Retailers are turning to technology to keep up with the demands of high street shoppers, with recent research finding that 7 out of 10 consumers use the internet to inform how they shop and make savings.
According to the latest Barclays Business Barometer, small retailers are leading the way with almost 66 per cent open to adopting new tech.
Almost all retailers polled for the bank’s research said harnessing data is key to their future success (93 per cent). The past year has seen retailers already actively investing in cutting-edge technologies to enhance operations such as data analytics (18 per cent) and artificial intelligence and machine learning (12 per cent).
Small and medium sized retailers are also turning to technology investments to increase productivity (45 per cent), as well as future-proof their company (44 per cent). Notably, businesses investing in innovation are committing, on average, nearly half (48 per cent) of their annual revenue to technology.
Barclays’ researchers found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of retail SMEs are open to embracing new technology while, over two-fifths (41 per cent) have established dedicated technology teams within their business, each employing 13 people on average.
Colin O’Flaherty, head of SME at Barclaycard Payments, comments: “It’s promising to see that SMEs are feeling more optimistic about revenue growth and are eager to invest in cutting-edge technology to future-proof their companies. Retail SMEs in particular have displayed a remarkable agility in adapting to evolving consumer behaviours by adopting emerging technologies – setting the stage for a brighter year ahead.
“Small businesses are vital to the UK economy and play a key role in supporting employment, so the employee growth projections are also really encouraging for both business stability and economic prosperity.”
Barclays Business Barometer, which focuses on small businesses, also found SMEs are set to hire as many as 3.5 million people this quarter, with those anticipating growth planning to hire an average of eight new recruits over the next three months.
The results also indicate an increasing sense of optimism in the economy among UK SMEs, with 57 per cent reporting revenue growth in the last quarter – the highest level in 18 months. Sixty-two per cent expect this trend to continue over the next year.
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