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retail technology trendsA recent study by Gartner, entitled ‘Hunting and Harvesting in a Digital World: The 2013 CIO Agenda’ offers a startling insight into the reluctance of businesses to invest in new technology.

In total, 2,053 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from 41 countries were surveyed, and most revealed that the amount that their organisations were investing in IT, although totalling some $230 billion, has been steadily decreasing over the past few years. In addition, most reported no plans to increase investment in this area in the near future.

In a week when HMV looks to be on the verge of collapse, according to many as a result of its own failure to adopt new technology, we look at some of the trends that retailers simply cannot afford to ignore if they are to remain competitive this year.

Multi channel

The high street recently announced its Christmas trading figures and it’s no surprise that among the winners are those with a strong physical and virtual presence. In this age of multi-channel retailing, consumers want the convenience of being able to browse online, with the ability to physically collect an item the same day.

Once-ailing Argos have reported buoyant trading figures, in no small part due to their successful ‘click and collect’ service, which has been emulated by several other retailers. Commenting in Retail Week , Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King observed that: “Click-and-collect is bigger than it’s ever been. Online is a growing channel but the ability of customers to be able to mix and match between online and physical stores remains key.”

If you are a bricks and clicks retailer, making sure that your online and offline inventory are updated in real time is going to be essential in 2013.

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Mobile devices

Shop Direct Group, one of the UK’s largest retailers, have invested heavily in mobile websites, and this has paid dividends over the Christmas period. The Telegraph reports that the group, which trades under brand names such as Littlewoods and Very , saw the amount of transactions from mobile sites increase by over 100% on last year, accounting for more than 28% of total spend.

One of the very first things that needs to be on every retailer’s agenda this year is ensuring that their website is mobile and tablet accessible.

Streaming

Both HMV and Blockbuster have been left behind by the digital age. Both have been punished by their failure to adapt to new technology and the resultant change in the habits of consumers. In both cases, the advent of streaming media via an increasing array of devices has made their products redundant.

The fact that Tesco has entered into this space recently with its Blinkbox service speaks volumes about the level of demand for streaming.

Big data

Big data is one of the biggest buzzwords being bandied about at the moment, but Gartner’s report highlighted a serious lack of time and resources being devoted to it.

Thanks to software such as Google Analytics, retailers have never had so much information about their customers to play with. However, ensuring that this data is effectively gathered, and more importantly, actioned is one of the biggest challenges that retailers will face. Successful businesses will need to invest in both the technology and resources to handle data this year.

Image courtesy of IT Stategists

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