By Aimee Chanthadavong

Data transparency and a seamless multi-channel experience are what customers want and what retailers need to cater for in order to succeed in the changing environment, according to Deloitte.

In its third annual Tech Trends report, Elevate IT for Digital Business, Deloitte has highlighted that IT will lead businesses in performance growth this year and beyond.

Robert Hillard, Deloitte Consulting technology lead partner, told RetailBiz there is a convergence of technology-centric forces that are offering a new set of tools and opening the door to a new set of rules for operations, performance and competition. 

For example, based on the study, Deloitte found consumers were likely to respond better to providing personal information if they were able to see how their information was going to be used. As a result, retailers are encouraged to provide transparency back to individuals.

Hillard said consumers want traceability and it has only been in the last two years where technology has been able to meet that demand.

“It’s been those retailers who have been using those loyalty programs where they can provide transparency to the consumer of how their data is used and show consumers what the value of their information is to a business. For example, the travel alliances have been able to communicate and make their customer a full partner in the technology so this is where we have seen the greatest return on investment,” Hillard said.

“So for businesses it’s about understanding the complexity of data and asking the question of how can I match it in my processes and how do I provide transparency back to individuals about how their data is being used.”

Similarly, consumers identify better with brands if they are let inside the enterprise. Deloitte said Australians increasingly expect all organisations they deal with to let them inside the enterprise and give them many of the same privileges that were previously only the domain of customer service staff through the use of ‘digital identities’.

 “If you look at the purpose of a brand is to get them to identify with a brand but the most effective brands is encouraging buying of that brand,” Hillard said.

“This is one of the reasons why social media has evolved into a social business over the last year. People buy into something that they have had a say in shaping. It actually doesn’t matter how little that say was like even if they did nothing more than vote for what style of clothing or what the nature of advertising was going to be, they will still see that as taking a level of ownership.

“In addition to that, the constant evolvement by customers in the development of products is infinitely more powerful than one off polling. Traditionally, its been done with focus groups but we’ve seen that you can do it with larger groups of customers actually actively shaping new products. Now for stores, they can look at engaging customers in the store layout in how they want to interact with stores. And what technology has done is make that process much faster than sending a piece of paper out.”

The report also indicated that Australian retailers have been slow to make their online systems core to their processes and are making-up for lost time using the ‘outside in’ architecture through hyper hybrid clouds. The reason for this is because disproportionally retailers have tried to develop online services that are separate from their existing backend IT system but this has turned customer-off as they find it frustrating to deal with, turning customers off from trusting online systems.

“It should be seamless experience no matter where the customer is looking from reading a catalogue on their mobile device, on the web at home or making a phone call in-store. That sounds like a lot of work but the good news about hyper hybrid clouds while we are asking people to break down barriers we are also reducing the amount of things they need to do on their website,” Hillard said.

“We’re not asking for a retail store to no longer manage anything other than the catalogue that they’re responsible for. We’re encouraging every type of business to develop joint ventures and allow their partners to own the technology functions that they are responsible for. That means when I go to do delivery I wouldn’t need to deal with the technology of the retailer I will be dealing with the technology of the logistics provider who is doing the delivery. Increasingly, when I go make my payment I’m not dealing with the technology of the retailer but of the financial institution.”