Digital divide splits retail

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Digital divide splits retail

Antony Savvas
Smaller firms are shunning sales opportunities using Web marketing and e-mail, according to new research from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The research found a digital divide within the retail sector regarding the use of e-commerce. Footwear firms, packaging companies and smaller independent stores were singled out by the DTI for not adopting e-commerce strategies. Altogether 23% of UK businesses were found to have no e-commerce strategy at all.

Of those sectors using e-commerce, the DTI research found most were missing out business opportunities based on customer relationship management (CRM) and electronic supply chain management.

The survey found that 71% of retail firms used external e-mail, and 53% had their own Web site. However only 9% shared an extranet with their suppliers and only 15% had access to a business-to-business e-market place.

On the CRM side, some supermarkets and other stores admitted to the DTI that they had barely made use of the data they had collected on their customers using loyalty card schemes.

Commenting on the figures, e-commerce minister Stephen Timms said: "The UK's retailers are making progress in adopting e-commerce and developing e-business solutions. But there is clearly room for improvement, and we cannot afford to be complacent."

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