Next has established an innovation hub in a bid to recover its former tech prowess, Retail Week has learnt.
The hub, which sits under Next’s user experience team, is intended to supercharge the retailer’s focus on technological innovation. It was established last year.
The mid-market retailer was formerly a market leader in areas including multichannel and fulfilment, but has fallen behind in personalisation and AI as digitally led businesses such as Asos and Shop Direct have led the charge on innovation.
At its annual results last week, Next boss Lord Wolfson said that the retailer was stepping up its game in technology in an effort to catch up with those that have pulled ahead in recent years.
Current projects include a new data management platform, a new content management system, a customer segmentation system and an optimisation and testing platform.
Wolfson said: “We’ve just significantly increased our level of investment in both systems and marketing – especially for big pieces of third-party software – and we have no intention of relaxing the rate at which we invest.”
He added that the business had “learned a lot of lessons” from online competition, knew that it needed to innovate much more quickly in the digital space and regretted not investing more heavily in technology at an earlier stage. He said: “I wish we had done it three years ago.”