Changes in consumer shopping habits and emerging technologies are driving change across the retail industry.
Verizon Business, which delivers integrated, secure IT solutions to many of the world's largest retailers, predicts the following five trends will shape the retail industry in the coming year:
- Mobile commerce demand will spike. Consumers have high expectations for mobile commerce, or "m-commerce," which enables them to make purchases, view coupons and scan for competitors' products - all on a mobile device. 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 cloud goes mainstream. "Cloud" is no longer a buzz word. 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. Retailers will look for secure, flexible options that enable them to shift critical IT applications to the cloud. Cloud is a natural fit for retail, given the fast pace of change and seasonal demand spikes of the business.
- Ownership of brand shifts 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. 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. 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.
- 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, bricks-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 smartphone.
"The retail industry is rapidly evolving," said Ravi Bagal, vice president of 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."
About Verizon Retail
Verizon Retail is an IT consulting practice group focused on helping retailers simplify their IT infrastructure, better control costs, and protect their data and reputation, with the ultimate goal of better serving customers. Through Verizon's Framework for Retail, the company brings a standards-based approach to retailers. The framework leverages Verizon's networking, managed IT and application solutions, specifically drawing upon Verizon's cloud computing and security offerings.
About Verizon Business
Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ), is a global leader in communications and IT solutions. We combine professional expertise with one of the world's most connected IP networks to deliver award-winning communications, IT, information security and network solutions. We securely connect today's extended enterprises of widespread and mobile customers, partners, suppliers and employees - enabling them to increase productivity and efficiency and help preserve the environment. Many of the world's largest businesses and governments - including 96 percent of the Fortune 1000 and thousands of government agencies and educational institutions - rely on our professional and managed services and network technologies to accelerate their business. Find out more at www.verizonbusiness.com.