The amount spent on technology by retailers across the globe will top $203bn (£161.2bn) in 2019, new research has revealed.

A World in Motion, produced by Tech. – a collaboration between Retail Week and World Retail Congress – found retailers will spend $203.6bn (£161.7bn) this year, up 3.6% on 2018 levels.

The increase in spending comes as retailers recognise the need to radically reshape their businesses and leverage technologies such as AI, robotics and voice recognition.

With such new technologies advancing rapidly, retailers across the globe believe the need for digital transformation has become more urgent during the past three years.

The report, produced ahead of the two-day Tech. festival in October, found 88% of UK retailers thought the need for digital transformation had increased since 2016.

Three-quarters of American retailers surveyed also said that the necessity for tech and digital-led change had accelerated. All of the French retailers questioned said the same, while 90% of German businesses also agreed.

Retail leaders in all four countries where Tech. conducted research said a new leadership mindset was required in order to drive successful digital transformation in their businesses.

Three-quarters of UK retailers agreed new thinking at the top was required, compared to 90% of chief executives in France, 80% in Germany and 65% in the US.

Despite the growing need for tech-led change, 34.4% of UK retailers said they were only planning to invest between £100,000 and £500,000 in technology over the next 18 months.

And with so much new technology emerging, opinions appear to be split on where retailers should invest that capital expenditure.

US retailers said they had prioritised payments technology, while French retailers are focusing on AI, with half of the retailers surveyed in that country deploying robotics. Some 60% of German retailers have invested in voice technology as a priority.

Tech. event director Poppie Mickleburgh said: “This report is critical to highlighting the differences across regions, and the impact that customers in those countries can have on the pace and focus of the digital transformation. It is also important to highlight that there are lessons to be learnt across regions and that not one geography is ahead of the curve.

“Retailers must look outside of their direct competitors and country-specific counterparts to seek ideas and innovations to drive their businesses forward.”

  • To download A World in Motion, which covers topics from leadership and business structures to technologies and partnerships, click here.

Tech. takes place on October 2 and 3 at London’s Printworks, bringing together more than 3,000 delegates from more than 40 countries.

Attendees from retailers, start-ups, brands, FMCGs and leading universities across the globe will gather to build a shared understanding of how we transform commerce together.

For more information about Tech. and to book your tickets, click here.