Mobile and multichannel on the move – IT budgets are increasing

On the occasion of EuroCIS 2013 EHI presents its latest survey about the IT trends in the German-speaking retail industry. The survey shows that the growing importance of the internet in the consumer environment and the advance of the smartphones and tablets/iPads is seen by the retail companies as a major challenge for the coming years. Competition, chiefly stirred up by e-commerce, will continue to increase in the near future, putting more pressure on costs.

Mobile drives innovation

Mobile is a key driver for investments and innovation. The topic relates, on the one hand, to business processes and, on the other, to customer services. That means that retailers invest in both mobile devices for their own employees and the development of applications for mobile customer terminal devices. More than half of the companies plans to use tablets/iPads in their branches and almost 40 per cent would like to use tablets for sales support too.

82 per cent of businesses assume that the share of cashless payments will continue to rise in the next years. Should the mobile payment processes gain wider acceptance, then the share of cash will decline faster than anticipated, many participants in the survey estimate. Currently the investments in mobile payment are still on a low level, although multiple preparatory measures are taken, such as the upgrading of the EFT terminals.

Multichannel challenge

The number of companies planning multichannel projects has almost doubled since 2011. Nowadays one in two companies is engaging in multichannel integration. The investments are aimed at process integration and the online/offline link to customer and goods management data. A consistent quality of the master data is seen as an absolute prerequisite for a successful strategy, although in this field there is still scope for optimisation. The organisational challenges accompanying the implementation of multichannel are considered to be substantial.

IT budgets as an indicator

Some 30 per cent of the companies – twice as many as in 2011 – are planning investments in business intelligence systems. Some retailers consider the processing of large data volumes – Big Data – and the practical evaluation of the data emanating from the various interactions with the customers – Social Media Analysis – to be important topics of the future.

61 per cent of the companies surveyed expect increased IT budgets in the coming years due to the growing demands. Compared to 2011 the IT budgets have already moderately risen to 1.14 per cent of net turnover on average.

Self checkout and scanning

As was already the case in 2011, almost one fifth of the companies (18 per cent) wish to offer self checkouts as an alternative at the checkout, whereas one tenth is in favour of self scanning. This concerns mainly companies in the food retail trade. Self scanning using the customer’s smartphone is seen as an interesting future development but, as yet, it has not led to concrete plans.

Database

In its current survey “IT Trends in Retail 2013” EHI has questioned CIOs and IT managers of 85 retail companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland by means of personal interviews about projects, trends and investment priorities.

Members of EHI can download “IT Trends in Retail 2013” free of charge from our download area.

Source: EHI Retail Institute