It’s been an important year for technology in retail - everything from mobile to multichannel to data has attracted more attention than technologists are perhaps used to receiving.

It’s been an important year for technology in retail - everything from mobile to multichannel to data has attracted more attention than technologists are perhaps used to receiving.

A few years ago, for instance, it would have been unheard of for one of Tesco’s big PR initiatives to centre on a technology project, but in 2012 that is exactly what happened. The retailer’s shopping wall, which enables shoppers at Gatwick Airport to scan and buy products on their mobile so their fridge is stocked when they return home from holiday, attracted plenty of Tesco’s marketing budget and generated equal amounts of column inches.

Retailers increasingly want to be seen as innovative and ahead of the game. They have seen what digital technology has done for Burberry, and slowly, as budgets allow, others are following in the luxury giant’s footsteps. The investment is by necessity a slow and steady one in most cases - it is not the best economic environment to throw money at gadgets that have no real business case.

But as multichannel develops, more retailers are starting to think carefully about what technology can do for them. There are real business problems that can be solved with multichannel technology - such as aligning online and store stock systems, or combining shopper location data with marketing offers.

Click-and-collect services have blossomed this year, with everything from drive-through grocery outlets to ever-more convenient delivery services launching.

This kind of project is not just about PR - they can and will result in sales uplifts, and retailers are finding that the right multichannel projects pay for themselves quickly.

It’s not all about consumer-facing projects either - behind the scenes, data analytics and consumer information has entered a new phase of importance.

Great strides have been made in the data, mobile and multichannel areas, and they continue to be fascinating areas to watch as things develop throughout 2013. It is set to be another good year for tech as this momentum continues to build and as long as real business questions are posed, technology will continue to reap ever-greater rewards for retailers.