Forever 21 recently made headlines after filing for bankruptcy and announcing plans to close as many as 350 stores. The move is the latest in a series of seemingly successful brick and mortar retailers admitting defeat in the face of omnichannel trends—JCPenney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Kmart and Sears are just a few of the big-name brands to announce significant store closings in 2019.
The continued shutting of stores is a complex issue, but there is no denying that failing to quickly adapt to e-commerce played a central role in the challenges faced by Forever 21 and other brands. As Martha C. White wrote in an NBC piece on the former’s bankruptcy, “…smaller online startups today are using social media to connect directly with a customer base in a way that wasn’t possible in Forever 21’s heyday of the big mall era.”
Eggplant recently surveyed 500 digital and IT teams in the retail sector across the US and UK, and found that companies are investing heavily in digital in an effort to avoid the same fate as Forever 21. Thirty-five percent of the retailers we spoke with are now maintaining five or more digital channels, and this pressure will intensify in the months ahead. In the US, 46% of retailers will release 11 or more products or apps this year while 30% of UK respondents plan to do the same. Ninety-five percent state this is an increase from 2018 and will likely continue in 2020, with 87% of US retail execs and 75% of UK respondents confirming the trend is on the rise.
Given brick-and-mortar’s well-documented struggles, it’s encouraging to see that so many retailers recognize the importance of investing heavily in digital. Of course, it’s not enough to simply maintain these online properties—it’s essential that retailers also modernize their testing strategies to ensure end-to-end testing of their entire digital environment. Today’s consumer has numerous options to choose from and won’t hesitate to switch to a competitor if continuously subjected to a poor user experience.
That’s why it’s so critical that retailers employ an intelligent, AI-driven approach to test automation. This allows brands to experience their digital properties through the eyes of their customers, and efficiently spot and address any performance, functionality or usability issues standing in the way of a high-quality experience. Seventy percent of the retailers we surveyed are already deploying AI in some capacity to test their software and applications, and we expect this to continue as brands work to meet the aggressive pace of release outlined above.
Learn more about Eggplant’s AI-driven approach and why it’s an essential component of retail’s digital future.