86% of APAC retailers mull ramping up intelligent automation

Retailers are looking to harness technologies like intelligent automation, cloud computing and mobility to drive economic growth, according to new study from Zebra Technologies.

Zebra’s 12th Annual Shopper Study surveyed over 6,300 global respondents, including over 1,200 respondents in the Asia Pacific region (retail executives, store associates and shoppers).

About nine in every 10 (88%) retailers agree that maintaining real-time inventory visibility is a significant challenge, and 85% say their companies need better inventory management tools to ensure accuracy.

Retailers also cite robot assistance (83%), smart check-out and real-time store IoT platforms (89%) as extremely important to their operations over the next five years.

Four in every five (81%) retailers plan to provide mobile ordering as a fulfilment option by 2021.

Also, seven in every 10 retailers are integrating social media within their ecosystem for digital native shoppers to provide feedback.

As businesses reopen and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, the resiliency of retailers and supply chains are being tested more now than ever before.

The frequency and volume of online spending on food has increased across the region, with consumers expressing a preference for self-checkout rather than assistance from cashiers for safe distancing.

Click-and-collect, or buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS), are becoming preferred methods of shopping, with 55% of consumers requesting more retailers to offer mobile ordering options. This is forcing businesses to rethink their fulfillment strategies given that only 36% of respondents agreed that their stores are equipped to fulfill web orders.

The study expects this trend to continue, while retailers implement additional solutions that minimise in-store contact and improve customer convenience at the same time.

“As demands continue to increase, retailers should prioritise the expansion of click-and-collect service offerings and invest in technologies which increases shopping capacity and speed,” said Fang-How Lim, regional director for Southeast Asia at Zebra Technologies.

Putting a mobile device into the hands of a retail associate simplifies tasks like inventory management, yet an estimated 64% of retail associates are not equipped to maximise the benefits of technology. 

The adoption of mobile point-of-sale solutions is expected to hit 98% by 2026, up from 76% today. The same trend is also observed for handheld mobile computers with scanners as retail associate device usage is expected to reach 96% by 2026, up from the current 75%.