New study reveals the top 10 technology investments online companies are planning for 2021

In-depth research conducted with the leaders of 500 of the UK’s most influential retailers has revealed what technologies will be at the forefront of retail strategies for the year ahead.

The new study by Brightpearl set out to reveal what types of software retailers are set to invest in next year by polling hundreds of online retailers from across the UK and found that 68% of companies are planning to increase their technology investment over the next 12 months.

Growth projections estimate that by 2023, online e-commerce sales will exceed $29.7 trillion worldwide. According to the study, 56% of shoppers say they are spending more online since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which highlights how integral online shopping has become to Brits, particularly as we move into the ‘Golden Quarter’ for retailers.

Brightpearl’s study found that the major technology initiatives online firms are prioritising in 2021 includes web personalisation (64%), social media marketing (63%) and a broadening of online payment options (62%).

“It’s admirable that so many brands are offering new services to benefit customers”, says Derek O’Carroll, CEO, Brightpearl. “Though it’s noticeable that online brands are once again prioritising the pre-purchase journey over the post-buy button experience with regards to their investments. Long-term, this can have a major impact on customer experience”.

Brightpearl’s same survey reveals that 61% of consumers have experienced issues buying from brands online within the past 12 months alone.

The study also found 77% of all poor online shopping experiences are directly related to problems after the buy button like issues with delivery and returns.

“In the race to attract direct sales, few e-commerce brands are addressing the operational complexities that lie beyond the buy button” says O’Carroll. “As a result they end up letting down customers who are understandably upset about not receiving items on time, products not being delivered where they should be, or poor communications after their purchase. Companies weighing up technology investments for next year should start with making sure they have the right infrastructure in place to deliver an optimal shopping experience at all ends of the buying journey.”

Despite the growth in e-commerce and planned investments, the survey also found that 40% of retailers have been put off completely from making a technology investment because of the array of software options that are available to them.

Of concern, half of UK retailers have made no preparations for the second wave of Covid-19, which has brought about fresh restrictions and huge potential demand challenges for online firms.

“Retailers realise that they need to leverage technology on a global scale before they become irrelevant, but the array of choice can make it difficult to determine where to start”, adds O’Carroll.

“Unfortunately, time is not a luxury retailers have. Covid is like a ‘meteor’ hitting the retail sector and is going to result in the eradication of many businesses if they do not adapt fast. Retailers should take the time to run through an honest audit of the complete customer experience, identifying improvements and bottlenecks at all ends of the buying experience, and then look to recruit the right partners that can help ensure the entire retail operation is fit for purpose.”

Top 10 Investment Priorities For 2021

  1. Web personalisation (64%)
  2. social media marketing (63%)
  3. Increased online payment options (62%
  4. Inventory management software (62%)
  5. Barcode scanning technology (61%)
  6. Delivery tracking (59%)
  7. Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (58%)
  8. Order management software (57%
  9. Returns management software (56%)
  10. Business intelligence and performance reporting (55%)

Brightpearl’s full study can be found here. The firm has also developed a free online health check to help retailers to gauge whether they are ready for the second wave of COVID.

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