Major Retail Challenges and Technological Ways to Address Them

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Want to learn how to make your retail store more profitable and give it a competitive edge in today’s environment? You should definitely watch out for top retail trends and technological advancements that can help you address challenges in your business in 2022 and beyond.

Digital Adoption

Periods of lockdown necessitated a shift towards online services for many customers, especially for slow digital adopters. Recent research shows that a quarter of consumers aged over 65 noted there was a permanent change in how they shop, use banking apps, etc., which is three times the proportion of Gen Zs. The dependency on digital touchpoints throughout the customer journey has grown rapidly, forcing retailers to re-imagine their propositions and align to a new set of customer expectations.

For more information on banking applications and their role in boosting your UX, read the article at

Rebalancing Physical Retail

The majority of retail sales remain in physical destinations, but the distribution has obviously changed. Retail parks will continue to hold up better than high streets, shopping centers, and city center locations throughout 2022. As people are going to remain nervous about viruses, they will continue to work more from home and rely on retail parks offering that convenient click-and-collect destination. The purpose of retail stores will continue to change by the day as consumers demand a more digitally centric customer journey that seamlessly incorporates digital touchpoints within a physical environment that boosts convenience.

The popularity of retail e-commerce platforms will also continue to grow. More retail websites and online stores will offer a more mobile-friendly experience to their customers by optimizing their operations with dedicated apps or mobile-friendly designs. With AI and ML’s help, retail businesses will also succeed in creating a more personalized real-time user experience, which will make shopping even more convenient.

Supply Chain Disruption

The pandemic has really highlighted the fragility of complex global supply chains. So, experts are expecting to see ongoing issues persist throughout 2022. Key challenges will be around rising costs for transport and labor, additional red tape caused by duties, levies, shortage of haulers, and disruption at some countries’ borders. Stock availability will continue to be challenging, and it could be exacerbated by businesses that are looking to build up their stock and reduce the reliance on just-in-time models. That’s where technology can come in and save the day again. As practice shows, more and more companies tend to adopt 5G and AI-powered solutions to improve flexibility in their supply chain. And even more, tools are poised to be employed in the near future. Blockchain technology also shows a lot of promise in speeding up automation in distribution centers and predicting possible bottlenecks in their supply chains.

Path to Net Zero Emission

There will be much more pressure for businesses to provide greater transparency around carbon emissions including ambitious and measurable targets. And a lot of listed retailers around the world don’t even have a net-zero target. There will be more pressure from governments, consumers, investors, and also from within businesses to be seen doing the right thing. Large businesses will put more pressure on their suppliers to be transparent about CO2 emissions, and their performance and ambitions will become a more important factor in the choice of suppliers for retailers. The shortest route to net zero is AI technologies, which can go a long way in providing up-to-the-minute, reliable information about their carbon and supply chain emissions. Due to its ability to process huge amounts of data and forecast probable outcomes, AI tools will be more popular among net-zero business decision-makers in retail.

Protecting Profitability

Retail profitability has always been under immense pressure. Over the last decades, pre-tax profits have almost halved for large retailers. The combination of rising costs, fierce competition, and the shift towards online have been very taxing on margins. The shift towards online in particular has left more retailers with physical outlets than they could commercially justify. They’re often tied to inflexible lease structures, which inhibits their ability to pivot business models as quickly as they require. At the same time, heavy investment is going to be needed to make online operations more efficient. This can come in the form of automated dispatch processes, hiring big data scientists and financial software company experts, or having more complex marketing campaigns. The digital shift will create new challenges throughout the entire value chain, and additional costs at each stage.


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