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Survey: What drives retail investment in emerging technologies?

A new study sheds light on why retailers are implementing technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics.

According to the “Global Logistics Report 2019,” a survey of 533 global supply chain executives from JDA and supply chain logistics provider EFT, a combined 84% of retailer, manufacturer and distributor respondents have a dedicated or ad hoc team for identifying technologies that improve efficiencies and productivity in the supply chain.

Twenty-three percent of retail respondents have budgeted for robotic logistics technology investments. Looking at what areas of the logistics enterprise they will apply artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning solutions, 62% of retail and logistics respondents said transportation management.

Other popular responses included supply chain control tower and orchestration (58%), warehouse management (41%), and pricing (31%). Sixty percent of retailer, manufacturer and distributor respondents said AI and Internet of Things (IoT) technology are either very important or important to remain relevant.

Supply chain executives are also turning to leading-edge technologies to resolve workforce management issues. Two-thirds (66%) of retailer and manufacturer respondents said the availability of labor has affected their operations in the past 24 months. More than one-third (36%) are considering applying automation to aid labor availability. Other leading-edge technologies being considered include visibility tools (25%) and robots and/or drones (15%).

Eighty percent of retailer and manufacturer respondents are investing some portion of gross revenue in supply chain innovation and edge technology. A majority of those (41%) are dedicating 1-2% of gross revenue, with 20% dedicating 2%-3%, 9% dedicating 3%-5%, and 10% dedicating more than 5% of gross revenue to these technologies.

Retailer and manufacturer respondents also reported a number of challenges within their organization in respect to the speed of adoption of new technology. These include lack of resources to drive adoption (32%), resistance to change (28%), no perceived ROI (22%), too challenging and complicated (11%), and no buy-in from leadership (7%).
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