Retailers investing in technology to stay competitive

More than half (51%) of retailers believe they will have to introduce more technology into their business strategy in the next five years to remain competitive, says a new report.

The report, produced by digital transformation specialist Nexer in partnership with applied futurist Tom Cheesewright, looks at retail as a whole. The KBB industry has already seen an increase in the use of technology in retail, with CAD software for designing or VR for showcasing completed designs. 

Only 43% of retailers believe that important global and national events, like Brexit and Covid-19, have made technology more essential. However, a third of those surveyed think it is because of consumer demand and expectations that technology will be crucial.

More than a quarter (28%) of those surveyed believe the technology they are currently using will be sufficient for the foreseeable future.

Cheesewright said: “In metropolitan areas, we’re likely to see retail brands concentrating their efforts on selling high-value goods to consumers, using experiential marketing and augmented reality technologies to tempt customers in-store.”

While VR and AR are quite standard in the KBB industry, compared with the whole of retail, the survey found that only 2% of retailers had AR technology. However, 9% said they would implement it over the next five years.

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Nine out of 10 retailers (89%) say they have no desire to put AR in their stores, with 17% saying they believe it is a gimmick.

Colin Crow, managing director at Nexer, said: “While we will hopefully not need to face another global pandemic in the near future, there are other, potentially even more disruptive, forces at play, which could soon have an even greater impact on the way we live and work.

“All industries absolutely need to be prepared for these changes, and technology will undoubtedly play an increasingly central role in business success going forward. We hope more retailers will realise this and take positive action before it’s too late.”

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