Incisiv (credit image/Pixabay/Johnny_px)Incisiv has published its 2024 Connected Retail Experience Study: Focusing on Omnichannel Efficiency. The research was conducted in collaboration with Verizon and Cisco. The study shows retailers are seeking innovative technologies to revolutionise store efficiency, mitigate increasing retail theft, and address labour shortages.

The research suggests retailers will focus on improving their omnichannel operational efficiency amidst challenges in loss prevention and labour issues. Pragmatic innovation will be prioritised over blue-sky ideas.

As a result, retailers are honing in on omnichannel efficiency to drive their strategic investments, recognizing its critical role in improving customer satisfaction and profit margin. Investments will focus on improving inventory accuracy, associate productivity and process efficiency.

Loss prevention has become a high priority for enterprises. This surge in loss prevention attention is a response to rising concerns over theft and shrinkage. Retailers are recognizing that robust loss prevention measures are not just about deterrence but also about embracing innovative technologies that can offer proactive prevention.
Omnichannel’s pervasiveness in retail is both a reflection of the present and a blueprint for the future of the industry.

A staggering 73% of retail transactions involve a digital touchpoint, underscoring the hybrid nature of modern shopping behaviours. While digital sales currently account for 15.7% of total retail revenue, this figure continues to grow, heavily influencing consumer choices and shopping experiences.

Post-COVID, customers returned to physical stores but with new expectations; they demand a shopping experience that fluidly integrates digital convenience with in-store tangibility. Retailers are thus tasked with an imperative: to deliver a seamless omnichannel journey that resonates with the customer at every point.

Omnichannel and mobile experiences have headroom for improvement

While retailers have made headway in establishing online platforms, the quest for a truly seamless omnichannel experience remains elusive. The report suggests there was significant work required to enhance mobile interfaces.

Grocery and general merchandise retailers have accelerated their digital shift during COVID-19. These sectors report modest contentment with their digital presence. In contrast, speciality and department stores are more content with their overall digital progress, with 69% satisfaction with their online/web presence. However, their omnichannel (35%) and mobile experiences (47%) indicate considerable opportunity for growth.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Omnichannel efficiency is 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 rose to the top of the agenda: 92% of retailers say improving loss prevention is an important driver of their store technology strategy. This was up from 52% just a year ago. 98% of business executives and 85% of IT executives cite loss prevention as the most important outcome for investments for  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 organisation. Although retailers estimate that 72% of store tasks can be fully or partially automated, only 33% have been automated to date.
(credit image/LinkedIn/Gaurav Pant)
Gaurav Pant, Chief Insights Officer at Incisiv

This shift is not just about technology implementation. It is 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. 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 is a wake-up call. Retailers must accelerate their digital initiatives to empower their workforce.”

“Retailers are tackling loss prevention and real-time inventory tracking through the deployment of AI-powered live video analysis demanding more bandwidth and speed. As a result, 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.”

Enterprise Times: What this means for businesses.

According to this report, brands and retailers are seriously focusing on omnichannel efficiency. This fundamental shift towards digital transformation emphasises the need for integrated, intelligent solutions for retailers. Solutions that not only enhance customer satisfaction and profitability but also streamline operations in an increasingly complex retail environment. What was interesting about the research was the gap between the business needs expressed by those responsible for retail operations. Compared to the perceived needs and resultant capabilities provided by their existing technology platforms.

Success in the current retail era hinges on meeting the customer wherever they are. Blending the digital and the physical into one cohesive narrative. Omnichannel isn’t just an approach. It is the foundational stake in the ground for retail’s future. The report suggests that retailers still have a lot of work to go to achieve the Nirvana of a truly omnichannel experience for customers.


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