Retailers Willing to Invest More in Tech; Retailers Can Win With Voice in the Holidays

RetailTechNews’ weekly roundup brings you up-to-date research findings from around the world. In this week’s edition: Retailers Willing to Invest More in Tech; Retailers Can Win with Voice in the Holidays; and Social Driving Black Friday Spending.

Retailers Willing to Invest More in Tech

Global retail sector technology spending will grow 3.6% to reach almost USD$203.6bn (£159.9bn) in 2019, with similar growth rates for the next two years, according to the latest forecast from Gartner. Customer expectations and competition are forcing retailers to evolve and invest heavily in digital business transformation.

Relative to other industries, retail has traditionally been a laggard in terms of appetite for change, digital maturity and, hence, technology spend. However, according to Gartner, this is no longer the case, and retail now surpasses most other industries with regard to IT spend.

Retailers Willing to Invest More in Tech

Software is the fastest growing category of technology spending (see table 1), as retail CIOs prioritise analytics, digital marketing, mobile applications, e-commerce platforms, and artificial intelligence (AI) as the technologies most crucial to their organisation’s mission.

Gartner predicts that by 2023 Alibaba and Amazon will have captured 40% market share of global online retail, up from 33% in 2017.

Retailers Can Win with Voice in the Holidays

More consumers will be turning to the likes of Alexa and Google Home to buy their Christmas gifts this year, research from Conversant, Epsilon, and LoyaltyOne has revealed. According to the report, a third (31%) of consumers made Christmas purchases via a voice assistant last year.  

The report, which analysed consumer Christmas shopping trends, also showed that mobile is increasing its Christmas shopping dominance. According to the research, two-thirds (66%) of Christmas digital orders in 2017 were on a phone or tablet, an increase from 58% in 2016; while Christmas Day in-app purchases were up 12% compared with the previous year.

The option to multitask is the big draw for voice and mobile shoppers. Two-fifths (40%) of consumers do their Christmas shopping while watching TV and a third (31%) when flipping through social media. In fact, more than half (55%) of consumers have made a purchase via a social media channel, yet only two-fifths (40%) of retailers currently offer social media as a purchase channel.

While mobile shopping and new tech are on the rise, traditional stores do still have their place at Christmas. The report revealed that 88% of consumers still make in-store purchases during the Christmas period – but marketers shouldn’t consider these in-store experiences separate from online shopping activities.

According to the research, 46% of consumers start their shopping in-store and then purchase online; while more than half (58%) first browse online and buy their Christmas shopping in-store. For those marketers wishing to target younger shoppers, the vast majority (78%) were revealed to shop both in-store and online.

Social Driving Black Friday Spending

Social networks have strengthened their role as a product research channel year-on-year, achieving a 39% increase since 2015, according to a study by GlobalWebIndex. This is being driven by innovations in product search functionalities across platforms like Instagram, which recently introduced product tags to support native product discovery.

Today, 42% of global internet users predominantly conduct research about brands, products, and services through social networks, putting them just 10 percentage points behind search engines. What’s more, 49% of UK and 53% of U.S. consumers are now converting through social platforms. The most popular platform is Facebook, through which 39% of UK respondents stated they have made a purchase.

The same research highlights that when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns, social shopping tendencies are amplified by as much as 66% in the UK, with only a quarter of respondents saying they wouldn’t purchase through social media, even after seeing a sales offer during the discount weekend.

One of the most popular platforms for purchasing after seeing a Black Friday or Cyber Monday advert is Instagram. A quarter of UK respondents identify a better preview of the product as a core reason for their choice of platform to buy through. This rises to 31% in the U.S. According to GlobalWebIndex data, on a global level, mobile payments are steadily increasing each quarter and have grown by 14.7% since 2015.