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Multi-channel CRM is now the top priority for retail CIOs around the world

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The second annual Global Retail CIO Survey, sponsored by Aldata Solution and IBM, has found that multi-channel CRM is now the top priority for retail CIOs around the world.

Multi-channel CRM was ranked as the most important application by respondents to the survey, with 42% saying they have yet to implement multi-channel CRM, but plan to do so within the next three years. 38% of CIOs surveyed plan to implement loyalty systems — with customer data linked to buying patterns and behaviour — within the next three years.

The survey showed that IT budgets appear to be recovering after the initial downturn at the start of last year’s recession, with averages for all retailers at 1.3% of sales compared to 1% last year. Twenty-six percent of respondents expect their IT budget to increase; the same figure as last year. However, while last year’s survey showed that increase to relate to projects already underway, this year’s interviews revealed more aggressive plans to implement new systems. The survey of 109 retail CIOs and IT Directors in both the Americas and Europe was undertaken in Q4 2009 by Martec International.

Optimising the product/place/promotion offer is becoming an increasingly critical element of retail IT spend, the survey found. More than 50% of retailers will be upgrading, replacing or implementing new systems in areas such as automated replenishment (52%), assortment optimisation (58%), promotions optimisation (56%) and promotions management (54%), with a further 46% looking to invest in demand forecasting. Master Data Management (MDM) has the highest planned implementation of all applications studied in the survey, both across the enterprise (35%) and for supplier management (28%).

“The top line statistics from this year’s survey, and indeed last year’s, suggest that the retail sector has survived the recession remarkably effectively,” says Allan Davies, CMO of Aldata Solution. “The truth is, though, that while the downturn hasn’t halted retailers’ IT spend, it has certainly changed the way that money is spent. Gone are the days of end-to-end rip and replace projects, and instead we’re seeing a big focus on process optimisation. Retail CIOs are not afraid of investing in new projects, but they need to see a quick return on investment. And by quick, I’m talking about months, not years.”

Readers can download the full survey findings free of charge from Aldata’s website.

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