Lack of digital know-how costing UK retailers £12bn

With Britain’s retail sector under pressure to get back on track after months of uncertainty and falling sales, digital technologies offer new opportunities for retailers to engage customers within and beyond the store.

The study found that while retailers are struggling to harness technology, over 50 per cent of all purchases are now influenced by digital channels such as mobile apps and social media in addition to retailers own websites – highlighting the need for retailers to improve their digital know-how or risk missing out.

Consumers aren’t satisfied with the experience they currently receive, with 93 per cent saying they find some aspect of the digital shopping experience frustrating. These frustrations are causing consumers to spend less, or take their business elsewhere – resulting in a huge missed opportunity for retailers worth up to a potential £12bn in lost sales.

Ben Dowd, O2 Business director, commented: “Smartphone penetration is expected to reach 90 per cent in the next three years and the impending arrival of 4G with O2 this summer will herald an era of ubiquitous connectivity. Retailers that don’t act now risk missing out on huge sales potential. The findings reveal just how crucial digital engagement has become for retailers when it comes to stealing a march against the competition.”

Caroline Gorski, Managing Partner of O2’s Retail & Leisure Practice added: “Digital technology offers retailers new opportunities when it comes to understanding more about consumers and engaging with them in new ways – but as this study reveals, not enough is currently being done to harness the benefits it can bring.

Gorski continued: “It is critical for retailers to engage digitally with consumers within and beyond the store to secure a place on the high street of the future. This can include exciting in-store experiences that extend into the digital world, contextual and location-aware promotional campaigns to reward loyalty and attract new customers, and a consistent shopping experience across all channels, boosting customer satisfaction and retailers’ bottom line.”

Neil Saunders, Managing Director, Conlumino commented: “Digital services have provided a huge opportunity for the retail sector but they have also thrown up huge challenges, not least for those retailers trying to integrate new digital offerings with legacy systems. The priority now, is to create a seamless experience for the ever more demanding consumer who expects consistency across all channels. Proper integration will also provide retailers with more insight about shopper behaviour which can be used to create a more tailored and personalised experience.”