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West End retailers shy of store tech

By Retail Technology | Thursday October 24 2013

Study of Oxford Street and Regent Street retailers finds lukewarm use of technologies that can improve customer service and save potentially lost sales

A new report has found retailers on the two busiest shopping streets in the UK’s capital are slow to adopt new instore technologies. That’s the finding of a report by retail technology provider Omnico, which has completed a street survey of Oxford Street and Regent Street in London.
Despite the growth of internet shopping and more than half of consumers owning smartphones, the study only 14% of stores in the area offer free Wi-Fi and just 8% offer assistance through tablet computers instore. 

Even though 200 million people visit the West End each year, queue-busting technologies such as self-service checkouts and mobile point of sale (MPoS) are used by less than 3% of retailers surveyed on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

High Street store tech audit 
Omnico audited over 90 retailers for uses of 17 different technologies, such as click & collect, self-service checkouts and interactive kiosks. Retailers use an average of two technologies, while 30% of retailers don’t offer any of the technologies at all. The most popular technologies in use by West End retailers were click & collect (44% of stores) and video screens (35%).

In terms of the number of technologies deployed, the best performing retailers in the Oxford Street and Regent Street area were: EE, Apple, Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis and Nike, all of which had deployed six or more of these customer-facing store technology enabled services.

Mind the retail technology gap
“We’re a little surprised that technologies that improve customer service aren’t particularly prevalent in a prime shopping area of the West End,” said Steve Thomas, Omnico chief technology officer. “Even the most popular technology, click & collect – which provides High Street retailers with a simple way of joining together their online presence with the store – is used in less than half of retailers.
“Our study also revealed that there is a large gap between those retailers adopting technology and those that aren’t. Only a handful of retailers on Oxford Street and Regent Street are using technology to enhance customer experience, leaving the majority of retailers behind the curve.”

According to a separate poll conducted by Omnico and released earlier this year, almost half of consumers (44%) suggested they would be more likely to shop with a retailer that embraces technology to improve customer service, rising to 63% among 16-24 year olds.