Smarter Computing For Retailers
Retailers today are facing more technology-savvy, demanding customers and moresophisticated competitors, which are forcing them to transform their businessmodels. This transformation is being guided by three imperatives defining the retaillandscape: 1) deliver a smarter shopping experience; 2) develop smartermerchandising and supply networks; and 3) build smarter retail operations. Inresponse, retailers are becoming more customer-centric, which requires them totransform their information technology (IT) infrastructures. Forward-thinkingcompanies are moving quickly and strategically to embrace Smarter Computing, aprogressive approach to building IT infrastructures that return real business value.Smarter Computing enables retailers to connect with manufacturers, suppliers andconsumers globally for better real-time decision-making. Retailers embracingSmarter Computing are also finding that they can keep pace with their customers’changing buying preferences and demands, while realizing increased availability andresiliency of transaction systems, and lower operating costs.
THE RETAIL INDUSTRY ENVIRONMENT: SAVVY CUSTOMERSAND AGILE COMPETITORS
The retail environment across the globe is challenging retailers as changes inconsumer behavior interact with an unstable global economy, rapid advances intechnology, and increased competition and regulation. In some parts of the world,the economic recession has decreased consumers’ spending ability, but has notstopped it completely. In June 2011, for instance, the retail sales index decreasedby 0.4 percent in the Euro Zone, but in the U.S., retail sales posted a slight gain of 0.5 percent . There are also some signs that certain segments of the retail industry,such as apparel, are picking up. The economic mood in growth markets such asChina, India and Brazil is positive. Low unemployment and rising wages, coupledwith greater access to consumer credit, have fueled spending to the point thatgrowth markets are expected to account for 60 percent of world GDP by 2020 andcontribute significantly to world retail sales. This all suggests that consumersaround the world are becoming more conscious about their spending, which isforcing retail models to adapt.Retailers are also confronting the empowered consumer. The continued spread of mobile communications and the rapid rise of social networking have given consumersthe power to redefine their relationship to retailers. Armed with more informationand an ability to make purchases from virtually any Internet-connected device,consumers are better informed during the purchasing process. Whereas some retailwebsites provide consumers the ability to compare products and services, pervasivesocial media open up multiple forums for shoppers to post comments and makerecommendations about a retailer’s products, pricing or customer service. Theseconsumers are savvy and seek out the highest value for products and services, as well