Matching back-end capabilities to front-end expectations

Anyone who goes to trade show has likely been asked the question, "So, what are your takeaways?" And last week's Digital Summit 2015 was no exception.

There were reports released, announcements about new products from vendors, and the all-important presentations and panel discussions from retailers. And if I had to name a takeaway, it's this: Retailers need enterprise and in-store technology that allows them to keep up with their customers. Shoppers today are more advanced, technologically, than many of their favorite stores.

It's a message that came across loud and clear from Michelle Kelly, president of Lilly Pulitzer, where shoppers have moved faster than the brand when it comes to the adoption of mobile technology.

It also came across loud and clear in the questions raised from panelists and attendees about endless aisle and inventory transparency. Giving shoppers access to everything in stock—and often items not stocked, but available to drop-ship from manufacturers—is empowering to the shopper. But store associates don't necessarily have the same technology, and companies are having trouble matching back-end systems with front-end expectations.

Retailers have been tackling the transition to digital in stages. From website development and digital customer service to mobile applications that enable m-commerce and improve shopper loyalty—these are now the foundation for a successful retailer.

The next step is connecting the back-end capabilities to the front-end user experience.

This holiday will certainly be a test, particularly in mobile. Retailers largely have mobile-friendly sites in place thanks to Google's threat of mobilegeddon. Many are setting up in-store pickup locations, implementing curbside pickup, and doing anything they can to better accommodate the rush to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS).

Shoppers have the tools—they are armed with product information, reviews and inventory availability—but do in-store associates have the same? -Laura

See all FierceRetail's 2015 coverage.