CSA Exclusive: Retailers see tech as crucial to customer experience

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
shopping cart in lightbulb

In a Rackspace Technology survey exclusively released to Chain Store Age, retailers revealed a customer-centric view of technology’s benefits.

The global survey of 1,400 executives at companies in six vertical industries (including retail) with more than $300 million in annual earnings indicates 63% of retailers look to new technology to respond to customer needs, and 45% say their company is receptive to new ways technology can help them improve the customer experience.

Furthermore, 57% of retailers say customer experience is a good reason to modernize their company’s app technology, and applications play a key role in improving customer experience for 70% of retailers. Improving customer experience is a key priority for 85% of retailers.

Nearly all (90%) of retailers measure customer experience. Two-thirds of these use customer satisfaction (CSAT) measurement scores, and 38% measure customer retention or churn, among other methods. In addition, six in 10 retailers say customer experience is enhanced through app technology, and over one-third (36%) say apps enable their ability to tailor sales to customer preferences.

When asked what technologies benefit their businesses most financially (generating revenue and reducing costs), retailers said:

  • AI/machine learning (64%);
  • Enterprise software (58%);
  • Cybersecurity (57%);
  • E-commerce (45%);
  • Internet of Things (40%);
  • SaaS (36%).

Other interesting findings include:

  • 90% of retailers say their appreciation for application technology has grown over the past five years.
  • 53% of retail executives expect technology to help them respond to a shifting competitive landscape.
  • 73% of non-tech c-suite retail executives understand the bottom-line benefits of application technology, and 92% say they have a better understanding of them than they did five years ago.
  • 52% of retailers say it takes weeks to gain consensus before implementing change; 40% say it takes months.
  • Half of retailers are currently modernizing their applications. Of their app modernization goals for the next 18 months, 55% say enterprise software is a goal, 51% are interested in consumer facing apps, and 34% in e-commerce systems.
  • When purchasing apps from a third party, 53% of retailers look at security and data protection and 49% at ease of use.
  • When asked the consequences of retail legacy applications that aren’t modernized in the next two to three years, top retailer responses included loss of business/revenue (67%), employee turnover (50%), and security exposure (50%). 
  • When asked how technology drives corporate strategy, top retailer responses included efficiency (64%), employee collaboration (51%), simplifying decision-making (48%), and customer analysis/pulse (46%).

“The results of our survey are further evidence that modernizing applications through a user lens is not just a ‘nice to have’ from a customer satisfaction perspective, but also delivers a wealth of tangible, quantifiable benefits to organizations,” said Jeff DeVerter, CTO, Rackspace Technology. “Applications are a foundation of customer experience, and it is encouraging to see an increased focused on and rising enthusiasm for customer experience improvements.”

Coleman Parkers Research conducted the survey for multi-cloud technology services company Rackspace Technology between March and May 2021.