options, while two-fifths think retailers should be investing in artificial intelligence, IoT networks (26%) and robotic process automation (17%) so they can guarantee they have the right stock available at the right time.
In the face of falling footfall, ensuring adequate stock will not only ensure consumers are able to buy the items they require, but could also inspire impulse purchases once in store, the study says.
REPL Group executive chairman Mike Callender said: "TV and social media are influencing the way people purchase goods, with the general public now buying items based on observations. But, as a retailer, how do you understand what these trends might be and how do you map them into your plans?
“Streamlining the supply chain through technology will enable retailers to keep up with changing trends, ensuring that they don’t overstock certain items and therefore are unable to cater to the latest consumer demands. So, it’s vital that they begin to respond to this development and explore how they can digitally enable their physical infrastructure to maximise its benefits.
“With so much competition within the retail landscape, businesses mustn’t overlook the smaller details that can make a huge difference to the customer experience. For instance, traditionally at this time of year consumers put off making purchases until Black Friday, so sales in the month running up to it can be severely impacted.
"However, that needn’t be the case, as if retailers provide a good in-store experience and the right products at the right price, the convenience of that combination is likely to result in individuals making a purchase immediately, rather than waiting for products to be discounted."