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Half of British retailers are finally taking a joint approach to investing in the physical and digital shopping experience

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Almost half of UK retailers are taking a joint approach to physical and digital investment, with fewer than 1 in 10 (8%) continuing to prioritise high street investment alone.

So finds a study by VoucherCodes, which also find that 73% consider customer demand to be the key motivator for embracing change, while more than half (51%) of retailers admit new investments are slowed down by a lack of direction in the leadership team.

The research shows whilst there is a considerable way to go before a joint approach is universally accepted as best practice across the board, retailers are showing positive signs of steering in the right direction to a dual approach.

The research was carried out by VoucherCodes in conjunction with WBR and surveyed 100 senior executives at major UK retailers from the fashion, luxury, sports, homeware, consumer electronics and DIY industries.

Flexible and mobile payment technology attracts the most investment

When it comes to what retailers are investing in, the research has revealed the majority of UK retailers (56%) are prioritising payment technology before any other kind of technology. What’s more, almost half (47%) of UK retailers confessed to investing in digital receipts during the last 12 months, demonstrating a clear attempt to integrate online and offline channels.

Other areas of investment include mobile applications, coupons and in-store tablets, as shown in the results table below:

Where has your company invested in the last 12 months?
Payment technology 56%
Own mobile app 48%
Mobile payments 48%
Digital receipts 47%
Mobile coupons 42%
In-store tablets 35%
Third party apps 20%
Geofencing technology 19%
Beacon technology 15%
AR technology 15%
VR technology 11%


What’s more, the research reveals customer demand and loyalty is the key motivator for retailers investing in new technologies. Customers expect retailers to be completely up-to-date with the latest innovations, often leaving retailers playing catch up, and recent years have seen seismic shifts in the retail landscape.

In fact, VoucherCodes has discovered almost three-quarters (73%) of UK retailers believe the main motivator for these investments to be customer demand – a significant shift from just 59% in 2016, showing retailers consider customer motivation higher now than ever before.

And it seems this pace of change is set to only get quicker over the next few years, particularly with growing political uncertainty and ongoing questions surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union. As shown through the data, UK retailers anticipate an unprecedented rate of change over the next few years, with 7 in 10 (69%) stating they simply could not predict the consumer purchasing habits of the future or what the retail industry will look like in five years’ time.

Resistors to change

However, the data has also revealed there are a number of challenges UK retailers are facing when it comes to implementing change and gaining traction for these new investments.

Over half of retailers (51%) admit they often face a leadership problem when it comes to adopting change, with leading business figureheads resisting or failing to lead when direction is clearly needed. Whilst the desire exists, there are numerous hurdles retailers are having to overcome in order to adapt quick enough for futuristic shoppers:

What are the biggest challenges you face when trying to implement change in your organisation?
Staff capacity 56%
The knowledge and figurehead to direct it 51%
Organisational structure 50%
Motivation across the team 45%
Time 42%
Budget 41%
Technology 39%


Paul Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing at VoucherCodes says: “It is hugely satisfying to see more retailers than ever before investing in a joint approach to the shopping experience – an approach retail experts have been championing for years to encourage a step away from siloed, ineffective teams.

What this research shows is retailers are finally beginning to understand that the industry is incredibly fickle and requires constant adaptation in order to keep up with consumer demand. Ultimately, consumers are in the driving seat, and retailers can no longer sit regimented if they want to boost sales and keep up with the constant pace of change.

Change must be implemented across every level of the business and retailers should be looking directly to consumers for inspiration for their next investment in order to reap the rewards.”

The full data report can be downloaded from the VoucherCodes Press Centre here.

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