Report: Personalization and Advanced Analytics topped the List of Retail Initiatives for 2021

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Dive brief:

  • As more retailers move digital, personalization and advanced analytics tools topped the list of technology investments made by retailers this year, according to a recent report from Forrester.
  • Retailers are also investing in omnichannel processing as shopping across various channels has become extremely popular. About 31% of retail executives spent a large portion of their 2020 budget on omnichannel order fulfillment.
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality, on the other hand, topped the list of hype-driven technologies for retailers and brands. Although several retailers have launched initiatives in both categories, the report says retailers have yet to embrace these technologies more widely.

Dive overview:

COVID-19 has not only accelerated retailers’ transition to a more digital world, it has also shaped their retail technology priorities for 2021.

As the consumer buying journey becomes more complex, making purchases more personalized will become more sophisticated, the report says. While it’s clear to retailers that personalization initiatives are a top priority, consumers don’t seem impressed with their efforts so far. The report states that only 19% of US online consumers believe the information retailers collect from them improves their online experience.

Although advanced analytics lost its top spot compared to last year, it still remains a top priority. Among retailers and wholesale tech makers, 52% said they already have these tools in place, with 32% planning to expand their use.

The rise of e-commerce, in-store pickup and the sidewalk have also made omnichannel execution more relevant in recent months. Among retailers that already have omnichannel fulfillment programs, 22% said they plan to make improvements.

Investments in retail tech, in general, tripled year-over-year in the second quarter to $ 31.5 billion, as more consumers transform into omnichannel shoppers, report says from CB Insights. Walmart, it seems, has also heard about the opportunity. The Bentonville, Ark.-Based retailer in July announced plans to sell its omnichannel technology to other companies.

While some categories have grown in popularity, they have not made the list of ‘hot’ tech initiatives due to the low number of business cases where they generate positive ROI. Yet virtual assistants, geofencing and chatbots are among the initiatives “on the radar” for retailers.


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