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Retailers under pressure from tech savvy Canadians
Written by Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery   
Apr. 10, 2012, Toronto — International Data Corp. (IDC Canada) and the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) have released the results of their first survey on Canadian retail executives' perspectives on information technology.

The survey is part of IDC Canada and RCC's new relationship, which aims to provide RCC members with Canadian specific technology research and access to IDC's global retail insights survey.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and are leveraging multiple channels to carry out their shopping activities, including shopping not only online and in brick and mortar stores, but in all channels at once by walking the store aisles with a smartphone to compare prices, obtain the best deal, leverage coupons and order online from another supplier in some cases," read a press release issued by the RCC and IDC Canada.

"Retailers in turn, are feeling the heat, with immense pressure to differentiate themselves based on customer experience with products and services. Retailers are also feeling the pressure to support product use with applications and infrastructure that facilitate innovation rather than impede change."

The survey uncovered an overwhelming trend toward increased capital and technology spending, emphasizing activities that improve customer and employee engagements, and making efficient and effective use of this spending and investment.

Highlights from the survey include:
  • Forty-two per cent of retailers will increase capital spending for 2012, with a 44 per cent increase in technology spending.
  • Workforce management and mobile applications are the leading areas for technology investment in the next 12 months.
  • Retailers expressed interest in cloud-based solutions for applications that are inherently web-based or non-core retail, including infrastructure, HR and other back office systems.
  • Canadian retailers seem more willing to outsource solutions than U.S. retailers. This willingness may position them for bigger leaps in innovation.
  • Mobile ranked very high, with more than 20 per cent of those surveyed looking at leveraging generic smart handheld phones and tablets, as well as retail specific mobile devices.
  • Retailers are generally driving traffic using various mechanisms, some of which are traditional. Most find that they need to leverage all avenues to some degree, depending on diversified consumer segments with various needs: direct mail, online ads, digital and group buying coupons, location-based offers, QR code-based marketing, in-store marketing and social media.
Canadian retail executives polled also revealed that the speed at which specific technologies — namely mobile, bring your own device, social networking, and productivity applications — are evolving at the consumer level and not at the enterprise level, pose considerable challenges for retailers.
 
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