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Predictions from our IMS experts on why retail operations will focus on digitalisation, responding to rising global temperatures, cost transformations, and plug-and-play technology in 2024.

Retailers have demonstrated remarkable agility, quickly adapting their operations and implementing innovative solutions amidst the challenges posed by soaring energy prices, extreme weather conditions, and COVID-19. As we move into 2024, our panel of experts share their predictions for what trends will dominate retail in the coming months.
As a trusted partner to retailers worldwide, IMS Evolve is at the forefront of driving real-time action across operations. Our dedicated team of experts collaborate closely with retailers daily to understand their challenges and deliver tailored solutions.
From a renewed focus on operating expenditure to increased synergy between assets and strategic load shedding for warmer months, enjoy our insights of what lies ahead for 2024.
Jason Kay, Chief Commercial Officer, predicts that in 2024, cost transformation, flexibility, and adaptability will be a key focus.
“In the current economic climate with challenges such as heightened market volatility, energy price increases, and the war in Ukraine, this is the year where all new and existing investments and strategies across all sectors will be put under the rigorous OPEX lens.
However, in 2024, to achieve genuine operational cost transformation, technology providers must ensure solutions are effectively tailored to the adopting business’s objectives and are sensitive to their challenges, whilst not compromising sustainability goals. Furthermore, linear solutions across energy and sustainability pose not only a challenge but a threat to the adopting organisations business models. Flexibility and adaptability that enables solutions to pivot to evolving market conditions will prove critical for business model stability. Technology providers whose solutions are foundational on OPEX reduction yet provide enough flexibility and adaptability to pivot to evolving market conditions will gain competitive advantage and will drive true, ongoing value for their customers.”
Global Refrigeration and Energy Solutions Manager, Lee Harpham, predicts that retailers will increase digitalisation to meet consumer demand and managing their own energy use and costs.
“The effects of climate change and global warming are having an increasing impact on retailers' operations, from disruptions to the transportation of goods across the food supply chain, to greater demand for Air Conditioning (AC) in stores. Retailers are seeing the need to increase their flexibility and adaptability to meet consumer demand, while also improving the efficiency of their own energy use. As a result, across 2024, we will see retailers embrace digitalisation to create synergy between assets, improved efficiency, and reduced spending. For example, enabling solar energy to be used to power AC when demand is at its highest, or improving the utilisation of waste heat from supermarket refrigeration systems to make energy savings. The biggest challenge retailers now face is having the skilled engineers to accomplish these goals.”
Glyn Dodd, Director of Channel Development, predicts that in 2024, long term, economic considerations will be a focus for both new and existing sustainability initiatives. 

“In 2024, the emphasis on sustainability initiatives and achieving net zero targets will further intensify, despite encountering economic challenges associated with the adoption of green energy initiatives over the past year. While the focus remains resolute, there will be increasing calls for pragmatic business cases from adopting organisations who have various competing objectives and challenges to address. To continue aiding this transition, governments worldwide will continue to promote globalised commercial incentives aimed at optimising energy consumption, albeit at a more cautious pace, as they navigate the complexities of the energy market.

Meanwhile, retailers have been implementing effective sustainable initiatives to help meet net zero targets over recent years. This will continue in 2024, with an added focus across the entire cold chain industry, as its potential to significantly contribute to sustainability is recognised and the opportunity to digitalise cooling strategies and technologies is acknowledged.”


Edward Porter, Director of IoT Solutions, predicts that in 2024, retailers will focus on ensuring that their operations are protected, and that energy can be managed even in high temperatures.
“Since the extreme heat in the summer of 2022 when businesses across the country struggled to keep critical equipment running in unprecedented temperatures, retailers have been increasingly focused on protecting operations and being prepared for heatwaves.
Strategic planning for upcoming months has long been a cornerstone of retail operations, encompassing tasks such as forecasting product demand and estimating footfall. However, in 2024, this will be taken to a new level as retailers plan meticulously for summer and put substantial efforts into ensuring energy consumption can be managed effectively if temperatures suddenly spike. For example, we are likely to see more retailers implementing load shedding tactics. On hot days when refrigerator packs are stressed and struggling to keep units cool, energy loads can be shifted from less vulnerable units, for example, those only containing fizzy drinks or alcohol, to the most critical units, such as those containing fresh produce. This will enable retailers to cope with rising temperatures while safeguarding food, mitigating stock loss, protecting equipment and maintaining availability for consumers.”
2024: Smart about Sustainability
Over the past few years, one undeniable lesson has emerged: the future is unpredictable. However, this reality has driven organisations across every sector worldwide to seek resilience and adaptability through flexible strategies and technology.
Retailers specifically will undoubtedly face a myriad of new and existing challenges through 2024, but the prevailing trend that has dominated our experts’ predictions is the unwavering commitment to sustainability goals, such as reducing emissions and improving energy management, all while navigating the tight margins of the industry. To facilitate this transition successfully, retailers are likely to embrace innovative, plug-and-play technology for deploying energy-saving, smart cooling solutions. These solutions not only curb operating expenses but also empower organisations to swiftly adapt to the evolving landscape of 2024 and beyond.