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Technology/Services

Is Your IT Infrastructure Enough?

Many c-stores unable to handle peak traffic and seasonal changes, study says
Photograph: Shutterstock

BATH, England — Only 37% of U.S. convenience-store retailers said their current IT infrastructure is capable of handling peak periods of consumer checkout, according to a study from software provider Zynstra.

The study identifies key priorities and obstacles c-store retailers face as they work to deliver better customer experiences at a reduced operational cost. Survey provider Censuswide conducted the study on behalf of Zynstra, based in Bath, England. The study found that the majority of c-store retailers can offer only the most basic functions, given the limitations of current IT infrastructure and the difficulty of bringing new technology into the stores.

The study found that 49% of respondents’ main in-store IT challenge is the high cost and risk of downtime associated with a potential rip-and-replace of its entire c-store infrastructure to bring it up to date.

When asked about rolling out seasonal promotions, more than half (55%) of respondents said their IT infrastructure is somewhat or not very prepared.

These issues point to a lack of IT efficiency, which the study found is a priority for c-store retailers. Most respondents (39%) said their key IT priorities are to upgrade customer loyalty programs or to improve staff productivity through technology. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said their key IT priority is to reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies.

In response to the rise of frictionless checkout and omnichannel convenience, retailers are identifying key technologies that are important to the future of their business, according to the report. More than 40% of respondents listed scan-and-go, a mobile payment app, ordering at the pump, online ordering and in-store pickup as very important technologies.

The study found that retailers are unsure of how to proceed with their point-of-sale (POS) systems given the rise of alternative checkout technologies, such as frictionless checkout. Nearly one-quarter (21%) of respondents are seeking a way to keep their legacy POS system running with minimal costs to buy time as they analyze how checkout behavior evolves. Most respondents (25%) have decided they need to make POS investments now to adjust to changing customer behavior, but 18% feel that they have the exact POS infrastructure that will serve their business now and in the future.

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