Retailers look to boost technology spend

The vast majority of the UK's top 60 retailers look set to spend more on technology in the coming year, with websites & mobile and new IT systems two of their top three investment priorities.

The TLT Retail Growth Strategies Survey 2014, commissioned by law firm TLT, reveals that all 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, are most enthusiastic about mobile payments with two thirds looking at or already planning to invest. Half say that mobile payment technologies offer the best prospects for growth.

More than half are looking at putting money into developing ecommerce platforms. There is also interest in customer relationship management systems and data analytics software. iPads in store, apps for consumers and image recognition are also of interest to around half of retailers. Nearly a third are considering using augmented reality.

However, despite nearly half of retailers seeing competitive advantage in being an early adopter of new technologies, not all technologies are emerging as equals. A huge majority have no interest in 3D printing and most retailers have 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 are worried about the costs of integrating a new device with their existing systems and incompatibility. The problem of training staff is also an issue with technology for around a third.

Perran Jervis, Head of Retail at law firm TLT said:

"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.

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