Only 27% of retailers say IT infrastructure is able to support customer experience improvements

Zynstra research reveals challenges in distributed store IT environments.


Less than one-third of retailers in the UK and US say their IT infrastructure is fully able to support plans to improve the in-store customer experience. This is according to research commissioned by Zynstra, an award-winning software provider of intelligent edge infrastructure, purpose built for the retail store. ​ A further 20% said they had to delay or reject a roll out of new in-store applications as a result of IT limitations, costs or concern, and 98% of retailers said they would roll out new applications and services if it was easier to do so.

The research, conducted on behalf of Zynstra by independent survey specialist Censuswide, polled 308 retail IT decision makers in the US and UK. The aim of the research was to gauge the environment in which retailers operated, the challenges faced and the attitude toward the role of IT.

“In the retail space, particularly the retail store, IT must play a critical role, not only improving the efficiency of operations, but also enabling innovation and application roll out to drive enhanced customer experiences. What this research has revealed is that IT decision makers have low confidence when it comes to the ability of their current infrastructure to actually fulfil this role,” says Nick East, CEO, Zynstra.​

The research identified a number of challenges when it came to rolling out new applications and services — budget being the most cited (48%). In addition, 35% of retailers said they found delivering consistency of in-store versus online experience difficult, while 35% also identified the lack of local store IT skills as an issue. A further challenge was that less than half of respondents (49%) said they were easily able to make changes and upgrades across all branches, while 32% said they actually managed each store as a separate IT installation.

Despite these challenges, attitudes toward preparedness for seasonal events like Black Friday and Christmas were more positive. 43% felt they were very prepared when it came to the roll out of seasonal promotions, while 39% felt very prepared to deal with the roll out of customer experience applications during this time.

“It is clear that IT decision makers in the retail space are going the extra mile to support customer experience improvement initiatives and respond to seasonal demands, despite facing significant challenges. “But best efforts and squeezing the last drops of performance out of existing infrastructure is no longer good enough.  With the customer experience, and particularly the in-store customer experience, fast becoming the key competitive differentiator, it is clear that retailers need a more effective way for IT to support improvement initiatives. At Zynstra, we believe this is best provided by an intelligent edge infrastructure with end to end management and control. “concludes East.


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