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What Retailers Told Us at NRF

A lot of people and organizations like to gauge the retail industry.  I know of several studies which aim to tell us what retailers are thinking.  Interestingly, very few studies have asked the ultimate source, the retailers, their opinion on their own industry.

ACI did just that with a survey of attendees at the NRF 2013 show and I think it turned up some interesting results, specifically around the topics of compliance and mobile payment.  The survey found out that:

• Retailers believe the industry is struggling with compliance
• Mobile adoption is expected to continue
• Retailers see customer privacy and fraud as primary concerns when adopting a mobile strategy

Compliance was one of my key takeaways from the survey results.  With 53% of respondents claiming that the industry is not ready for EMV and 63% saying the it is not ready for PCI, it poses the question, is the industry adequately prepared for the future, or is the word just not getting out?

The news on mobile is encouraging. With 83% of retailers expecting the rate of implementation of contactless POS terminals to increase in the coming year, it appears mobile payment options are gaining traction.  There are still some areas which need to be addressed.  The costs of POS infrastructure were reported by 25% of survey respondents as a major concern.  This space is continuing to expand, so it is good to balance between the demand of the consumer and the need of the business.

Not surprisingly, customer privacy at 43% and the potential for fraud 25% rank high on the list.  This indicates that retailers want to make a more holistic customer experience by keeping pace with innovations and customer trends, but are aware of the dangers of acting recklessly. It is reassuring to see that retailers are willing to invest in new technology to remain competitive but in a manner that’s practicable.

Overall, the show sentiment indicates retailers know they need to offer a seamless omnichannel experience, but may be behind the curve in the execution of such a plan. So how should retailers move toward bringing this offering to their customers? How does their strategy in brick and mortar tie in with their online presence? How to keep up with the ever growing demand of the consumer?  Those questions remain to be answered.