Despite another difficult year of high inflation and rising interest rates, retailers and wholesalers are ploughing ahead with their strategies. Interestingly, Gartner® has found that the largest growth area for planned investment is technology to manage frontline employees. 

Retail CIOs’ technology priorities – and the role for HR and payroll 

Since 2021 and post-pandemic retailing, retail CIOs have been spending their budgets on a variety of initiatives aimed at improving customer experiences, enhancing digital capabilities, and strengthening cybersecurity.   

However, in 2023 it has been widely recognised that many people who were working in frontline retail and wholesale pre-pandemic, have not returned. For senior HR professionals, this has created an issue they are looking to creatively backfill by making working in retail more attractive and longer term.   

When retail CIOs were asked which store technologies would get more in 2023, the largest increase was in store portfolio regarding human labour. Intention to boost funding for this type of technology has risen by 15 percentage points, from 32% in 2022 to 47% in 2023. This increase is at least 8 percentage points larger than any other. 

Cybersecurity/information security remains top of the overall investment priority list. According to Gartner®, 68% of those interviewed stated that funding in this area will increase.  

Retail CIOs and HR technology – key considerations 

The increasing interest in HR technology from IT decision-makers is likely to call for greater collaboration between people management, payroll, and technology departments. Some key considerations include: 

    • Integration: Adopting effective solutions that align with existing systems will boost efficiency and maximise the benefits of new technologies. 
    • Shared vision: Cross-department alignment on overall goals and objectives is essential to ensure a cohesive approach that delivers a return on investment. 
    • Competing stakeholder expectations: Naturally, different parties will have differing expectations, so address this challenge carefully. 
    • Artificial intelligence (AI): AI is likely to be high on the agenda. When asked ‘which technology is most likely to be implemented by 2025?’, 94% of CIOs cited AI and machine learning (ML). 

    How will AI impact retail and wholesale? 

    Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a significant role in the future of the retail and wholesale industries: from automating routine tasks to enhancing customer experiences and improving business operations.  

    So, here are five ways in which AI could impact the retail and wholesale industries: 

    1. Personalisation

    AI can help retailers and wholesalers better understand their customers’ preferences and behaviours, enabling them to offer more personalised experiences and recommendations. 

    2. Inventory management

    AI-powered systems can help retailers and wholesalers optimise inventory levels and reduce waste by predicting demand and streamlining supply chain operations. 

    3. Customer service

    AI chatbots and virtual assistants can help retailers and wholesalers provide fast and efficient customer support, reducing wait times and improving satisfaction levels. 

    4. Pricing and promotions: AI-powered pricing algorithms can help retailers and wholesalers optimise their pricing strategies based on factors such as customer demand, competitor pricing, and market trends. 

    5. Fraud detection: AI can help retailers and wholesalers detect and prevent fraud by analysing customer data and identifying patterns of suspicious behaviour. 

    Overall, AI has the potential to transform the retail and wholesale industries by driving efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing the customer experience. 

    However, it’s important for businesses to approach AI adoption carefully and ethically, considering potential risks and biases. They should harness the technology to benefit both the business and its customers. 

    Discover how Zellis’ market-leading payroll and HR software makes a difference for top retailers.