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UK retailers to spend quarter of IT budget on e-commerce and mobile platforms

Jenny Williams

UK retailers plan to spend almost a quarter of IT budgets on implementing and improving e-commerce and mobile commerce platforms.

The latest annual IT in Retail report by Martec International, sponsored by BT Expedite, shows the UK's top 100 retailers' IT investment in e-commerce and m-commerce has grown from 17% last year to 23% in 2011.

Brian Hume, managing director at Martec International, said spending on new commerce platforms has overtaken spending on in-store systems, which has dominated retail investment for the past nine years.

"Many retailers are struggling to keep pace with the rapidly changing requirements of multichannel operations with legacy systems slowing them down. Replacing these systems is vital for gaining competitive advantage," Brian Hume said.

He added that consumers demand a seamless experience across multi-channel platforms, such as being able to access product information via smartphone devices.

The research found 16% of the retailers already use m-commerce platforms, an increase from 5% last year. A further 12% intend to adopt m-commerce in the future.

Other investment priorities include setting up a transactional website, improving e-commerce customer experience, introducing additional products as well as improving multichannel integration.

A quarter of retailers plan to replace merchandise management systems while 15% plan to replace merchandise planning systems.

The research also showed retailers have delayed replacing electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) systems.

Hume added: "Many retailers seem to be postponing EPOS replacement plans due to the recession and e-commerce being a higher priority. Those planning to do this have fallen to 15% compared to 23% last year."

Fashion retailer New Look recently has launched a new mobile commerce website as part of its multi-channel strategy.

Built on Javascript, CSS3 and HTML5 technology, the mobile site includes "zoomable" product images, integration with Google Maps and one-click checkout for registered users. The site also links to social media and personal e-mail accounts to allow users to share favourite products.


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