October 1 is also the deadline for retailers to migrate to EMV chip technology, which is meant to improve security against fraud. However, the accompanying liability shift – in which the burden for accepting responsibility for fraud will now shift to the retailer, rather than banks and credit card companies – is worrisome. “Everyone has some sort of security assessment or strategic priorities they are implementing, hoping they will not fall short,” says Lewis.
3. Hone in on analytics capabilities
As retailers look to squeeze as much profit out of the holiday season as possible, data analytics has become essential in several ways, including increasing revenue; managing costs and better engaging with customers. “Analytics helps retailers take the data they have from customer shopping histories, combine it with other demographic information to better understand who their customers are and provide better offers,” says SAS’s Lipson.
But analytics also helps achieve higher profits on the supply chain side, by finding ways to move product from the factory to the consumer faster and more efficiently. ”We see retailers getting ready to analyze their October and early November sales data and position their goods accordingly,” he explains. “They can see where the actual consumer demand is coming from, using structured and unstructured data with analytics tools, which informs better matching of supply and demand.”
4. Connect the back-end to the front end
The most successful retailers will be able to connect their front-end consumer experience marketing tools and omnichannel insights with their back-end consumer-driven supply chain, says Lewis. That means intelligently developing capabilities that consumers are increasingly seeing as table stakes, including shipping from the store, or ordering online and picking up at the store.
“If those capabilities don’t already exist, they need to be piloted and pressure-tested to be available to the consumer in the peak shopping period,” he explains.
It’s never too late to boost technology readiness
While the holidays are upon us, it’s never too late to instill and develop a continuous learning environment that will boost technology capabilities going forward, says Lewis, who says many retailers are announcing laboratory stores where they pilot their most innovative ideas and concepts to see what gets traction during the holiday season.
“One size doesn’t fit all in this omnichannel world, so each retailer has to determine what its capabilities need to be based on its brand value proposition,” he says. “It’s never too late to examine the work that’s been done already and to invest to shore up what might be some question marks in terms of holiday readiness.”
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