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Retailers in London's Oxford Street and Regent Street have been relatively slow to emply digital technology to improve the in-store experience for customers, so says a new study.

Tech provider Omnico has carried out a survey more than 90 retailers for uses of 17 different technologies, including reserve and collect, wi-fi, kiosks, iPads and more. 

The retailers studied are using an average of two technologies, while 30% of retailers don’t use any at all. 

Web technology has a big part to play in the future of the high street, so who's using what? 

In-store tech: the stats

The most popular technologies in use by West End retailers were click and collect (44% of stores) and video screens (35%).

There are some surprising stats. Though wi-fi seems to be offered in lots of places now, just 14% were offering this, and just 8% are using tablets to assist customers. 

The best performing retailers in the study were EE, Apple, Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis and Nike, all using six or more of these customer-facing technologies.

Let's take a look at some of the uses for in-store tech... 

Click and Collect

This is a popular one with consumers and a proven sales driver, so it's no surprise that this is the most adopted technology. 

Our recent multichannel retail survey found that 79% of consumers had used reserve and collect at least once in the past year. 

Do you reserve products online before collecting them in store? How often?

It works too:

  • Halfords introduced a click-and-collect service three years ago and now 86% of all its sales are for in-store collection.
  • Argos is another great example: its ‘check and reserve’ service accounted for 31% of total online sales in Q4 2012.

Of course, there can be challenges in setting up reserve and collect services, but I'd expect to see this 44% figure rising over the next couple of years. 

In-store wi-fi

This is a relatively simple thing to set up, and one that can help to appeal to the growing number of smartphone users, who will appreciate not having to use their mobile data allowances or pay for data.

In fact, recent stats from JiWire found that 44% of all age groups say that the availability of in-store wi-fi influences where they shop

In addition, it can work for in-store promotions too. According to an OnDeviceResearch survey, 74% of respondents would be happy for a retailer to send a text or email with promotions while they’re using in-store wi-fi.

It does help if you have a mobile site to direct customers to for product research, to keep them from the clutches of Amazon and other competitors


This is relatively expensive tech, so it's no surprise that just 9% are using these. They allow customers to check stock online and make purchases there and then. 

Providing them removes the need for people to ask in-store staff (let's face it, some people just don't like doing this) and when used well they can have a bit of a 'wow' factor. 

Here's an example from Tesco, with card payment available on the bottom right so customers don't need to enter card details on screen. I've seen these in M&S too. 

Mobiles for checkout

Just 3% employ this, but I think this could be a valuable tool. This is a great way to ease queues in stores through mobile technology, as well as allowing greater interaction between staff and customers. 

After helping customers out, staff can whip out the mobile and take a payment by card on the spot. No need to wait at the sales counter, and less time for customers to change their minds. And people hate queues. 

Moosejaw mobile POS

Retailer Moosejaw is seeing up to 70% of in-store transactions taking place via iPod touch devices used by staff to take payments. 

For more on the use of tech in offline retail, see this post on uses of mobile by retailers, or our How the Internet can Save the High Street report. 

Graham Charlton

Published 18 October, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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