Half of UK retailers plan increased investments in mobile

New research from strategic information management company, Stibo Systems, has revealed the primary technology challenges faced by retailers, largely led by the need for improved multi-channel strategies. The study found that cross-channel retailing remains a clear priority for UK retailers, with over three quarters (78%) of respondents stating that strategic investment to enhance consumers’ multi-channel experience will drive retail sales this year.

The study, which was undertaken in January 2012 by independent research house Coleman Parkes, surveyed 100 senior executives at the UK’s top retailers. The findings highlight a growing need for retailers to have proper multi-channel strategies in place, revealing mobile as the key growth channel for 2012. Indeed, the research found that retailers are finally recognising the importance of mobile commerce, with approximately half (48%) planning to enhance their mobile offering by the end of the year. Of those, 53% are looking to enable their online websites for mobile while 44% plan to facilitate mobile transactions.

The research also suggests that retailers are looking to invest in transactional mobile websites which are rich in multimedia and strengthened by detailed product information. However, retailers reported lack of budget (58%) and legacy technology systems (37%) as the biggest barriers to investment in these mobile strategies.

Meanwhile, the study identified a trend towards convenience, with 71% of retailers reporting a sharp rise in the number of consumers demanding same day delivery. Similarly, half of retailers state that consumers expect shopping on the move via transactional mobile sites.

The research demonstrates retailers’ need for a strong product information management solution underpinning their strategy, to accommodate the rise in mobile commerce. To illustrate, comprehensive product information was identified as the most important aspect of a retailer’s website in terms of product pages (56%), ahead of images (13%), consumer reviews (12%), links to similar products (9%) and rich content (8%). Retailers are also witnessing high demand from shoppers for detailed information about products, with over half (58%) stating that this was a top consumer requirement.

Mark Thorpe, Managing Director UK at Stibo Systems, comments: “Mobile is a growing facet of a retailer’s multi-channel strategy, and while retailers have long been aware of it, most have not actively moved towards putting a proper mobile strategy in place. Our previous research has found that consumers aren’t satisfied with their mobile shopping experience, so it is promising that retailers now recognise the need to focus on their multi-channel offerings. Worryingly, lack of ‘know how’ was cited by 15% of retailers as a reason for slow implementation of m-commerce. This, coupled with consumer demands for a more enriched shopping experience including more social interactions and product information, shows that retailers need to invest in the right technology to underpin their multi-channel offering to manage master product data across all channels.”

Ian Parkes, Director at Coleman Parkes states: “This research provides a comprehensive overview of the multi-channel landscape for 2012 and ‘SoLoMo’ (social, location and mobile) seem to be the biggest growth areas. We have found that retailers recognise the importance of mobile commerce, and realise that consumers are moving on from using mobile devices simply for browsing to actively purchasing. Our findings suggest that the shrewdest retailers will now be preparing for internationalisation and geo-spatial retailing, yet maintaining detailed product information across multiple channels remains the biggest priority.”

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