Mikey Vu: Emerging Technologies for Retailers

Bain Partner Mikey Vu discusses how retailers can overcome technological barriers to win customers and manage costs.


Mikey Vu: Emerging Technologies for Retailers

More and more retailers are turning to new technologies to help improve the overall customer experience. Mikey Vu, a partner with Bain’s Retail practice, discusses the barriers these technologies present and how retailers can overcome them to delight customers and gain market share.

Read the transcript below.

MIKEY VU: Leading retailers are tapping into a number of emerging technologies in order to both delight their customers and drive up market share. They're using augmented reality and artificial intelligence to engage customers in a completely different way. They're using robotics, and they're also using computer vision in order to streamline their operations. And finally, they're also using voice-activated search as a new channel for customers to purchase things in a different way.

Unfortunately, retailers face some challenges, and there are mainly three of them. The first is that technology is extremely costly. And as a result, second, they have difficulty prioritizing where the investments go. They often scatter their investments around relatively randomly. And finally, integration at scale is very, very difficult. IT organizations are often not equipped or able to do that in a quick manner.

The good news is that retailers can follow some simple steps in order to overcome those barriers. One is to not just develop technology at the center. You need to be talking to your customers and your front line to understand their needs and what problems the technology is going to solve. The second is to set a strategy, stick to it and ruthlessly prioritize all your investments to be on point with that strategy. And the last one is to identify promising start-ups and vendors to partner with to accelerate the early stages of that innovation.

Once retailers have identified their backlog of exciting opportunities, the two things we always suggest in order to execute that is, number one, have a service-oriented IT architecture so that the technologies can easily plug into it. And the other is to adopt agile ways of working in order to increase the speed from idea to solution in a very short amount of time. By getting this process right, retailers can really turn their wish list of technologies into actual solutions that delight and excite their shoppers.


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