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The retail investment conundrum

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Did you know that the UK has the highest proportion of over 65s shopping online? The UK it seems has embraced e-commerce to an extent unseen in any other European country and only matched outside the EU by the US and increasingly China. But in neither of these countries do you find so many ‘seniors’ online.

And this is shaping how retailers invest in technology. According to a study by Colliers International not only are retailers increasingly targeting their investment in ecommerce to cope with demand, but that mobile is become an ever more important part of that investment.

Similarly, a study out by Martec International backs this up, showing how investment in mobile is often the much more cost effective way to spend on IT than investment in anything else – and that shifting spend within 150 leading retailers that it has assesses backs this up.

The findings of these two studies backs up our own InternetRetailing report that we carried out with Mobify – published in this white paper that you really should download for free – which shows just how an investment in mobile can be the way to create best ROI on your 2017 ecommerce budget investment.

The world, it seems, is listening.

What is interesting about the two studies out this week is that they both point to how important investing in mobile payments is becoming. In fact, it is looking like the single most important investment many retailers that have bricks and clicks can do.

The reason is simple. Consumers are increasingly adopting mobile payments as a quick and easy way to make payments in stores and retailers need to be ready.

Hearteningly, 69% of retailers already have mobile payment technology in place, with the UK leading the way globally with 85% of UK retailers using mobile payments, says eCommera in another study.

But eCommera offers an interesting counterpoint. Mobile payments are really big in metropolitan areas, largely where people like you and me hang out, and so we see it as the norm. Go outside London, Manchester, Leeds or Cardiff and you find that adoption – even knowledge of – mobile payments is very low.

I was in Mansfield the other day (long story) and while the cafes and bars had wifi (largely it turned out because downtown Mansfield appears to be a signal black spot for O2), no one was paying with Apple Pay (except me, of course!).

But it proves a point and offers up a difficult choice for retailers: mobile payments are coming, but in a geographically staggered way so you need to invest in them, but can you afford to divert funds there when no one is using them? It’s chicken an egg. Hopefully, some of the studies and reports outlined in this week’s newsletter will help you make up your mind – once Black Friday is out the way of course.

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