Ecommerce platforms are the biggest investment priority for retailers over the coming year, with half (53%) stating that they will invest in this area, according to a new report by Tofugear.

Point of sale (POS) solutions (51%) were the next two major investment priorities as retailers look to incorporate new features such as AI-driven personalised recommendations. For those retailers that have begun to apply AI to their business, the main applications have been in machine learning (55%) and chatbots (54%), both of which were slightly ahead of image and video analytics (45%).

When it comes to the operational parts of the business where AI is being deployed, there are two key areas of focus: marketing (65%) and online operations (60%). These are customer-facing applications where arti­ficial intelligence is already delivering on its promise, for instance through personalisation or facial recognition.

When it comes to customer-facing innovations, consumers in Asia can expect more retailers to adopt scan-and-go solutions, with 50% of respondents indicating that they are considering investment in this technology. Same day deliveries (38%) and in-store shoppable screens (33%) are also high on retailers’ to-do-lists.

Philip Wiggenraad, head of Research at Tofugear noted that retailers in Asia are aware of the need to innovate as consumers expect to be able to buy whenever and wherever they want.

“The good news for shoppers in Asia is that retailers are focusing on innovations that enhance the customer experience and offer increased convenience. While technologies such as drone deliveries and in-store robots might generate bigger headlines, their impact on the overall experience is currently still limited,” he said.

The report also found that only a third of retailers (36%) believe that they set the standard for digital transformation. Meanwhile, half (51%) admit that their investment in digital initiatives is influenced by what their competitors are doing.

Respondents also said the single biggest challenge faced by their business is the ability to achieve omnichannel retail.

Retailers are increasingly turning to partnerships with technology companies to drive digital initiatives. Nearly four in five retailers are using such partnerships – mainly to gain access to new technologies (60%) and to respond more quickly to market challenges (44%). Yet, retailers also admit that they have difficulties in finding the right partner and have concerns over the sharing of sensitive data with third parties.

“Retailers that embrace change will be a step ahead of the competition. Those that partner with technology companies can move faster and will be the ones setting the standard that the rest of the industry follows,” said Wiggenraad.

The findings are based on a survey among 150 retail executives across 12 markets in Asia, conducted by Tofugear in partnership with Global Payments, Microsoft and TrendWatching.

Sourced from Tofugear