Technology entices shoppers: Lighting up the high street

Friday, 18 March 2011
Retailers risk disappointing customers by not investing in new technology to improve the retail experience. British retailers are focussing their technology investment on cost cutting and driving internal efficiencies over the next 12 months, despite customers demanding more innovative technology to deliver a more rewarding shopping experience, according to new research released today by BT.

Comparing high street retailers’ priorities on technology investment with customer desires, the research found 68 per cent of shoppers are excited about prospects for technology to revolutionise their shopping experience. The results highlight demands amongst retailers and customers for the benefits delivered through BT’s new retail solution launched today, which combines advanced applications delivered over super-fast access with flexible commercial models to meet the needs of the British high street.

Ninety-two per cent of retailers surveyed said they currently face barriers to investing in technology to improve the shopping experience. Nearly three quarters (74%) cited budget restrictions as their main barrier, reflecting a pressure to find savings through efficiency before money is released for new investment in customer-facing technology. The main targets for technology investment in the coming year are expanding capacity to introduce new product lines (53%) and improving operational efficiency (39%). For larger retailers (51+ stores), operational efficiency comes top of their priorities, followed by their plans for opening new stores (45%).

87% of retailers believe access to the latest cutting edge technology and software could help them make their customers’ experience more rewarding. There is also demand for flexibility in the way access to technology and services is provided, with 85% believing they would benefit from access to the kind of ‘pay-as-you-go’ or ‘turn-on, turn-off’ services that can be delivered through super-fast access and cloud computing applications.

Commenting on the research findings, Emer Timmons, President, BT Global Services UK, said: “We know British retailers would love to give their shoppers the most rewarding and enjoyable experience possible, but companies operating on the high street are facing some of the toughest challenges of any sector during the current economic climate. They have to prioritise their technology investment so that it delivers to the bottom line and it is no surprise something like operational efficiency comes at the top of their list. Ultimately they know that fulfilling customer demands leads to sales growth and increased revenue.”

This survey of 100 retail industry executives and 2,000 consumers was commissioned by BT to coincide with the launch of Lighting Up the High Street, the company’s latest end-to-end offering for retailers. It provides agility and efficiency to all retailers – from fashion retail chains to national supermarkets – through advanced IT services on a secure virtual platform in the cloud that gives on demand access to applications from BT’s specialist retail division BT Expedite and other technology partners delivered over superfast secure networks.

Emer Timmons continues: “We strongly felt it was time to do something for retailers and are excited to be leading the way by launching Lighting up the High Street. BT is already a trusted partner of many retail brands such as Aurora Fashions, Debenhams, and Mothercare as well as smaller retailers so we understand the needs of retailers. This new proposition delivers efficiencies to retailers so that they can concentrate on their customers and improving the retail experience. What’s more, Lighting Up the High Street can help retailers create a more rewarding experience through multi-channel shopping.”

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