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European retailers fearing for festive operations in store

New research from Sony Professional Displays and Solutions reveals UK and German retailers in particular are concerned about being undercut on price from online competition, but are being proactive as a result, with increased in-store investments

Despite retailers entering the first un-disrupted Christmas since 2019, close to half (43%) of those in the Europe are concerned about being undercut on price from online competition, Sony Professional Solutions Europe has found. This proportion rises to 1 in 2 (50%) in Germany, whilst 42% and 36% of UK and French retailers respectively share these concerns.

A survey of 750 IT managers and buyers in the retail space across UK, France, and Germany found that retailers are being proactive in response, as four fifths (78%) are investing in in-store operations ahead of what over half (59%) say is their most important time of the year, with France (73%) falling behind the UK (82%) and Germany (79%) in their efforts.

While experiential product testing was a narrow front-runner overall (31%), when it comes to more cost-effective measures, retailers are taking to defend their business through revamping their pricing strategy (30%). Other common areas of investment were a quality end-to end customer experience (29%), a personalised customer experience (28%) and staff training (28%).

Aside from staff training (41%), ensuring digital signage is utilised to promote offers and synchronised across stores and online is the biggest priority for in-store business this holiday period (39%). However, when it comes to actual investment, less than 3 in 10 (28%) have committed to making changes this year, indicative of the myriad of issues retailers have on their plate ahead of a critical period.

“The high-street has had a long-term struggle since the dawn of e-commerce, the extent of which is demonstrated by the limitations on cost-effective choices they’re able to make when it comes to self-investment,” said Damien Weissenburger, head of professional displays & solutions Europe. “During this ‘cost of doing business’ crisis, being smart with spending, not just money but energy and resources, is at its most crucial, and Sony are on-hand to be a partner to businesses to help them by providing high-impact but low-cost and sustainable solutions to their digital signage needs.”

Perhaps the biggest vote of confidence for in-store operations was the finding that all retailers surveyed said they were planning to invest in their in-store experience in 2023.

For next year, sustainable technology (42%) and digital signage (38%) top the priorities for major retailers, to reduce their carbon footprint and offer a joined-up approach across stores respectively. The latter is a priority that rises to almost half (45%) for retailers with over 100 sites, showing scale requires efficient and consistent operations for both the business and its branding.