Retailers Put Operational Efficiency at Top of Technology Agendas

A new report from Incisiv finds that operators expect to see a large increase in automation over the next few years.
Retail technology in warehouse with backstock

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Retailers are prioritizing investments in technologies that improve operational efficiency to reduce costs and increase profitability, according to the 2023 Connected Retail Experience Study, conducted by Incisiv in collaboration with Verizon Business.

The study found that real-time inventory management has risen to the top of the investment agenda in the face of the uncertain supply chain issues over the last few years. It also found that the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) for improving operations will also likely increase. 

Other findings from the report include:

  • The use of AI to improve operations is projected to increase by a factor of nine by 2025.
  • Mobile point-of-sale and curbside pickup sensors will significantly increase deployment across all retailers.
  • While the deployment of robotics for associate tasks is still relatively low, it will increase over the next few years, particularly among grocery and general merchandise retailers.

The study also shows that retailers anticipate a significant increase in automation and expect up to 70 percent of routine tasks to be partially or fully automated by 2025. They expect to leverage the labor and productivity benefits by redeploying associates to customer-facing high-value tasks or to support business operations.

"Improving operational efficiency is crucial for retailers in today's competitive landscape," said Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer at Incisiv. "Automation is imminent, and retailers must embrace it to streamline processes and reduce costs."

However, the increased adoption of cloud applications, increased customer devices and increased in-store associate devices will test the store network's ability to handle additional traffic, particularly when it comes from devices that require low latency and process bandwidth-heavy files, according to the report.

"As the number of mobile and connected devices continues to accelerate in stores, the need for faster speeds, less network downtime and a better ability to manage peak traffic will become more critical," said Scott Lawrence, senior vice president of global solutions at Verizon Business. "The key is to build a network architecture that will give in-store applications access to the right bandwidth at the right time and enable them to scale up or down as needed."

The full report can be downloaded here.

Incisiv is an industry insights firm that helps retailers and brands navigate digital disruption in their industry. 

Founded in 2000 and headquartered in New York, Verizon Communications Inc. is a leading provider of technology and communications services, with revenues of $136.8 billion as of 2022.