RSR Research Agenda Calendar
- Survey Release: Jun-2019
- Report Release: Oct-2019 View Report
Practical Retail Uses For The Internet of Things
For retailers, the Internet of Things (“IoT”) remains an innovation that keeps waiting to take off.Every year since 2015, RSR has benchmarked retailers’ attitudes about the business value of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
But even after 5 years, one out of every two retailers admits they simply have no idea how IoT will impact their own operations in the next three years. There’s a fundamental disconnect between how the retail industry sees the opportunities vs. how the technology world sees them.
But it’s not hopeless; Over-performing “Retail Winners” see opportunities to use IoT technologies to track customer flow nearby and in stores in order to improve time to service, improve operational efficiencies, and importantly to help their companies improve how they manage their inventories.
Read the report to learn our current findings!
- Survey Release: Nov-2019
- Report Release: Feb-2020
The Retail Supply Chain: Flexibility from Design And Sourcing To Customer Delivery
Fashion & Specialty retailers and brand managers in the US have become accustomed to sourcing product a half a world away. Even as companies like Zara are proving to do well by sourcing close to the point of demand, US retailers and brand managers, for the most part insist on sourcing from the Far East, with an emphasis on China. This creates a situation where the buyer is incented to place large, safe bets. And that leads to boring offerings, markdowns and over-stocks.
The industry has labored under the assumption that near-sourcing would not be as effective. In the new retail world where speed-to-market is essential. In fact, in the early 2000’s it seemed they are correct.But is that assumption still a reality, or is it simply inertia? Technology has improved in the areas of Product Lifecycle Management and production status.Shouldn’t that have helped? This research will seek out to uncover the perceptions of US brand managers and retailers and counterpoint them with the attitudes and capabilities of factories located in the western hemisphere.
We will also glean attitudes about if and how retailers and their partners are deploying new technologies to enable visibility in the supply chain from “supply to revenue” in something approaching real-time. Where is that kind of visibility needed? What stands in the way?
RSR’s 2020 Supply Chain benchmark will offer a first-of-its-kind 360° look at the fashion & specialty supply chain from the perspectives of both retailers and their manufacturing partners.
- Survey Release: Dec-2019
- Report Release: Feb-2020
The Online Customer Experience: Are Retailers Delivering What Customers Are Looking For?
There have been endless conversations across the retail ecosystem seeking to find ways to make the in-store experience “more like the web.” Retailers are convinced that the online experience is far better than the in-store one, and continue to add digital elements to their stores. In fact, they cite this in other studies as one of their best opportunities for success. In the meanwhile, they continue to enhance their websites to be more effective and mobile-friendly.
But this all begs the question: What do customers think? Is the online Customer Experience really what customers want? Is it personal enough or personally intrusive?Is it curated enough or not curated enough?
RSR analysts have decided we want to find out and share that information with retailers and vendors alike.
- Survey Release: Nov-2019
- Report Release: Feb-2020
The Real Role Of Robotic Automation In Retail
There is no shortage of media hype over the promise that robotic automation can bring to all kinds of business applications in the future. But what does this really mean for retail? Specifically, how do retailers perceive the improvements robotic automation will make to their supply chains – and are they acting on these options now ? If so, in what capacity – and if not, why not?
We also want to dive heavily into retailers’ viewpoints on what these technologies mean for stores, themselves. Robotics are steadily finding their way into real-world use cases in stores right now – what does the next phase of this evolution look like?
To answer these questions, RSR will survey retailers to gain an understanding of their current perception and activity surrounding automated systems. We will also uncover their views for the future.
The resulting report will examine the challenges, opportunities, internal inhibitors, and technology enablers affecting the implementation of robotic automation in the retail industry. As this is the first study of its kind, RSR will pay especially close attention to gross margin trends to gain insight into those practices making the most difference to retailer performance.
- Survey Release: Jan-2020
- Report Release: Apr-2020
The Store: Meet BORIS & BOPIS: The Profitability Twins
As online retailers offer faster and faster shipping, who knew Buy Online/Pickup In Store would become so popular? But it is – and retailers are embracing it as a means to leverage one of the few things they have that Amazon doesn’t – STORES – and compete in a most immediate way.
At the same time, legions of consumers are normalizing shopping behaviors that not too long ago would have caused retailers to “fire” them as shoppers: buying troves of products online, only to use their own living rooms as the point of decision and returning the majority of items to their nearest store. Again, while many still perceive returning to a store easier than boxing up and shipping goods back to the online source, this trend capitalizes on the shopper’s immediacy.
While both trends get shoppers into the store (a good thing, indeed) both also create VAST logistical complexity for retailers.
Here’s the thing: they’d better get used to it, because BORIS & BOPIS are a shining opportunity for profitability in the Amazon-dominated world.
What are the best steps retailers see to get there? And what are the biggest challenges they perceive coming at them from shoppers?
At the same time, we will survey shoppers to see what they think matters most, and how retailers are meeting their needs.
This will be the first time we’ve ever conducted a study like this, and we are extremely excited about it.
- Survey Release: Mar-2020
- Report Release: Jun-2020
Merchandising: Can Agility And Sustainability Work Together?
Until very recently, fast fashion was the darling of the retail industry, and was given credit for the demise of the moderate-priced department store. But in the past year, it has become apparent that the bloom is off the fast fashion rose. H&M was forced to deal with a billion dollar inventory problem at the end of 2018, and Forever 21 declared bankruptcy in late September 2019.
We know that the rapid turnover of fast fashion styles has created significant environmental impact. It has also become apparent that across other retail verticals and price points, sustainability is becoming a real issue.Most recently, luxury retailer Kerig vowed to become carbon neutral, following in the footsteps of Gucci, who announced similar efforts in 2015.
Then there’s the matter of food. The FDA has reported,”…In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This estimate, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on society:
Wholesome food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills.
Land, water, labor, energy and other inputs are used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food.”
This begs two questions: First: Do retailers recognize the extent of changing consumer opinions on environmental concerns? And second: How serious are consumers about sustainability vs. low-priced offerings? They may talk the talk, but do they actually walk the walk? We aim to find out.
- Survey Release: Apr-2020
- Report Release: Jul-2020
Making Stores Great Again
Don’t let the title fool you: there is no political angle to our 2020 store research. There is, however, a desire to help uncover what it will take to make stores exciting places for consumers to shop once more.
Since 2008, RSR has been surveying retailers to learn about the challenges and opportunities they face in stores. Our last report, in 2019, revealed that they were struggling to know what customers want most: is it new stores in different locations? Totally different store formats than what they’re used to (more AI/AR in stores, more services provided in stores, popup locations, etc)? Or is it something more – after all, if the physical store needs a complete redesign, what are the must-have components and technologies a retailer can put in place?
So this year, we’re trying something brand new. We’ll still be surveying retailers, but we’ll also be surveying consumers to get their input. By doing so, our goal is to identify breaks in the current store offering, and find ways retailers can get shoppers off of Amazon, back into the store and by doing so – make stores great again.
- Survey Release: May-2020
- Report Release: Sep-2020
Getting Past The Hype – What Can AI Analytics Really Accomplish For Retailers?
In RSR’s 2019 study on the state of Innovation in Retail, we stated:
Retailers strongly agree that information is strategic to their businesses, even more than the value of experimenting with new concepts in the shopping experience. Information leads to insights, and insights lead to innovations.
This finding was reflective of indications that we found in earlier studies that retailers want to use information and analytics for more than record keeping. Next-generation analytics, made possible by new non-transactional data often gathered outside the “four walls” of the enterprise and data analysis engines like artificial intelligence, are becoming important as retailers extrapolate patterns in data to help them sense changes in the operational environment and respond appropriately in time to directly affect outcomes. Data visualization techniques “democratize” complex analyses, and operational processes can be infused with the results of insights derived from new data to automate certain decisions.All of these capabilities weren’t possible even ten years ago, and some of the technologies being used now weren’t generally available even in 2015, the last time that RSR studies BI & Analytics in Retail.
- Survey Release: Jul-2020
- Report Release: Oct-2020
The Cloud In Retail: Promises Made - Promises Kept?
Retailers have pretty completely bought into the Cloud Computing paradigm. The development backlog has IT practitioners raising their hands for help, and the need to push the “go faster” button to satisfy ever-changing consumer wants and needs, while lowering operational costs has Line of Business executives juiced over the concept as well.
Last year, in RSR’s inaugural Cloud computing benchmark, we found this to be true, but also found some potentially troubling signs. On the one hand, retailers seemed to believe that the Cloud could solve operational, process and data cleanliness and integration problems: in other words, that it would be a panacea for all the ailments that have plagued them for years. There were also some indications that communication of changes could be better and that functionality is not always as robust as it was in legacy on-premise systems.
Our goal this year is to see if retailer attitudes have matured, and if the vendor community in general is keeping the Cloud’s promise of agility and flexibility.
- Survey Release: Aug-2020
- Report Release: Nov-2020
Omnichannel: What Will Turn A Customer Away vs. What Will Keep Them Coming Back?
It is no secret that consumers are calling the shots in retail these days. But when they shop across all of the various touch points or channels a retailer might have (stores, desktop site, mobile site, mobile app, even social channels) – are they getting what they want?
We’ve been asking retailers to self-asses their efforts in omnichannel studies since 2008, and from their viewpoint, they’ve been doing an okay job. But now we want shoppers to weigh in, as well.
Are retailers holding up their end of the bargain? How converged is converged commerce these days? And when converged commerce breaks, how much do customers care – and what do they tend to do next?
- Survey Release: Sep-2020
- Report Release: Dec-2020
TBD #2: Now Welcoming Your Ideas
If you have a particular topic you'd like to see us cover, please let us know!
Past topics have included:
- Location Analytics
- C-Suite Careabouts
- Store Health Check
- Home Delivery Options
- Retail Disruptors
Let us know! Contact Linda Wolfe!