Legacy IT 'is holding back innovation in retail'

retail shops

A report by the Daisy retail group has revealed legacy IT systems are holding back organisations, preventing them from fostering innovation, which means they cannot keep up with the competition.

The company's survey questioned 100 marketing and customer experience professionals from UK retailers, who are all being asked to carry out research and new marketing exercises in order to find new customers and build relationships with existing shoppers.

The report revealed that 69 per cent of respondents think complex IT is delaying the speed with which they can roll out innovative tools, while almost half of organisations think the IT department is preventing them from being innovative in general.

A total 67 per cent of those surveyed thought it was the legacy IT systems holding them back, meaning they were less competitive than other companies with modern infrastructure.

"The importance of the store as part of a retailer's future plans cannot be underestimated; more than half of the retailers we surveyed said improving the in-store experience was their biggest focus. However, there is a danger that this could be undermined if technology infrastructures fail to catch up," James Pickering, retail specialist at Daisy Corporate Services, said.

"The old approach of buying a piece of equipment and using it for 20 years is now making retailers less competitive, compared to those using technologies that are faster and more flexible."

However, the majority of companies said they would be investing in innovation in the future. Self service portals were the most likely investment, with 53 per cent of respondents saying they were pushing for the systems to support them, while 49 per cent would like to start using digital signage. 49 per cent said improving their website was a priority and 48 per cent would like to leverage data and analytics to improve the information they collect about their customers.

"Ensuring the consumer's in-store experience is both comfortable and feels consistent to the brand is vital for success," Pickering continued. "Our research shows that retailers' marketing and customer experience teams are keen to innovate, but it is clear that they need the IT support to ensure that the future in-store customer experience is delivered on.

"At a time when events such as Brexit' are creating uncertainty in the market, retailers need to carefully consider the investment they make to improve the in-store experience so that it benefits both the business and consumer."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.