New technologies are now considered the key investment priorities within the retail sector. This has overtaken factors such as skill development, finds Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance.
Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance launched a study to understand challenges influencing buying journeys. Factors from niche e-commerce outlets to high street brands pitched in.
500 senior decision-makers from across the non-food retail spectrum answered questions. More than a third (36%) of respondents cited technology as a key area of investment focus. That’s twice the number who said expanding the workforce (19%). Hiring for particular skills (22%) was also low on priorities.
The findings come with the launch of the Blueprint for Retail Investment whitepaper. The paper looks at the investment pressures retailers are facing. It includes insight and opinion from senior staff within the largest retailers in the UK.
Recruitment should remain front-of-mind amongst retailers. High staff turnover and training costs are continuing to cause headaches for executives.
40% of larger companies (£16m-£25m turnover) say training is their biggest challenge.
Vincent Reboul, managing director said: “technology is driving the future of retail.
Retail experiences are being transformed by immersive and inventive innovations. Processes such as AI have the power to change supply chain and logistics forever. But, the industry is only as good as the people within it. It remains crucial for retailers to get the balance right.”
The research has shown that many retail sectors are now focusing on technology.
One respondent, said: “Technologies are changing the way people are buying products. But you need to have a strategy that caters for both traditional buyers and millennials.”
They added: “Traditional organisations do not have the right tech people on board. We’ve seen those retailers going through some difficult cycles to put in place or pick the right technology for their business.”
Electricals (15%), healthcare (16%) and ecommerce (15%) retailers say recruiting isn’t a priority. The changing demands of consumers is causing the biggest challenge (48%, 35% and 39% ).
The largest retailers (£25m+ turnover) picked out new technologies as a focus (64%). Only 10% of businesses in the next largest bracket of £16m-£25m turnover considered it a priority. They chose to focus on increasing their retail footprint (31%).
Mr. Reboul added: “We have uncovered how complicated it is for retailers.
“Consumer demands are forcing the industry to look at how they can attract and keep new customers. But you must still manage overheads.
“Research shows that there varying opinions of the right action to take.
“There are also some areas where tech versus human investment is out of kilter.”
The Blueprint for Retail Investment whitepaper is a significant analysis of the retail industry. It includes quantitative and qualitative research from key decision makers across the sector.