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January 13, 2014

Tech to super-charge Britain’s retail sector by up to £24bn in 2014

"Put online and mobile at the heart of the shopping experience or be left behind."

By Duncan Macrae

Retailers who prioritise online and mobile in 2014 could help to inject an additional £24billion into the UK economy, an O2 study has found.

For mid-sized retailers, such as Wickes or Mothercare, it could mean an annual boost of up to £66million each. O2’s ‘Future of Retail’ report demonstrates how technology is changing shoppers’ expectations as they demand a seamless experience from the shop floor to smartphone. The report highlights that retailers who respond to this demand will win out, with a projected 7.8% annual sales uplift.

The research shows, that following the introduction of mass market 4G last year, mobile is fuelling a new wave of ‘me-tailers’ who, armed with smartphones and tablets, are combining online and in store shopping experiences to get the best prices, latest products and tailored services. Nearly a quarter of shoppers (23%) say they will regularly use discount vouchers sent to their mobile phones whilst out shopping and one in five are keen to price check products online when on the high street.

The report also predicts a 12% rise in click and collect this year, as more than a third (34%) claimed to use the service over Christmas. The success of John Lewis’ Christmas season, which saw sales up 6.9% year on year and a 60% rise in click and collect, shows consumers were truly multichannel over the festive period.

The research also shows further opportunity for shoppers to use technology to save time in increasingly busy lives. Seven in ten think technology will make shopping more convenient while two thirds (64%) believe it will make them more efficient.

Retailers who fail to take advantage of the growth in mobile and connectivity by integrating clicks with mortar – combining strong online offerings and efficient in store experiences such as click-and-collect – will lose out in the battle for customers who demand a seamless shopping experience, according to O2.

Feilim Mackle, director of sales and services at O2, said: "It’s no coincidence that the winners in the Christmas high street sales battle this year – Next and John Lewis – saw profits driven by strong performances online and on mobile. Now more than ever, we’re seeing in clear financial terms how important it is to fully integrate clicks with mortar.

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"With the introduction of our 4G service last year UK shoppers, armed with their smartphones, expect a very different experience from retailers. Our research reveals the size of the prize for those who put online and mobile at the heart of the shopping experience. Put simply, those that don’t will be left behind."

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