The UK's top 60 retailers look set to spend more on technology in the coming year, with web and mobile sites and new IT systems top of their three priorities
The TLT Retail Growth Strategies Survey 2014, commissioned by law firm TLT, has revealed that the UK’s top 60 retailers are confident that technology will help drive sales, with over 80% stating that it had improved the efficiency of their business.
Overall the retailers surveyed, which account for 71% of all retail trade, were most enthusiastic about mobile payments, with two thirds looking at or already planning to invest. Half said that mobile payment technologies also offer the best prospects for growth.
More than half said they were looking at putting money into developing e-commerce platforms.
There was also interest in customer relationship management (CRM
) systems and data analytics software. Tablets like iPads instore, customer-facing apps and image recognition were also of interest to around half of retailers, while nearly a third were considering using augmented reality (AR
Retail tech winners and losers
However, despite nearly half of retailers seeing competitive advantage in being an early adopter of new technologies, the survey found not all technologies were emerging as equals. A huge majority had no interest in 3D printing and most retailers had not even heard of haptic technology, which mimics touch through vibration.
Retailers also identified a number of challenges; the biggest being the lack of knowledge and skills within existing teams (75%), followed by concerns around the cost of data compliance
and a general lack of understanding of technology by management.
A quarter of retailers worried about the costs of integrating a new device with their existing systems and incompatibility. The problem of training
staff also emerged as an issue with technology for around a third.
Balancing IT risks and rewards
Perran Jervis, head of retail at TLT, stated: “Retailers see the value in boosting investment in technology with a focus on how it can help co-ordinate product, price and promotion across all channels. This is a clear response to well informed and price aware consumers who expect to use multiple channels simultaneously to research and buy products.
"Technology offers enormous opportunity but comes with significant risk: backing the right product at the right time, investing in the right skills and ensuring systems are compatible and optimised to meet the latest buying trends are not easy wins. As the industry moves forward, technology is and will be as integral to retail success as brand and location.”