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92% of retailers say loss prevention is a key driver of store technology

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The retail industry is at a pivotal juncture where automation is transitioning from an optional efficiency enhancer to an operational necessity.

NEW YORK — The 2024 Connected Retail Experience Study: Focusing on Omnichannel Efficiency by Incisiv, conducted in collaboration with Verizon and Cisco, shows that retailers are actively seeking innovative technologies to revolutionize store efficiency, mitigate increasing retail theft, and address critical labor shortages.

This pivotal shift towards digital transformation highlights the urgent need for integrated, intelligent solutions that not only enhance customer satisfaction and profitability but also streamline operations in an increasingly complex retail environment.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Omnichannel Efficiency Vital Yet Underachieved: Store efficiency, the #1 driver of retail business strategy, enhances customer satisfaction and profit margins. However, only 36% of grocery and general merchandise retailers express satisfaction with their current technology infrastructure.

  • Loss Prevention Rises to the Top of the Agenda: 92% of retailers say improving loss prevention is an important driver of their store technology strategy, up from 52% just a year ago. Almost all (98%) of business executives and 85% of IT executives cite loss prevention as the most important outcome for investments in store systems.

  • Retailers Have a Digital Associate Experience Divide: Only 11% of retailers meet the digital experience expectations of their Gen Z store associates. Just 26% of grocery and general merchandise retailers are pleased with the technological tools available to their staff.

  • Automation and AI: Significant Potential but Understanding is Limited: A mere 14% of retailers have a common understanding of AI across the organization. Although retailers estimate 72% of store tasks can be fully or partially automated, only 33% have been automated to date.

“This shift is not just about technology implementation; it’s about shaping a new retail paradigm,” said Gaurav Pant, Chief Insights Officer at Incisiv. “Bridging the omnichannel gap is not just a matter of competitive advantage but a necessity for survival, and adopting new technologies like automation is the frontier for differentiation. The disparity in digital experience for store associates, especially among Gen Z, is more than just a technological shortfall; it’s a wake-up call. Retailers must accelerate their digital initiatives to empower their workforce.”

“As retailers tackle loss prevention and real-time inventory tracking through the deployment of AI-powered live video analysis demanding more bandwidth and speed, their networks will be stressed like never before,” said James Hughes, Retail CTO, Verizon Business. “Retailers continue to venture on their digital transformation journeys and it is imperative to bring together disconnected systems to create powerful, modular and intelligent solutions that can enable new functionalities, smarter insights and faster decision-making.”

“What I found most striking about the results of the survey was that there is a distinct gap between the business needs expressed by those responsible for retail operations, and the perceived needs and resultant capabilities provided by their existing technology platforms.” said Mark Scanlan, Global Industry Lead, Retail at Cisco. “This will ultimately result in the business deploying shadow IT solutions to deliver the functionality they need.”

To learn more, download the full results of the 2024 Connected Retail Experience Study: Focusing on Omnichannel Efficiency. 


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