Innovative Retail Technologies

NOV-DEC 2016

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Nov-Dec 2016 8 Inventory Visibility To Drive Omni-Channel Investment Since our 2014 tech spending survey effort, we've been asking our survey sample whether they agreed with the statement, "My company has inventory visibility across all channels." Progress here has been slow, but that appears poised for significant change. Back in 2014, half of our survey sample agreed with the statement, just 17 percent of them strongly. This year, the overall figure increased to 55 percent agreement, and the 26 percent that strongly agreed tells us that confidence appears to be growing among them. We found more evidence in the importance of inventory visibility when we asked our sample about their top priorities for supply chain/logistics spending in 2017. Inventory management/ visibility was the far-and-away leader of the category at 37 percent, followed by warehouse/DC management and price management at 25 percent and 26 percent, respectively. These three leading priorities are evidence of the digital influence on modern retail. To meet customer experience expectations, retailers must be able to locate inventory anywhere in the supply chain — be it on a store shelf, in a warehouse, or on a delivery truck. To quickly and flexibly fulfill the order of that merchandise, warehouse and DC automation tools are in high demand. And to win orders in the first place, merchants are investing in price management tools to help them navigate the complex and highly competitive downward price pressure that's arisen largely from the success of pure-play e-commerce competition. A full 55 percent of retailers agreed with the statement, "My company is actively investing in omni-channel systems and technologies," and nearly a quarter of them strongly agreed. If their supply chain spending plans for 2017 are any indication, we expect that figure to climb considerably in the coming year. Coming Soon To A Store Near You For the second year in a row, wireless networking (40 percent) and Wi-Fi (30 percent) lead retailers' in-store software infrastructure priorities. That's a direct reflection of the continued effort to create closer connections with consumers' digital (mobile and e-commerce) personas. It also sets the stage for the extension of enterprise inventory data into the hands of store-level associates. Payment terminal investments peaked at around 30 percent in 2015 and hovered at around 20 percent in the years prior and since. Payment processing software, however, is a top-three store-level software investment priority in 2017.

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