As Retail Doubles Down on Technology in 2023, Stretched IT Teams Will Demand More from Their Network
New predictions from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, revealed at NRF 2023, detail how retailers will leverage technology to get ahead of evolving customer demands and operational challenges over the next 12-18 months.
Against an uncertain macro environment, and growing consumer desire for ever more personalized brand treatment, customers are going to be increasingly selective with how and where they spend their money in 2023. As retailers compete for wallet share, they will have to deliver flexible, tailored shopping experiences to attract new footfall and keep both online and in-store customers loyal. This will put a heavy burden on IT teams to support the pace of technological change and deliver the seamless running of operations.
To help retailers as they enter the new year, Aruba worked with global trends agency Foresight Factory to uncover five ways in which the retail experience is set to change in 2023, and to identify the implications this will have for the IT teams and networks tasked with delivering them. The findings provide a compelling argument for a more flexible and agile network consumption model, like Network-as-as-Service (NaaS), to help take some of the strain off the network and IT team, allow for greater scalability, and help deliver a more business-outcome focused networking solution.
1. RETAILERS BRING IMMERSIVE DIGITAL EXPERIENCES TO IN-STORE SHOPPERS
As retailers fight to re-engage customers with physical spaces, they will look to invest more in technologies to deepen and differentiate the immersive experience of in-store shopping trips. Expect AR and VR that allows shoppers to get a better feel for how products will fit into their lives before they reach the point of sale to become fully embedded in a retailer's user experience (UX).
2. DELIVERY OPTIONS BECOME MORE DISPARATE AND DIVERSIFIED
Consumer expectations for on-demand, time-shifted, and location-flexible delivery options are rapidly growing. Retailers and grocers will take an increasingly hybrid approach to fulfilling orders, offering up traditional delivery solutions alongside dark stores, micro-fulfilment centers, grab and go "pop-ups", and on-demand couriers. The use of enhanced geolocation services and even mobile stores will give retailers the chance to bring the point of sale directly to the consmer's home or place of work.
3. IN-STORE SMARTENS UP TO DRIVE DELIGHT AND EFFICIENCY
With e-commerce offering ever more sophisticated competition, in-store spaces will be redefined to not only focus on enhanced customer satisfaction and personalization, but also more efficient business operations. Physical stores will become more connected, with innovations like smart fitting rooms and cashierless exits serving to delight customers, while IoT sensor capabilities provide real-time insights to support operational savings and sustainability ambitions.
4. INTELLIGENT INVENTORY INSIGHTS WILL MAINTAIN CONSUMER LOYALTY
In today's age of instant gratification, consumers expect retailers to deliver what they want, when they want it - with any deviation from what has been promised not tolerated. Expect a surge in automation and predictive technologies to help more accurately track inventory and meet consumer demands in real-time. Smart robots deployed in warehouses and distribution centers will also make operations more intelligent, shifting made-to-order retailing into the mainstream, and reducing waste and excess inventory as a result.
5. SHOWROOMING TURNS TO STREAMING
Livestreaming from physical stores will become more commonplace as brands look to create the next stage of showrooming, giving customers a glimpse behind the scenes. Delivering such experiences will help feed consumer appetite for a local touch and allow retailers to make the most of their remaining physical spaces.
"Whether it's immersive experiences, livestreaming, or new delivery methods, the technology requirements for retailers are becoming denser and more complex as they continue to battle for business. And while vital, new and modern technology will be dependent on having the right infrastructure to support it," said Gerri Hinkel, Director, Solutions and Vertical Marketing, Aruba. "In the face of continued change, retail companies need predictability and confidence in knowing their network can flex to meet evolving consumer demands and that their IT teams won't fall under the burden of continued digitization."
"To achieve this, retailers need to reconsider their network approach - looking at alternative consumption models like NaaS to ensure that they not only have the agility to adapt as demands change, but are set up with a high-performing, secure, reliable, and automated network that can support all this technology and leverage real-time insights to facilitate new customer-facing and smart store initiatives."
About Foresight Factory
Foresight Factory's consumer trends and data insights have helped their clients 'See Beyond', uncovering different, better answers so they can see further. Combining human and machine intelligence, they interpret shifting behaviors and signals to uncover what matters most to consumers today - and tomorrow - empowering brands to know what to do, when and why.
With teams in London, New York and Singapore, Foresight Factory implement global trends which deliver across four strategic goals: eliminating uncertainty, strengthening brand relevance, powering long term growth and optimizing spend.
About Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, is the global leader in secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud networking solutions that use AI to automate the network, while harnessing data to drive powerful business outcomes. With Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) and as-a-service options as part of the HPE GreenLake family, Aruba takes a cloud-native approach to helping customers meet their connectivity, security, and financial requirements across campus, branch, data center, and remote worker environments, covering all aspects of wired, wireless LAN, and wide area networking (WAN).
To learn more, visit Aruba at www.arubanetworks.com. For real-time news updates, follow Aruba on Twitter and Facebook, and for the latest technical discussions on mobility and Aruba products, visit the Airheads Community at community.arubanetworks.com.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Foresight Factory's datasets have been built over decades to deliver robust and accurate predictions by surveying 35,000 people in 27 markets and honing in on 200 demographic customer segment breaks. The range of data mean insights across a spectrum of trend intelligence, including macro trends, consumer trends, sector insights, and disruptive innovation. For this project with HPE Aruba Networking, Foresight Factory focused on trends and data in the retail sector, with special attention to the impact of technology expansion and innovation. The "global consumer" in this data refers to an average across the surveyed markets of consumers aged 18-64.
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