UK High Street Struggles With IT Amidst £11bn M-Commerce Boom

A research report sponsored by NetSuite Inc. (NYSE: N), the industry’s leading vendor of cloud-based financials / ERP software suites, today revealed that the UK high street is expecting £11bn in growth from m-commerce in the year ahead. The report is based on economic models provided by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and primary research of 200 UK high street retail managers, including 7 of the top 10 retailers in the UK, conducted by Vanson Bourne and announced by NetSuite today. The full report, “The Retail and Wholesale Distribution Trends Report,” is available for free download here.

Despite the UK’s recent return to recession and a downbeat retail environment over the last few months, the majority of high street retailers remain positive, with an average expected increase in revenue of 10 percent. The huge growth in consumer smartphone and tablet uptake is reflected in retailers’ development of mobile services, with nearly three quarters (73 percent) already either running a mobile-optimised eCommerce site or a smartphone app, rising to 80 percent when you include those that plan to build one or the other in the next 12 months. The report also reveals concern over how consumers use their rivals’ mobile offerings, with over half (52 percent) of retailers viewing such apps and sites as a threat to their sales.

The biggest challenges for retailers in developing and delivering an m-commerce experience are integration with other e-commerce systems (38 percent), lack of budget (37 percent) and a lack of understanding on how to deliver a compelling experience (15 percent).

“In the context of a difficult macroeconomic climate, retailers seem positive in their expectations for revenue growth. The estimates from retailers may prove to be somewhat optimistic, but, the relative importance of the higher expected growth rates among retailers with e-commerce and m-commerce revenue streams means that these revenue channels are likely to become increasingly important.” says Colin Edwards, Economist at CEBR.

Andy Lloyd, General Manager of Commerce Products for NetSuite, comments: “Few people would have guessed that m-commerce would move from a nice-to-have to an essential part of your e-commerce sales platform this quickly. Most retailers are now in a race to get their house in order and deliver a mobile channel for their customers before they lose out to the competition. With margins tight and under pressure from online comparison sites, integration into core platforms is vital to ensure an efficient operation and retailers need to ensure that they have a state-of-the-art Web storefront, which sits on a central system to manage all B2C and B2B transactions across any touchpoint, including websites, smartphones, tablets, social media and in-store. Automation across these platforms is also key – as having to re-input data or manage a complex integration project can set back profitability on an m-commerce investment dramatically.”

NetSuite SuiteCommerce, launched in May 2012 at NetSuite SuiteWorld, is a new commerce-aware platform that provides a central system to manage all transactions and associated customer interactions with consumers and other businesses over multiple touchpoints (website, smartphone, social media site, in-store, etc.) supporting Commerce as a Service across multiple channels. For more information, please click here.

The report investigates top m-commerce app platforms for the UK high street, with Apple’s iOS (48 percent of retailers have an Apple app) maintaining a minor lead on Google’s Android (45 percent) despite the latter’s larger overall market share. More surprising, Windows Phone, despite having a very small market share amongst consumers, is in third place with 30 percent of retailers having apps for that platform. Blackberry holds the wooden spoon with just 23 percent of retailers deploying apps for RIM’s mobile platform.

For more insights, including perspectives on the potential for social commerce, international sales, and for insights from the suppliers to the UK high street, the wholesale/distribution industry, please download the full report “The Retail and Wholesale Distribution Trends Report,” here.

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