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02/22/2022

Study: Mobility and automation are coming to the store

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Retailers intend to deploy more mobile devices in stores.

Retailers are accelerating plans to enhance the in-store customer and associate experience with mobile and automated technologies.

According to the “2022 Connected Retail Experience Study” by Incisiv, sponsored by Verizon, customer mobile device usage, the number of technology applications, and percentage of technology that will be deployed in the cloud will all increase significantly in the next 12-24 months.

However, the study reveals some significant differences between planned technology rollouts in the grocery/GM and specialty/department store segments. Key findings of the study include:

  • Only 22% of surveyed grocery/general merchandise retailers are satisfied with their digital store experience, compared to 55% of surveyed specialty/department store retailers.
  • Almost all (93%) surveyed retailers expect an increase in the use of consumer mobile devices in stores by 2025, and 83% of surveyed retailers anticipate an increased amount of technology deployed in stores.
  • The percentage of associate tasks that are automated is expected to triple by 2025 (19% to 62%) for grocery/general merchandise retailers, a far higher percentage increase than for specialty/department store retailers, which is expected to double (37% to 72%).
  • Only 20% of grocery/general merchandise retailers are satisfied with their ability to manage peak network traffic, compared to 32% of specialty/department store retailers
  • The number one driver of planned 5G adoption in stores across all surveyed retailers is the increase of customer mobile devices in stores, followed by the increase in associate mobile devices.
  • Associate effectiveness capabilities, such as real-time inventory tracking and associate Wi-Fi, are ranked as the highest priority deployment among all surveyed retailers in the next two years.

A recent survey from omnichannel store operations platform Newstore indicates that in-store mobile technology is one leading-edge feature of the physical store that a growing number of consumers are seeking. More than half (54%) of respondents say associates should have a mobile device, while 39% want to shop and checkout in-store via mobile device. One-third (33%) say store associates should be able check them out anywhere in-store with a mobile device.

“While it is great to see retailers truly looking at how technology can help them improve customer experiences, operational efficiency, and associate effectiveness, they aren’t as clear on the network requirements to implement these technologies,” said Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer, Incisiv. “We found that priorities are different for grocery/general merchandise retailers vs. specialty/department store retailers, but the need for a robust network won’t change.”

“As more mobile and IoT technology is deployed in stores, it will drive the need for more robust network connectivity,” said Jerri Traflet, managing partner, global solutions at Verizon. “It is not surprising that the greatest expected increase in in-store technology – consumer devices – is the number one driver for retailers to consider adopting 5G deployments.”

Incisiv conducted quantitative and qualitative research with over 100 respondents, 42% of which represent companies with over $1 billion in revenue. Eighty-one percent of the respondents were director level or above, and 48% were VP level or above.