- As more retailers move toward becoming digital-first, personalization and advanced analytics tools have ranked the highest in the list of tech investments retailers are making this year, according to a recent report from Forrester.
- Retailers are also investing in omnichannel fulfillment as shopping across various channels has become immensely popular. Roughly 31% of retail executives allocated a large cut of their 2020 budget toward omnichannel fulfillment.
- Augmented reality and virtual reality, on the other hand, topped the list of hype-driven tech for retailers and brands. Though several retailers have been rolling out initiatives in both categories, the report indicates that retailers have yet to adopt these technologies more broadly.
COVID-19 has not only accelerated retailers' shift toward a more digital world, it also shaped their priorities in retail tech for 2021.
As consumers' path to purchase becomes more complex, making shopping more personalized will become more sophisticated, the report indicates. Though it is clear to retailers that personalization initiatives are a top priority, consumers seem unimpressed with their efforts so far. The report cited that only 19% of U.S. online consumers think that the information retailers collect from them makes their online experience better.
Though advanced analytics lost its top spot from last year, it still remains a huge priority. Among retailers and wholesale technology decision-makers, 52% said they already have these tools in place, 32% of which plan on expanding their use.
The rise of e-commerce, in store pickup and curbside have also made omnichannel fulfillment more relevant in recent months. Of the retailers that already have omnichannel fulfillment programs, 22% said they plan on making improvements.
Retail tech investments, in general, tripled year over year in the second quarter to $31.5 billion as more consumers turn into omnichannel shoppers, according to a report from CB Insights. Walmart, it seems, also caught wind of this opportunity. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer announced in July that it plans to sell its omnichannel technology to other businesses.
Although some categories have gained popularity, they didn't make the "Hot" tech initiatives list due to the low number of business cases where they generate positive return on investments. Still, virtual assistants, geofencing and chatbots are among the initiatives that are "on the radar" for retailers.