More than a third (35%) of retailers polled for a new report have no transformation strategy in place to cope with the rise of digital technology and changing consumer habits, while almost half (44%) are doing nothing to invest in that strategy.
These are key findings from e-commerce agency PushON’s latest report, ‘Preparing for the Future of Retail’, which polled 100 top UK retailers and 1,000 consumers.
It says that retailers’ lack of preparation is worrying in light of the fact that internet sales increased from 5.8% of the market to 20% between December 2008 and December 2018. It also highlights that the UK mobile commerce market is expected to double by 2022 to be worth £243.7 billion.
The report also reveals that only 13% of retailers have appointed specific team members to deal with digital innovation and only 30% have invested in a new e-commerce platform.
This points to a disconnect between retailers’ and shoppers’ aspirations, with only 10% of retailers saying they believe an e-commerce platform is important to shoppers, whereas 29% of consumers said they want retailers to invest in one.
Of those retailers that did have a digital transformation strategy in pace, only 27% said it was progressing well. Just over a quarter (26%) said they thought this transformation was crucial to their survival.
Of course, it is easy for retailers to take comfort in the fact that 81% of UK consumers believe bricks-and-mortar shops are still vital to the shopping experience, but the report warns that while once a high-street presence was the only ingredient necessary for success, shoppers now expect to browse and purchase through an every-increasing range of channels.
More than three-quarters (77%) of consumers questioned said they thought retailers are not doing enough to keep up with digital trends.
The report highlights that data from Google shows that 20% of its mobile searches are carried out via voice, making it important to retailers to ensure their e-commerce sites are optimised for voice search.
Just under a third of consumers quizzed by PushON (29.2%) said they wanted a more seamless journey both online and in-store, whereas only 10% of retailers said they thought a good omni-channel experience was important to customers.
Sam Rutley, managing director of PushON, said: “Despite the rise of e-commerce and growing demand for omni-channel retailing over the past few years, it seems that a large number of retailers are still ignoring the need to implement a digital transformation strategy.
“Doing so will be crucial when it comes to keeping up with rapidly changing consumer demands, with shoppers’ expectations now higher than ever before, thanks to the rise of Amazon and other e-commerce trailblazers.
“While it’s reassuring to see that 65% of retailers have given the issue some thought, the results of the survey make it clear that customers are still feeling disappointed with the lack of progress made by many businesses, showing that more needs to be done – and fast.”
Action points for retailers In conclusion, PushON offered some key action points for retailers: • The 35% of retailers without a digital transformation strategy in place need to start urgently planning for the future or risk losing customers to more forward-thinking competitors. • Retailers must invest in better, easier-to-use websites. This may require them to migrate to a more sophisticated platform. • Convenience is key. The most popular innovations are those that make consumers’ lives easier, from the checkout process through to returns. • Retailers should not neglect the in-store experience when it comes to digital transformation. Bricks-and-mortar stores are still an important part of the customer journey. • ‘Gimmicky’ technologies like AR and VR are not yet a deal-breaker for consumers. This gives retailers time to focus on getting the basics of their digital transformation right first. • Although social shopping isn’t desired by all age ranges, it is most popular among 18 to 34-year-olds. Retailers must ensure they are catering for the preferences of this age group. • Retailers need to be preparing for the rise of mobile commerce. This includes improving their mobile app, optimising their site for mobile, and keeping a close eye on the advent of PWAs (Progressive Web Apps).