Basking Ridge, N.J. -- Verizon Business, which delivers integrated, secure IT solutions to many of the world’s largest retailers, said it predicts the following five trends will shape the retail industry in the coming year.
First, the company expects mobile commerce demand will spike. “Consumers have high expectations for m-commerce,” according to Verizon Business. Customer demand for m-commerce, however, will outpace retailers’ ability to deliver it. “Retailers must adapt their IT systems and processes to support m-commerce, or risk alienating customers,” the company said.
The cloud is expected to go mainstream. Verizon Business said
retailers will turn to the cloud (web-based computing delivered “as a service”) more and more as they look to control cost and reduce complexity while boosting agility. Also, ownership of brand will shift from retailer to consumer. “Consumers are relying more on discussions and customer evaluations that take place over social media to drive product selection, as opposed to supplier or retailer advertising,” said Verizon Business. “Consumers will increasingly ignore store associates and instead conduct research on their own -- or via their mobile device while in the store.”
Security and compliance continue to be concerns, the company said. New technologies will require increased protection of consumer personally identifiable information such as social security (or national identification) and credit card numbers. Also, with the October release of the updated Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), retailers must quickly get up to speed on changes to the standard and incorporate them into their IT processes. Updates to the standard will force retailers to take a much closer look at securing virtualization technology and improving risk-management capabilities.
And, finally, shopping in “silos” will disappear. Previously, retailers operated their various customer touch points as separate business units, using distinct staffs and business processes for their websites, brick-and-mortar stores, and mobile commerce engines. Customers, however, now expect one seamless, consistent store experience, whether they are visiting the store or its website, or shopping from a smart phone.
“The retail industry is rapidly evolving,” said Ravi Bagal, VP retail and distribution for Verizon Business. “Consumers are challenging the industry to adapt to the ways they live and shop today. Supported by emerging technologies, consumers will be more focused than ever on price and convenience. As such, retailers will need to even more clearly differentiate themselves through excellent customer service that’s further enabled through technology.”