Half of UK retailers still lack digital retail strategy

26th February 2018

According to figures published by technology company Fujitsu last week, more than half of UK retailers don’t have a formal digital retail strategy in place for their business, despite many indications that there is growing consumer demand for change in this area.

Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash

Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash

The report, entitled ‘Technology in a Transforming Britain’ is available as a pdf on Fujitsu’s website and uses research taken from 2,000 UK consumers. Of these around 46% believe that AR (Augmented Reality) will have a positive impact on retail and around 22% have similar expectations for VR (Virtual Reality). These are both hot retail tech topics that we have spoken about on here on the Barber blog a few times before.

However, despite the anticipated value of using technologies such as AR and VR and many consumer’s apparent readiness to adopt it, retailers are failing to embrace this openness to change. The Fujitsu report found that only 50% of retailers have a digital strategy in place that plans to introduce AR and VR ‘at some point’. And around three quarters of respondents admitted that they have absolutely no plans to introduce VR, AR or even AI (Artificial intelligence) to their strategy within the next 12 months.

Speaking about the report, Rupal Karia, Managing Director of Fujitsu and Ireland’s Commercial Sector describes the findings:

“When it comes to retail, consumers already say that they would be happy to be served by a robot in a supermarket or to have an automated machine to deliver their goods. This presents an exciting opportunity for retailers, who may have thought such futuristic technologies would have scared customers away, when actually it will entice consumers towards them more”

Despite this, according to Fujitsu, business leaders remain very negative about the changes that technology is creating within the retail sector. Whilst they can see that life in Britain has been fundamentally transformed, they view the change as having an adverse impact on business, rather than embracing the potential possibilities of retail technology.

Some are reluctant to invest in new technology because of the uncertainty of the return on their investment (ROI) – particularly if they are considering early adoption rather than following others. 25% reported that they were disappointed in the ROI that new technology had brought them so far. However there is some light in the tunnel. Retailers who have embraced change were far more positive about adopting new technology – although some said they were yet to experience the benefits of a forward-thinking strategy. Of those who did, increased productivity (35%), improved operational efficiency (37%) and business growth (44%) were the key take away.

Has your retail business got a digital strategy are you one of the 50% that are missing out? Has embracing (or hiding from) new technology worked for you? Let us know in the comments section below!