UK retailers push forward with major tech projects
Written by Scott Thompson
Seventy one per cent of large UK retailers have a major software project in the pipeline, according to new research commissioned by Original Software. This was conducted by Martec and quizzed 42 retailers, with combined sales of £147 billion, 29,000 stores and equating to 46 per cent of the market by turnover. It found that ERP implementations and upgrades are the most common (a third have projects in this area). Joint second came e-commerce and store systems replacements and upgrades with 26 per cent of retailers each. Supply chain projects came in third (24 per cent).
At the same time, 69 per cent say they suffer with system bugs. E-commerce systems were singularly the most problematic for retailers, with 14 per cent saying they have problems with bugs. As one of the respondents from the survey, a head of IT at a fashion and lifestyle retailer explained: “It is difficult to test the website against every combination of device, browser and operating system and to simulate real-life conditions. The more functionally rich the website is, the more difficult it is to test.” The next most serious offenders are business intelligence, logistics/supply chain and store systems, with six per cent of retailers reporting problems with each. Thirty two per cent experienced “other” problems and many of these were components of ERP systems.
Colin Armitage, CEO at Original Software, says: “Since the financial crash, many retailers have been reluctant to invest in IT, even as they witnessed burgeoning online spending and the relative slow down on the High Street. However, incentivised by the creation of a multi-channel business model, many retailers need instant visibility of stock, sales and customers in all channels and new technology will help them achieve that. But tech investment of this nature is a risky undertaking and retailers have to be aware of the software glitches and bugs that can manifest themselves. Having a measured, strategic approach to software quality will help them to improve their business models, but protect them at the same time.”