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Opportunities available: Innovative retailers required

Fujitsu research reveals a lack of future investment in technologies to improve the customer experience

June 06, 2006

Fujitsu Services, one of Europe's leading IT services companies, has conducted research, in conjunction with the 2006 Retail Solutions conference, amongst Europe's top retail companies to evaluate retailers' current and planned use of technology to improve the customer experience. The findings, to be announced at Retail Solutions today, reveal that the tough economic environment is causing retailers to view technology as an enabler to cutting costs rather than a means of investing in new services to differentiate themselves from their competitors. It also shows that whilst a small number of top retailers are continually investing in improving their offering – the majority of retailers are not planning to invest in new technologies over the next five years.

Bill Waterson, UK head of retail at Fujitsu Services, comments: “Whilst retailers are aware of changing consumer behaviour they are not taking a long term view of investment in the overall customer experience. This presents an opportunity for innovative retailers to surge ahead of the competition by differentiating themselves through the development of initiatives that will allow the customer to interact with the retailer in a way that meets their evolving needs. In order for retailers to do this they will need to start viewing technology as a tool to develop their offering rather than just cost cutting.”

He continues: “If retailers had not taken a long view five years ago they would never have invested in the Internet, EPoS and self-scanning technologies, which have all been widely adopted across the industry. Retailers now need to look ahead at the wide ranging technologies that are available to help them exceed their customers' expectations.”

Of the 75 retail operations and marketing managers questioned, 91% said that budget constraints are an important business challenge and 71% said that technology is being used more to streamline the business and reduce costs rather than improve the customers' experience.

Many retailers are focused on the point of purchase as the most important element of a customer's shopping experience rather than looking at all aspects of their interaction with the brand. As a result, faster cheque and credit authorisation is the technology that most (23%) retailers plan to invest in over the next two years.

The most important technical challenge is the updating of outdated PoS systems – 42% said it was very important and 27% thought it was quite important. This was followed by lack of integration of store systems (42% very important/19% quite important) and inability to manage information security risks (34% very important/32% quite important).

  • The research was commissioned by Fujitsu Services in conjunction with Retail Solutions
  • It is taken from 75 telephone interviews conducted between 6 April and 12 May 2006
  • Mintel's list of Europe's top 250 companies was used as a basis for the research
  • 50 interviews were conducted with retailers in the UK and 25 in mainland Europe
  • A mix of senior retail operations management (39%), store operations management (11%) and marketing management (50%) were interviewed
  • A variety of retail sectors were included in the research:
    • o 28% food / grocery
    • 23% clothing, fashion, footwear, jewellery and accessories
    • 15% household goods
    • 12% electronics
    • 8% pharmacy / health & beauty
    • 7% mixed goods / department store
    • 4% financial services
    • 4% toys / entertainment / books / computer games

About Fujitsu Services

Fujitsu Services is one of the leading IT services companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa . It has an annual turnover of £1.74 billion, (€2.58 billion) employs 14,500 people and operates in over 20 countries. It designs, builds and operates IT systems and services for customers in the financial services, telecom, retail, utilities and government markets. Its core strength is the delivery of IT infrastructure management and outsourcing across desktop, networking and data centre environments, together with a full range of related services, from consulting through integration and deployment. Headquartered in London , Fujitsu Services is the European-centred IT services arm of the Fujitsu Group. The Fujitsu Group is a US$45 billion (€37 billion) leader in customer-focused IT systems and services for the global marketplace.

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Graham Goulden

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Company:Fujitsu Services

Date: 06 June, 2006