Retailers investing in new technologies and services this year could well be buying tools that will be used every day over the next 10 years or even longer. If carefully chosen, these will be tools that can be honed and enhanced to suit the retailer’s changing needs in a competitive market. These are tools that will stand retailers in good stead as companies develop businesses that span continents, and as retailers present customers with seamless experiences that enable these customers to buy in the way that best suits them in any given moment.
But purchasing decisions can be fraught with difficulty, and behind every successful purchase lies in-depth consideration of the services and technologies that can best support the retailer’s strategies. Questions will range from specification to price, and whether a supplier can deliver on promises made. Retailers must judge whether a technology will be fit for the long term in the fast-developing world of digital commerce.
This third edition of the Internet Retailing Procurement Guide aims to help retailers faced with those tough decisions. Over the coming pages, our experienced team focuses on key areas in retail and the major issues to consider when investing in technology and services.
CUSTOMER-FACING TECHNOLOGIES AND SERVICES
The early part of the procurement guide takes an in-depth look at customer-facing technologies and services. We start with Strategy and an assessment of why and how retailers can best approach the task of bringing expert support from consultants and digital agencies, in order to provide both support and a top-level overview that assists in developing future retail strategies.
In our Marketing section, we consider how digital marketing professionals can use technologies such as personalisation to win new customers and to communicate with them effectively across sales channels.
The User Experience section considers the move towards omnichannel retail and the challenges this presents. How do retailers go about creating joined-up customer experiences, and what specific expertise should companies involved in this area be able to bring to the table?
Our Selling and Merchandising feature takes a look at the increasingly diverse range of tools on offer to merchandisers, while considering how to choose the ones that are future-proof in a fast-changing world.
Then, our Payment section charts the emergence of new payments methods and how retailers can manage the balancing act between customers’ security and convenience, and the move towards omnichannel solutions.
Our Operations section assesses how to put customers at the centre of developing fulfilment and logistics services that deliver the convenience that shoppers increasingly demand.
In the Customer Service feature, we consider the role that good service plays in maintaining sustainable relationships with customers. In an omnichannel world, this will mean an increased emphasis on personalisation.
SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
In the second part of the guide, dealing with systems and processes, our focus is on the back office. The Retail section takes a look at back-office retail systems and how solutions from order management systems to product information systems have developed to fulfill new needs.
Our next feature focuses on Internet Retailing In-Store Systems (IRIS) and at the way retailers are taking digital into the store, from tablets and kiosks to free wi-fi and beacons. We ask how retailers can plan for mobile to be used as a bridge between store and website.
Next, we consider the central role of Ecommerce technologies in all retail, and how the central platform now goes far beyond the website to extend into the store and the call centre, and link the different parts of the business into a seamless whole.
Finally, with International and cross-border trade becoming increasingly important for retailers looking to expand, we consider some of the factors that come into play when choosing partners that can help retailers tackle new markets.
HOW IT WORKS
As in previous years, each feature is made up of two key parts. In the Market Overview we take a look at where the market is now, and what the essential services and technologies are that retailers can bring to bear to serve the present needs of customers. This section also includes 10 key issues to bear in mind when commissioning. Then in our Innovation and Future Trends section we take a look at issues that will be appearing on the horizon in years to come. This year, for the first time, we also include links to relevant stories on InternetRetailing.net and beyond.
During the course of our research we’ve been impressed by the rapid development of technologies that are moving firmly towards an ever-more connected world. In the UK, the use of mobile devices for browsing and buying is growing fast, and the rise of beacon technology is providing a bridge between the store and digital retail. Customers will soon expect to shop in ways that are most convenient to them, having offers, communications and more coming via their mobile devices, if they so choose.
Those procurement staff who keep this future vision in mind when commissioning technology and services in the present will put themselves at the front of field for the growth that’s now visible in
It’s been fascinating compiling this guide. We hope you will find it a useful source of information and guidance over the year ahead.
MEET THE TEAM
Chloe Rigby is the co-editor of Internet Retailing’s special reports. She’s an award-winning former business editor of the Bristol Evening Post, where she launched a weekday business supplement. She has written for a wide variety of online and offline publications. After graduating from UCL, she lived for several years in Italy.
Jonathan Wright is the co-editor of Internet Retailing’s special reports, and also writes white papers and research reports for Internet Retailing. He earned his e-stripes on the UK launch of new economy monthly Business 2.0 back at the turn of the millennium. Among other publications, his work has been published in
The Guardian, T3, BBC Focus and BBC History Magazine.
Paul Skeldon has been a mobile commerce journalist for more than 15 years and had been covering the retail sector for the past five years. He is the editor of M-Retailing, the mobile newsletter and website partner to InternetRetailing.net, and has written a book on m-commerce. He’s a big fan of gadgets.
Penelope Ody has been writing about the retail sector for more than 35 years, starting with Retail & Distribution Management and Drapers, where she was deputy editor. Freelance since 1983, she edited Retail Automation (1985-95) and Retail Solutions (1998-2003), and has written on retail topics for numerous publications. Her books include Online Retailing (FT, 2000).
Christian Annesley has been writing and talking about business issues since 1997. An award-winning news editor at Computer Weekly, he was also launch editor of the regional business magazine South West Insider.