The retail times, they are a changin'. A few years ago, the consumer trend was toward Web-based purchasing, and it looked as though half or more of all purchases would eventually be transacted on the Web. That rosy prediction didn't materialize. In fact, the amount of Web-based purchases flattened out last year at around 15 to 20 percent, and it is only poised to go down if and when taxation hits the tax-free online stores. In the retail industry we are now seeing a reemergence of the importance of the physical retail shopping experience and a back-to-basics focus on store layout, managing inventory carrying costs, reducing out-of-stocks and targeting consumers with customer loyalty programs.

The top trends that will surely affect retail industry information management within the next year are as follows:

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