Smaller retailers boosting technology spending.
Smaller retailers in the UK are planning to invest in technology in the year ahead as they recognise it as a key way to boost the customer experience and build loyalty, which will help protect their businesses against the tough economic climate.
As many as 30% of independent retailers have indicated that technology will be receiving investment in 2024, according to research from American Express, which also found 34% were doing so as a route to bolstering the customer experience. Technology is regarded as a priority for the year ahead and comes on the back of 43% of retailers stating that they had committed budgets to business technology in order to enhance their capabilities ahead of the Christmas period.
This investment activity comes alongside a level of optimism among smaller independent operators, with as many as 89% expecting to grow over the next 12 months and a hefty 93% feeling confident about the future of their businesses.
Dan Edelman, general manager of UK merchant services at American Express, says: “It’s encouraging to see so many of the UK’s small retailers entering 2024 with an optimistic outlook. However, they know that they can’t stand still if they want to grow their businesses. Investing in new technology unlocks operational efficiencies, frees up valuable resource, and ultimately improves the customer experience.”
The survey also found that collaboration and community is high up the agenda of many small retailers, with as many as 79% agreeing that working with local community business had increased over the past year. Almost three quarters of companies stated that they always try to work with local, independent suppliers where possible, and a similar proportion agreed it was important that small businesses work together to navigate the tough trading environment.
As well as spending on technology there is also a plan by smaller retailers to bolster their sales and marketing activity, with 26% stating they will ramp up their activity in this area. This will be likely be spread across channels as 24% of retailers said they will increase their online sales capability. This spending comes on the back of recognition that acquiring new customers is proving increasingly difficult, with almost a quarter of retailers admitting that this is a challenge for their organisation.