5 Must-Know Technology Trends That Will Drive Retail Business In 2013: Comments By 14 Retail Execs

As the lines between traditional and digital channels continue to blur and the need for competitive intelligence and price monitoring software grows, Retail Touchpoints recently asked 14 key executives from leading solution-provider companies to share their insights on technology trends in 2013. Each executive was asked to answer the following question: Which technology trend will impact the retail industry most significantly in 2013 (and why)?

The answers included how technology impacts shopping, what tools are being used, the increasing influence of mobility, what shoppers want; and what retailers need to do, touching on the subjects of Mobility; Customer-Centric Data, Shopper Buying Behavior; Big Data Analytics; Integrated Multichannel Retail Capabilities; and Technology for Intelligence, Inventory and Assortment Management.

1. Mobility Biggest Trend Cited By Several. 

Acknowledging the ubiquity of smartphones in particular, several of the respondents (John Pruban, CEO, tekservePOS, Lori Schafer, SAS Retail Executive Advisor; Andrea Morgan-Vandome, Vice President of Strategy and Solution Marketing, Oracle Retail; and Steve Topper, Business Solutions Architect, Pitney Bowes Software) said mobility clearly will be the largest trend going forward into 2013 heralding a new generation of mobile analytics.

2. Customer-Centric Data & Shopper Buying Behavior Will Gain Steam in 2013. (Ian Rawlins, Vice President, Retail Product Marketing, Epicor Software).

Retailers will tell you that nothing is a better indicator of likely future purchases than what a consumer has already purchased. And many programs can be automated or triggered based on a consumer’s behavior or action, giving the marketer more time to focus on other innovative ways to build customer loyalty and work on serving the customer.

Forward-looking retailers will implement technologies that will personalize their customers’ shopping experiences and enable sales associates to be better informed and connected with customers, said Paul Steinberg, SVP and CTO, Motorola Solutions. 

Last year, Forrester declared 2012 as the Year of the Customer, the social/mobile customer, noted Lori Mitchell-Keller, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Retail Industry, SAP. More than ever before, customers were more empowered through social channels, feedback mechanisms, 24 x 7 access to information, price comparison data and “deals.”

Understand why shoppers behave the way they do and you can inform and influence their shopping behavior. Influence their buying behavior and you can get them to spend more at your store and less at your competitor’s store. (Tim Simmons, Vice President, Global Industry Marketing, Retail, Travel, Hospitality & Transportation, Teradata). 

3. The Power Of Predictive Analytics & Big Data Analytics Will Be Exercised. 

Predictive analytics and big data will be another technology focus area in 2013. (Brendan O’Meara, Managing Director, Worldwide Retail Sector, Microsoft Corp.) As Dick Cantwell, VP, Internet Business Solutions Group for Retail, Cisco said, "Big Data opens the retail door to the “Internet of Everything." In 2013, “Big Data” analysis will have the largest impact on the retail industry, wrote several of the executives.

Aside from historical transaction data already in-house, retailers now have access to an amazing amount of structured and unstructured data and are able to rapidly obtain new and deeper insights into consumption trends and shopper behavior.

4. Tools & Technology Power Will Be Harnessed. 

With predictive analytics and big data already a technology focus area in 2013, in order to remain competitive with a growing variety of shopping alternatives, retailers must seek new ways to deliver the most value, revenue and loyalty. They must harness the increasing volume and availability of technology to process large amounts of data into meaningful reports and insights as quickly as possible. The information includes measuring and analyzing customer interaction, adjust assortment, optimize replenishment, and anticipate challenges throughout the supply chain. As a result, real-time decisioning tools will be in high demand as retailers seek to ensure that they are sending successful customer communications.

Retailers’ sales are only as good as their inventory/assortment, wrote Mike Terzich, SVP, Global Sales and Marketing, Zebra Technologies, adding, While some merchants think they have 95% inventory accuracy, the reality is much closer to 60%.

5. Integrated Multichannel Retail Capabilities Will Play An Important Role. 

Smart retailers will use omnichannel retailing strategies to give customers a seamless, consistent experience, whether it’s in store, online or through a mobile device… and will gain understanding of customers through integrated data collection and analytics, according to Scott Kingsfield, Senior Vice President & General Manager, NCR Retail General/mobile/technical.  


-- The biggest challenge for retailers will be to understand what technology solutions to use in order to maximize sales and service; deal with mobile sales; analyze data, plan and manage inventory, check competitive pricing, and monitor the competitive behavior of tech titans like Amazon, Google, Apple, eBay, and Facebook that have driven sweeping change across many industries using technology.  (More about them in my next post).  

-- A fickle and unpredictable customer makes retailers' job of buying what they are going to sell less intuitive and more dependent on data-driven insight. (Mike Terzich, SVP, Global Sales and Marketing, Zebra Technologies). That's also where assortment intelligence should come into the picture.

-- While creating the new applications for analysis of multi-structured data requires a strategic investment in specialized resources and tools, the payoff is immense. (Tim Simmons, Vice President, Global Industry Marketing, Retail, Travel, Hospitality & Transportation, Teradata). 


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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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