A new global study reveals a mismatch between consumer expectations and retailers’ engagement plans. Some 53% of retailers believe that speed of service is the top priority for customers when they engage with the organization online, however 62% of consumers cite the price of goods and services as the number one priority.

The study, “Driving business innovation through automation”, sponsored by Automic and conducted by Vanson Bourne, also highlights retailers’ concerns about innovation. 30% of retail companies worldwide believe that a failure to innovate in order to keep up with evolving customer needs and technological change (28%) will have the biggest negative impact on their company in the next five years.

“With Christmas nearly upon us, and customers more digitally connected than ever, retailers need to understand what is most important to their customers” says Chris Boorman, CMO, Automic. “Retailers are now faced with a massive dilemma - how to drive business value and agility in the face of customer demands. Automation is the only way to achieve this since it drives business efficiency and frees-up IT resources. This enables them to work on new innovative offerings with their business partners. Failure to do so in an increasingly competitive market place will quickly result in their defeat”.

According to the findings, innovation is as important to consumers as it is to retailers: 89% of consumers say it is important that the organizations they buy from are innovative in the goods/services they offer, while 83% think it is important that the organizations are innovative in the way they interact with the customer. Similarly, 84% of consumers state that their use of an organization would decline if the company failed to embrace technological advancements. Even more consumers (94%) state that their use of an organization would decline if they failed to meet their needs as a customer.

Turning to the retailers themselves, the study finds that the vast majority of business decision makers (BDMs) in retail organizations believe their organization will suffer if their company fails to adapt in tandem with evolving customer needs within the next year. Some 80% forecast a reduction in the number of customers by failing to evolve, whereas 77% anticipate a decline in revenue and 70% expect international operations to decline.

Other key findings from the research include the following:

  • Lack of IT investment will undermine retail business – Around four in ten retail respondents believe their organization will struggle over the next year, if it fails to embrace technological advancements in certain areas. 81% think there will be a decline of varying degree in the number of customers, 78% fear a decline in revenue and 76% a decline in international operations.
  • Barriers to innovation in retail linger – Of the retail organizations that specifically stated barrier to innovation existed, 60% cited proprietary technology as the key barrier followed by budget constraints (51%) and lack of communication between departments (48%).
  • Investment priorities for retailers – The main priorities for technology spend among retailers over the next twelve months are Sales (53%), IT (40%) and Marketing (38%).
  • The consumer view – 84% of consumers believe that their use of an organization would decline if the organization failed to embrace technological advancements.

Research methodology

The research was commissioned by Automic and conducted by Vanson Bourne among 4,400 individuals (4,000 consumers and 400 senior business and IT leaders in retail, utilities, financial services and telecommunications) in four countries: France, Germany, the UK and the US.

About Automic

Automic, a leader in business automation, helps enterprises drive competitive advantage by automating their IT factory - from on-premise to the Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things. With offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Automic powers over 2,600 customers including Bosch, PSA, BT, Carphone Warehouse, Deutsche Post, Societe Generale, TUI and Swisscom. The company is privately held by EQT. More information can be found at www.automic.com.