Image Source: Hamza Butt
Rebecca Wayman

Ignoring technology could cost independent retailers thousands this Christmas

Research collected by YouGov Plc has shown that only seven per cent of SMEs surveyed in the retail sector invest in technology to meet peak trading periods, like Christmas.

This can potentially put themselves at an advantage against the high-street and online giants like Amazon and John Lewis. 31 per cent of SME retail decision makers instead suggested they could stay competitive by implementing longer working hours.

The research showed that independent retailers hire an average of three additional staff seasonally to manage these busy periods, which results to around £11,880 in wages for staff.

Derek O’Carroll, CEO at BrightPearl, commented on the findings: “These results highlight how many retailers are neglecting to invest in technology that could save them precious time and money during their busiest period of the year.

“This does not bode well for smart and mid-sized retailers who will not be able to compete with the likes of Amazon with their Prime offering, if they continue to ignore the operational advantages that technology offers.

“Instead, they are turning to short-term, inefficient solutions like hiring more staff or increasing their inventory levels that may actually end up hurting their bottom line.”

The research highlighted that a quarter of decision makers from such SMEs and small retailers would be more likely to adopt new technology solutions that help streamline their business’ back office and inventory work.

Lee Adams, managing director of garden furniture specialist Alexander Francis, said: “Before we adopted a technology platform, we really struggled to manage peak sales periods while still providing great customer service.

“Now, we use a scalable cloud-based system which automates our inventory, financials, order processing and fulfilment processes, [meaning] we can focus on growth rather than chasing our tails during the busiest sales periods.”

O’Carroll added that the like of retail automation should be considered to take care of back-office functions and therefore enable financial savings and allow for time to focus on customers.

Retail automation technology has been shown to help retailers save around 57.5 days per year by getting rid of time spent on meaningless administrative tasks. In turn, customer negativity as a result of this service has been reduced by up to 65 per cent.

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