Study reveals growing importance of technology for retailers

27 Jun 2012

Digital signage, payment processing, and other IT innovations are playing increasingly important functions in the retail sector, suggests new research by CompTIA, a non-profit association for the IT industry.

Seventy-two per cent of retailers said technology is important to their business, and that figure is forecast to rise to 83pc by 2014, CompTIA’s Retail Sector Technology Adoption Trends Study reveals.

The study also shows that 63pc of retailers expect to increase their IT spending this year.

One in three retailers now use digital signage, with an additional 20pc intending to do so soon. The most popular uses for digital signage are promotional announcements and other direct engagement with customers, cited by 71pc of respondents.

Among all emerging technologies, adoption intent is highest for geolocation services. About one in five retailers now use geolocation technologies and other location-based solutions to reach customers.

“One reason for the strong interest may be in response to ‘showrooming’, where consumers visit a physical shop to assess a product but make the purchase from an online retailer to get the lowest possible price,” said Tim Herbert, vice-president, research CompTIA.

“Location-based technologies can give retailers the tools to incentivise in-store purchases, such as special discounts for in-store customers who check in via an app.”

Retailers are experimenting with technologies that improve upon point-of-sale systems or leapfrog those systems entirely and leverage new platforms for payment processing.

In the CompTIA study, 13pc of retailers are using a mobile payment system, and19pc plan to do so over the next year.

Herbert noted that a broad-based technology strategy that addresses foundational needs must accompany new technologies, as well.

“Reliable wireless connectivity, robust security, quality end-points, data back-up and other IT basics can’t be overlooked,” he said.

CompTIA’s Retail Sector Technology Adoption Trends Study is based on an online survey of 500 US retailers conducted between March 27 and April 2.