It's about the Customer, Stupid!

The top IT strategy for 2007 is customer-centricity, putting the customer at the forefront of retail technology plans, according to the 17th Annual Retail Technology Study, published by RIS News in partnership with Gartner Research. Leading adopters have been doing this for a few years, notes Jeff Roster, research vice president/global industries for Gartner and the study's chief analyst, but 2007 is the year when it emerges on the radar screens of mainstream retailing. "What's different now is the level of investment in technologies and strategies that focus on understanding and serving the customer better," says Roster. "This time around it is much more than a marketing slogan."

In support of the customer-centricity finding, Customer Satisfaction led the list for Results-Driven Tools or Strategies That Are Key Action Items in the Next 18 Months. "What is significant about the top response is that it was selected by 75% of respondents, which is more than 50% higher than the second option Workforce Efficiency," says Roster. Arriving at the same conclusion from a different angle, Store-Level Investment to Improve Customer Experience was chosen to lead the list for Top Challenges in Next Three Years.

Drilling down from high-level strategy to specific technologies, the study names The Top 10 Technology Initiatives for 2007: 1. Data Warehouse/Data Storage; 2. Workforce Management/Education & Training; 3. Assortment Planning; 4. Labor Scheduling; 5. Forecasting: 6. Standards-Based Platform; 7. Centralized Customer Data/Intelligence; 8. Workforce Optimization; 9. Services Oriented Architcture; and 10. Security & ID Management.

Findings from the Retail Technology Study will be previewed during an opening keynote session at the Retail Technology Conference on Thursday, April 19, at the Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida. This session will feature analysis from Jeff Roster and retailer insights from panel discussion that includes: Sharon Stufflebeme, vice president & CIO of 7-Eleven, Michael Jones, senior vice president & CIO for Michael's Stores, Maura Hart, director off merchandising & marketing systems, Winn-Dixie, and Eric Archuleta, president/CEO of Musician's Hut.

For those wishing to attend this presentation please click here.

For those who cannot attend the Retail Technology Conference, the Retail Technology Study will be featured during a Web seminar on April 26. For those wishing to attend this session, please click here.

The complete Retail Technology Study will be mailed to subscribers to RIS with the May issue.

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