Retailers turn to the web

Slick new websites and e-commerce facilities are set to be the biggest focus for retailers this year, according to a study by technology provider, Sage Australia.

But the sector is falling behind other tech-savvy businesses, with retailers 20 per cent less likely to invest in technology in the next 12 months than other types of business.

Retailers are also more than twice as likely to report declining business performance in 2013 compared to other businesses, found the Sage Australia Business Index 2013.

The annual study of Australian business trends, attitudes, and expectations, surveyed more than 400 business owners and decision makers across all business sizes and industries.

Sage found one of the biggest business technology trends of the past 12 months has been the adoption of mobile tools and technologies.

But the only mobility technologies to gain significant attention from retailers are those that offer potential benefit to customers, namely mobile enabled websites and mobile apps.

Retail businesses are almost eight times more likely to offer all their services via an app, and three times as likely to offer at least some of their services via a mobile app.

Alan Osrin, MD, Sage Software Australia, says “consumer caution, intense competition, a high Australian dollar and years of tight margins” have forced retailers to turn their attention to mobile.

“There’s little efficiency yet to be eked out of the business and little confidence conditions will change,” he says.

“That’s why their focus has turned to their websites and very specific mobile technologies that might just help them to retain existing customers and reach new ones.”

Retailers are more than twice as likely to have a mobile or tablet optimised website than other businesses, at 27 per cent compared to 11 per cent.

If they don’t already have a mobile-optimised website, they are more than three times likely to be planning to implement such a site in two or more years, at 25 per cent compared to 8 per cent.

The findings suggest that the majority of retailers recognise value in a mobile-optimised site, but many plan to wait for a couple of years before taking action.

Retailers (30 per cent) said they are less likely than all other businesses (51 per cent) to invest in technology in the next 12 months.

Retailers are also less likely to invest in social media as a sales tool as well. Instead, the major technology priority for retailers in 2013 is website development and upgrades.

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