Profitect Inc., a prescriptive analytics provider for the retail industry, has published its top retail technology predictions for 2016. Following its 2015 user conference, the company compiled the key learnings from attendees to forecast how savvy retailers will adopt a controlled profit model and migrate into becoming profit centres in 2016, thanks to margin expansion techniques. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

As omnichannel has retailers buzzing, success will come from a true customer-centric approach to business, and Profitect predicts that smart retailers will look to the following five key retail tech strategies in 2016 to get ahead of the competition:

  1. In 2016, retailers will improve "tasking out" processes: Leveraging resources with smart retail technology like prescriptive analytics will improve margin expansion, cross sell and upsell and promotional execution. For example, retailers will go beyond processing in-store returns via an e-commerce purchase; associates will use this opportunity to make an additional sale while the shopper is in-store. Technology will allow associates to spend less time analysing and more time executing on servicing customers.
  2. Lower traffic will demand better retail conversion both on-site and online in the New Year: While in-store shopping is still most popular, it will continue to slightly decline in 2016. E-commerce stores didn't move product fast enough to close the gap in 2015 and this will continue on in the New Year. Brands need to increase conversions both in-store and online, ensure the customer experience is consistent to keep the impulse buys from web applications (Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) while converting to in-store to keep profits growing.
  3. There will be greater transparency between customers and retailers in the year ahead: Customers expect the same experience both in-store and online. For example, customers want to be able to see and compare inventory in-store just like they can when online, and retailers will ramp up efforts to make this a seamless process in 2016, using solutions that ensure the integrity of their inventory both in stores and in warehouses alike.
  4. Localisation will reign supreme in 2016: Customers want to know the easiest and fastest way to access retailers and products. Tools like prescriptive analytics will help retailers better meet shopper demands in real-time by having the products they want available as they need them.
  5. Prescriptive analytics solutions will help retailers better understand customer demand, both on line and in-store: 2016 will be the year retailers move beyond traditional business intelligence (BI) and understand the need to make data more actionable to gain crucial consumer insights and become more efficient. Retailers will look to solutions like prescriptive analytics to foster this shift.

In 2016, the company predicts, successful retailers will convert the customer-centric trend into an opportunity for increased sales and profit. By leveraging prescriptive analytics and working with solutions like Profitect that extend or replace current BI and exception based reporting tools, retailers will be well positioned for success in the year ahead.