In the age of omnichannel retailing, optimising digital performance is key to winning, says Claranet

AWS and Claranet will discuss retail optimisation at a joint event at the AWS Auditorium, London, on 9 February

With ecommerce and mobile both acting as a significant driving force for retailers over 2016 and especially during the Christmas period, it is apparent that the capacity to continually optimise IT operations is now a key competitive differentiator in the retail sector. This is according to Claranet, which is hosting a joint event with Amazon Web Services (AWS) on 9 February to discuss how retailers can gain competitive advantage in this fast-paced environment.

The need for continual optimisation will only continue to grow in importance as technological developments such as the Internet of Things, predictive analytics, and machine learning all shape an increasingly personalised experience for consumers.

Online spending rose by 16 per cent in 2016, reaching £133billion, according to research from IMRG and Capgemini. Of this total, a significant proportion was spent in the weeks leading up to Christmas - £25billion. The Christmas period also saw mobile continue its rapid growth as a shopping tool, with mobile purchases up 47 per cent year-on-year.

Sam Bashton, Head of the Claranet Cloud Practice, commented on the significance of these trends:

There is now unparalleled convenience for consumers, allowing them to make purchases at any time from any place – and growing ecommerce sales indicates how well this offer is resonating. However, it is this very promise of convenience that puts such pressure on retailers – as consumers become more accustomed to the ease of shopping like this, their tolerance for technical issues and delays will decrease. This puts a competitive premium on ensuring that IT systems are agile and scalable enough to deliver a seamless experience.”

Referring to Claranet’s own work with a fast-fashion brand, Bashton spoke of the strategic importance of continuously optimising IT operations:

For disruptive brands, to be competitive you need to be ready to constantly sharpen IT performance in order to deliver the seamless experience that consumers expect.”

In its own research, Claranet found that 48 per cent of retailers consider optimisation to be their biggest IT challenge over the next 5 years, as opposed to 39 per cent of other organisations. Bashton commented on why this might be the case: “As a result of technological developments the future of retail looks increasingly personalised, continuous, and immersive. Augmented and Virtual Reality and the Internet of Things will all be deployed to enhance the in-store experience and to make home shopping more enjoyable and more seamless.

Bashton concluded: "Retailers should begin developing this approach of continuous optimisation now, so that they can better take advantage of ecommerce's current benefits and future developments. I look forward to discussing the topic further at the retail event with AWS on Thursday 9th February."

To register for Claranet’s event – Relentless optimisation: the new normal – and for the full agenda, visit us here.