Amazon’s imminent Australian launch will transform the retail market in Australia – and ultimately New Zealand – but will also bring massive opportunities for the local IT reseller communities according to Frost & Sullivan.
Audrey William, Frost & Sullivan Australia and New Zealand head of research, says the local retail industry is undergoing ‘tremendous’ change.
“That’s because Amazon is setting up operations in Australia and that’s putting a lot of pressure on retailers in terms of how they have to deliver customer service, the way they have to engage with customers, the way they have to understand customers.
“As a result of that and the intense competition that is going to be seen in the local retail space in the next 12 to 18 months, we expect investments in customer service technologies will grow,” William says.
She says that growth will include ‘massive’ opportunities for customer service technologies, contact centre solutions, customer interaction solutions, customer contact testing platforms will become very important, AI, bots and big data.
“The bottom line is that the retailers will now be under immense pressure to transform themselves because Amazon comes with very sophisticated analytics, a very sophisticated way even of providing logistics and shipping.
“It’s how Amazon incorporates AI, big data, analytics and how they provide a very seamless experience for the customer and at the same time know how to delight the customer, taking them through the journey.”
William says while contact centre vendors have been pushing the omni-channel experience which includes inbound and outbound solutions along with email, analytics and voice recording, and the industry has been talking about it, that talk is yet to be fully acted on.
“Very few customers have realised it.
“But today you just have to make that happen, because competition is going to be so intense.”
Omni-channel also extends into artificial intelligence, bots and – in a world where data is the new currency – big data and analytics.
But Williams says for many, that’s just not a reality yet, with customers having to repeat information each time they use a new channel, many retailers not using apps yet, and even websites still lacking the sophistication they require, including AI, big data and chatbots that can even understand customers’ emotions.
“Retailers who do not change or who do not want to reinvent themselves in terms of having very strong and robust online experience and in-store experience, making it all encompassing for the customer, will lose out in this new era.”
William says each of the different segments within customer experience – inbound and outbound solutions, contact centre solutions, AI, bots, big data – can’t be treated in isolation, creating a potential headache for retailers – opening the doors for savvy IT resellers.
“Putting together all these pieces is a very complex journey for any retailer, but it is something that must be addressed,” she says.
“If retailers today are struggling to deploy the right technologies, have the right processes in place, make sure they incorporate the right technologies, having the right website experience, right mobile experience, they should also look at outsourcing these activities.”
William says key areas of investment over the coming 12 to 18 months include big data solutions, inbound and outbound contact centre technology, voice recording and performance optimisation solutions, along with AI and intelligent bots.
Contact centre testing platforms should also be ‘taken very seriously’, she adds.
“There is massive opportunity in terms of deploying all these technologies but also in offering advisory consultancy as well as managed services,” William says.
“There is a lot of opportunity. With Amazon coming to Australia, retailers will have to shape up, but it also means that the customer service industry is just going to see a massive rise in revenue.”
And while Amazon may not be hitting New Zealand shores just yet, William says New Zealand retailers – and the channel – will also be impacted.
“New Zealand retailers will learn from this in the next 12-18 months because once they see Amazon and how retailers have to reinvent themselves, they will take on some learnings and apply that to their own industries,” she says.
“Systems integrators, consulting houses, large service providers and contact centre outsourcing players have a lot of opportunity ahead.”