A '2017 Retail Vision Study' by Zebra Technologies revealed that 68 percent of retailers in the Asia Pacific region plan to adopt IoT technologies by 2021 to meet the demands of savvy, empowered customers.
The other two technologies that retailers intend to invest in are machine learning/ cognitive computing (65 percent) and automation (57 percent).
The survey polled 1,700 decision makers from retail companies globally to find out retailers' areas of focus and concerns, as well as how the evolving customer expectations and technology advancements shape the future of the industry for the next four years. Twenty-eight percent of them are retail business-to-business managers from Asia Pacific including Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand.
The study also found that retailers are planning to invest in mobile devices, kiosks and tablets to increase payment options, and speed up the check-out process. By 2021, at least 86 percent of APAC retailers will deploy mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) devices, which will allow customers to pay through debit or credit cards from anywhere in the store.
Besides that, it was revealed that customers are often annoyed by inconsistent pricing between stores as well as the inability to locate specific items. To address this, 73 percent of APAC retailers said they will reinvent their supply chains by using automated sensors and analytics to offer real-time visibility.
Retailers are also considering RFID technology to enhance visibility into their supply chains and reduce cost in the long run. According to Zebra, RFID is able to help increase inventory accuracy from 65 percent to up to 95 percent, while reducing out-of-stocks by 60 to 80 percent.
Asia Pacific Retail Vision Study 2017,Infographic. Credit: Zebra Technologies
Addressing new consumer demands
Nearly three quarters of retailers in APAC will be able to offer shoppers personalised experiences by 2021. According to Zebra's study, this will be enabled by technologies such as big data and micro locationing, which allows retailers to know when a specific customer is in the store.
Understanding the importance of big data to their operations (72 percent), most of the retailers in APAC see themselves investing in predictive analytics, software analytics for price optimisation, and cameras and video analytics for operational purposes and customer experience.
Besides that, 88 percent of APAC retailers plan to support buy online and pick up in store within the next four years to increase omni-channel shopping.
"The retail industry is experiencing a convergence of the physical and online worlds, which we call 'phygital'. Shoppers today are technology-savvy and have high expectations for a digital and connected shopping experience, creating both challenges and opportunities for retailers vying for sales on all platforms," said Ryan Goh, Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, Zebra Technologies.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.