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.