Retailers turn to analytics and AI to ease high street woes

DataIQ News

Retailers are planning to embrace a raft of data-driven technologies to turnaround their struggling high street operations as well as boost their online efforts, with artificial intelligence and data analytics set to play a crucial role in their revival strategies.

Rackspace surveyed 250 IT decision makers in the UK retail industry to see how they are adopting new technologies to react to shifting consumer trends, while continuing to deliver cost-savings and a flawless customer experience.

When asked about specific technology investments, more respondents indicated that they plan to invest in their online capabilities than instore capabilities , with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (33%), chatbots (30%), and virtual and augmented reality (24%) primed for significant adoption.

However, the three leading technologies set to be adopted over the next 12 months  are data analytics (48%), mobile applications (46%), and cyber security (46%). These three technologies also dominate UK retail IT department budgets for the year ahead, representing up to 13% of spend each.

Rackspace chief technology officer for the EMEA region Lee James said: "Retailers see investing in new technologies as an opportunity to reinvigorate the instore experience. The same technologies that will be so vital to the inevitable ecommerce expansion – like data analytics, mobile applications and AI – can help to deliver on a flawless customer experience across every channel."

However, there are significant barriers to delivering on this vision. Those surveyed revealed that the greatest of these were: budget constraints (42%), a lack of IT / technical skills (27%), the availability of partners to support (20%), legal and regulatory compliance (19%), and a lack of strategic vision (18%).

James added: "The death of the high street presents a very real and immediate threat for retailers of all shapes and sizes. However, this is not just a barrier, it also an opportunity for firms as they look to embrace new technologies to deliver a flawless customer experience instore and online."