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Artificial Intelligence on the High Street – Tackling the Skills Shortage

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A new report from VoucherCodes.co.uk and WBR Insights shows that retailers are struggling to find the requisite talent within the business to make sure that they are at the cutting edge of innovation. Competition for the best people in the industry is fierce – unsurprisingly, recruitment is the second largest challenge facing retailers today in terms of creating a personalised experience. Recruitment is considered the second biggest challenge facing retailers today when it comes to creating a personalised experience (after creating an omnichannel experience).

Retailers are collating more data than ever before. However, the challenge is knowing what to do with data when you have it, linking directly back to having the right expertise in your organisation. Modern e-commerce operations create a deluge of data that can be overwhelming; retailers need both the right systems and the right people to be able to turn this into insights that can drive growth and revenue on the high street.

Investing in innovation

The report also revealed retailers priorities for tech investment, highlighting potential areas for growth over the next five years. Unsurprisingly, AI technology looks set for continued growth as it was deemed the second most important area for tech investment, behind traditional mobile applications.  Meanwhile, 27% of retailers confirmed that they had invested in Augmented Reality (AR) technology over the last 12 months as retailers rush to engage consumers both in-store and via mobile.

Other top priorities included:

  • 37% of retailers confirmed that they had invested in Virtual Reality technology over the last 12 months
  • 38% have already introduced virtual assistants and 53% are planning on doing so
  • 44% of retailers surveyed offer AI powered chatbots to help shoppers; 54% are planning to in the next five years

Revolutionising the in-store experience

Over the past five years retailers have continued to invest in expanding and improving the in-store experience to increase customer loyalty. As the popularity of the traditional physical store fades, high street retailers have come under increasing pressure to compete with the ease and stress-free experience that online shopping offers.

The VoucherCodes.co.uk report clearly indicates that retailers believe technology will give them the edge they need to drive further footfall in-store. 67% of retailers confirmed they are already using geofence technology to connect online shopping to the high street; while a further 33% are planning to do so within the next five years.

Jimmy New, Director of Marketing at VoucherCodes.co.uk commented:

“These latest figures highlight how retailers are continuing to adapt to the growth of online and mobile spending. Technology and digital investment will be key to ensure this growth does not come at the expense of traditional high street spend, as Artificial Intelligence and other popular innovations transform the shopping experience.

“To remain competitive and respond to customer demands, it is more vital than ever for retailers to evolve their in-store and online offering and create a sense of occasion and experience.  Fortunately, thanks to the rapid developments in both AI and AR technology, retailers can create an even more immersive experience for customers – helping them to build stronger connections and encourage loyalty.

“At VoucherCodes.co.uk we work with thousands of retailers and brands to ensure they can effectively harness the power of technology and personalisation to create a focused and customer-centric approach to their marketing. Whilst the future of the high street remains unpredictable, over the next 12 months we expect to see retailers continue to invest in tech and mine for more intelligent data to create a more personalised approach. AI, AR and many other exciting developments will no doubt be at the forefront of upcoming changes; however, meeting customer needs and expectations will be what drives activity and investment moving forward.”

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