Retailers urged to embrace new technologies

Retailers must look beyond legacy systems and point of sale upgrades and invest in innovative technologies such as radio...

Retailers must look beyond legacy systems and point of sale upgrades and invest in innovative technologies such as radio frequency identification and self-service checkouts to sustain competitive advantage, analyst firm GartnerG2 has advised.

Technology has become a major differentiator for retailers, which have traditionally focused on store upgrades, pricing, product ranges and improved sales staff to beat competitors, it said.

Stephen Smith, an analyst with gartnerG2 said carefully targeted technology can not only improve these areas but will, for the first time, also improve customer service through devices such as self-service checkouts.

"Consumers are willing to interface with technology to improve their in-store experience," he said. "Implementing technologies like self-checkout and kiosks allows customers to have a hand in addressing their biggest service issues. Wireless devices that help staff serve customers on the sales floor are critical as well."

GartnerG2 identified four essential areas for retailers to invest in over the next five to 10 years: store execution technologies such as self-service checkouts; RFID; analytics and optimisation software; and customer relationship management at a store level.

However, Smith warned, retailers should not abandon upgrades to their legacy and point-of-sale systems, particularly in view of the chip and Pin liability change due in 2005.

daniel.thomas@rbi.co.uk

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