Wayne Snyder, vice-president for retail industry strategy EMEA at JDA Software, shares insight from new research that unlocks some surprising facts.

We all know retail is evolving. Buying behaviours are changing, with customers demanding greater flexibility in how they purchase and receive products, and consumer loyalty is now more focused on brands than retailers.

“Buying behaviours are changing, with customers demanding greater flexibility from how they purchase products”

With online shopping fuelling demand for ever greater convenience, retailers must react with agility to survive and thrive in a competitive and challenging market.

Blue Yonder, a JDA company, partnered with Microsoft to commission a survey of 200 major retailers in the UK, Germany and the US.

The research sought to understand how they are leveraging the latest technologies to achieve a competitive advantage and succeed in a competitive retail climate.

Next-generation tech

The research revealed that, in response to challenges such as shifting consumer loyalty and competition from online rivals, retailers are focusing on next-generation technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – to automate and optimise their core processes and deliver an improved customer experience.

“Automation can improve the customer experience, boost profitability, improve stock availability and reduce costs”

While retailers reported that core processes, such as replenishment and pricing, are overwhelmingly operated by manual intervention, they recognise that these processes require improvement and that they can gain multiple benefits from automation.

Not only can automation improve the customer experience, but retailers noted that it can boost profitability, improve stock availability and reduce costs.

Automation is key

A changing consumer: Shifting to a seamless omnichannel experience

  • 58% of retailers now enable items bought in-store to be delivered to a customer’s home.

The online challenge: Matching product availability and pricing

  • 51% of retailers report that competition from online retailers is the biggest challenge they face in running physical stores.

Automation: Optimising core processes to improve the customer experience

  • 58% of retailers report that automated replenishment has improved the customer experience, with 59% experiencing increased stock availability.

Artificial intelligence: Making retail smarter

  • 53% of retailers will be investing in AI and machine learning over the next 18 months.

Retailers recognise the potential for next-generation technology to help deliver an improved customer experience, with applications such as improving pricing strategy and replenishment at the top of their list of priorities for their AI investments.

And they expect to deploy AI solutions that can analyse data, draw out valuable insights and take decisions to automate core processes, in turn improving product availability, profitability and the customer experience.

Where are you on your AI journey?

Download The Smart Report 2018 to read the full insights from the survey findings. 


Wayne Snyder is vice-president for retail industry strategy EMEA at JDA Software