Over the coming year, the United States retail industry aims to invest in data analysis tools and solutions linked to mobile technology and the Internet. The goal is to improve and refine the customer relationship.

US Retail Industry Keen to Invest in Technology

The current crisis does not seem to have shaken the US retail industry too much since in 2011 cash levels, revenues and headcount were all up on 2010, according to a report on the sector from KPMG LLP, the US member firm of KPMG International, who conducted a survey among 107 senior retail executives. Some 77% of the executives polled revealed that they had more cash on their balance sheets than the previous year. Nevertheless, 61% of the respondents don't expect substantial economic recovery until 2014-2015 or later. However, retailers can't simply wait around for the economy to bounce back in order to fuel growth and 58% of the executives interviewed say they plan to increase overall capital spending over the next year, mainly investing in key areassuch as technology and customer engagement. 

Key success factors: investing in the Internet and mobile technologies

Investment in technology is set to spearhead capital spending, with 51% of the senior executives intending to make investment in ICT a priority, especially data analytics and digital marketing channels.  Some 43% said they would invest in new products and services, 33% cited geographical expansion including opening new stores, while 24% planned to spend on advertising and marketing. Asked which technologies they thought would have the most significant impact on sales, the executives cited three main areas: online shopping (59%), social media platforms (58%) and email campaigns (49%). Behind these three, the potential benefits of mobile technology on retail firms’ balance sheets did not go unnoticed, with 36% citing mobile shopping, 28% mobile promotions and 21% pointing to mobile payments technology.

Making use of the data

The KPMG report’s findings also point up the strategic role of technology, whether on mobile devices or the Internet, which enables data to be collected and then analysed.  Retail executives indicate that data analytics is now playing a greater role in their strategic decision-making. Harnessing the vast amounts of data garnered will not only enable retailers to interact with customers more effectively but also reveal information on potential new markets, new strategies and new operating models that may generate growth and profitability, reckon the KPMG sector experts.