Gap Between eCommerce Investment And Brick-and-Mortar Widens

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3:07 PM EDT February 4th, 2013

eCommerce will be UK retailers’ biggest IT investment priority over the next three years as they look to capitalise on the rapid growth in online commerce, according to new figures from Martec’s ‘IT in Retail 2013’ Report. The report questioned IT directors and senior IT managers from the UK’s leading 150 retailers regarding their IT strategies and spending

Store systems were retailers’ second biggest investment priority, yet the gap between these and eCommerce had widened significantly over the last year, as retailers have looked to further strengthen their omni-channel capabilities.

“Traditionally, store systems have consumed the largest part of the IT budget, often as much as 80 percent, because of the multiplier effect of a large number of stores,” said Brian Hume, Managing Director of Martec International. “However, with continuing reduced budgets and the rapid acceleration in online and mobile sales it is understandable that the focus has very much changed in recent years.”

When retailers were asked where they thought online sales would peak, department stores and mass merchandisers generally thought it would be 30-40 percent of total sales. Small format stores thought between 20-30 percent, while food and drug and large format speciality retailers generally thought it would be between 10-20 percent.

The report also revealed that mCommerce is emerging as an area of increased focus for retailers. Forty-nine percent of retailers stated they were already using m-commerce, with a further 13 percent saying they were planning to do so. For those retailers, with m-commerce capabilities it was now accounting for on average 2.9 percent of sales. Small format speciality retailers were the biggest beneficiaries of m-commerce, with it accounting for 3.5 percent of sales.

Finally, the survey revealed that if retailers want to offer customers a smooth shopping experience across all channels, they have to know when customers are in store and shopping. So in addition to customer loyalty programs, more retailers are looking to offer free customer Wi-Fi in store. 23 percent of the retailers surveyed said they were already offering free Wi-Fi, while a further 12 percent said they were planning to provide such a service in the future.

To find out more, click here to download the report.

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