UK retailers must invest more in digital technologies

The UK’s biggest retailers are ‘under-investing’ in in-store digital technologies

The UK’s biggest retailers are ‘under-investing’ in digital technologies instore.

Despite nearly 90% of retailers thinking digital and multi-channel is a significant factor to long-term growth, 66% of UK high street retailers are not investing enough in the technology.

The survey conducted by eBay and Conlumino, has stated that the average spend technologies to digitise stores, including virtual mirrors and facial recognition is less than 4% of annual turnover.

The main barriers of investment are justifying return, integrating with existing IT systems and keeping within technology budgets. But 85% of retailers have stated that they are finding it difficult to know which technologies to invest in.

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Meanwhile three quarters of shoppers of all ages want to use new retail technologies in high street stores. 40% want to see virtual fitting rooms and virtual mirrors to try on clothing, 28% would like to see 3D printers, 26% would like retailers to incorporate wearable devices like smartwatches to supply offers to customers, while 22% would like to see the use of facial recognition for personalised services and payments.

But only 1% of retailers have integrated wearable technologies, while only 6% have plans to do so in the future, and 9% are using virtual fitting rooms, with 15% planning to integrate in the future.

Some retailers are starting to experiment with digital instore technologies, with the likes of Asda using 3D printing and Lego making use of augmented reality. But Neil Saunders, retail analyst from Conlumino said the majority of retailers are “still in the recession mindset when it comes to budgets.”

eBay has identified the ‘Super Shoppers’ which is 18% of shoppers who account for 70% of the total UK retail sales, equating to over £200bn in 2013. The online retail giant’s research stated that retailers who make the most of digital, as well as mobile devices and services such as Click and Collect are more likely to reach this demographic.

Valerie Nygaard, senior director of user experience at eBay, said that the majority of sales still happen in-store and successful retailers will be the ones to integrate digital into the high street in a “connected seamless experience.”

“Investment in technology has to fight for its place in a challenging retail environment and it is more important than ever for retailers to understand what shoppers really want so they can separate the future from fad,” he said. “Traditional ROI and sales metrics are difficult to apply to these emerging technologies, but taking a leap of faith to give customers a better experience can drive revenue and growth.”

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