The majority of UK retailers are now using mobile technology to improve store and supply chain productivity, according to retail business process consultancy Martec’s UK IT in Retail Report 2008/9, produced in partnership with Torex.

In 2005, only 20 per cent of retailers relied on hand-held devices for stocktaking, price checking, mark-down pricing and delivery scanning. That figure has now increased to 50 per cent of the 100 retailers surveyed, with a further 8 per cent piloting or planning to implement mobile technology in the next year.

“Mobile technology can now be considered mainstream. Our research shows this is a rapidly growing area of IT investment for retailers, with increasing penetration in the past four years,” said Martec practice manager Frances Riseley. “Feedback from IT directors shows that once retailers start using mobile technology they tend to add further applications very quickly.”

Enthusiasm for this technology contrasts sharply with the apathy towards radio frequency identification (RFID). To date, only one company – Marks & Spencer – has rolled out RFID, while the report shows 75 per cent of companies have “no plans” to implement it.

As in the previous three years of the survey, investment in store systems is seen as essential among chief information officers, with 24 per cent giving such systems top priority.

IT spend was calculated at 1.3 per cent of sales, showing no change from the last three years.

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