Helping to drive consumers' behaviour today are new technologies that allow shoppers access to near-limitless information about retailer products and services. Shoppers  – especially younger Generation Y consumers aged 20 to 30 years –  also are increasingly using social media and alternative channels to communicate with and about their retailers.

Consumers now expect on-demand access to the information, products and services they want, and those retailers who deliver what they demand will thrive. Those who don't will fall by the wayside.

Such an attitude is having an impact on retailers. According to "Meeting the Demands of the Smarter Consumer," an in-depth study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, 41 percent of people surveyed have either switched from one primary retailer to another or started purchasing some goods from a secondary retailer during the past year.

Technology is reshaping the store, as well. Kiosks now offer the ability for consumers to easily order specialty items that may not be in the store's inventory and have those items shipped directly to their homes. Coded shelf tags allow consumers to snap a photo of a bar code and instantly have information about a particular product downloaded to their smartphones. Self-checkout units allow consumers to scan and pay for their purchases, allowing retailers to redeploy sales associates to better interact with customers, answering questions and offering additional products and services.

This increase in consumer knowledge and desire to interact in a more personalised manner is forcing retailers to rethink how they deliver on the promise of their brand through various self-service touchpoints all of which must now be fully integrated.

This research guide, sponsored by IBM, looks at retail in-store technology today, how it's being used and where it may be headed.



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