A third of Britain's small and independent retailers fear they will no longer be relevant in a market being shaped more than ever by technology and changing consumer habits, according to new research.
Payments firm, Worldpay, found that just under two thirds (61%) of those surveyed said tech poses a significant threat to their survival, and half (50%) said it can get in the way of providing a personalised experience to customers. However, 88% said understanding and embracing new tech represents their best chance of survival.
Business owners in London and the south of England are most eager to embrace new technologies, with 95% of respondents across the region saying they're investing in tech to expand their online reach, improve the in-store experience and become more efficient. On the other hand, 28% of those in Scotland said they have not invested in tech to offer online sales or improved customer experience, while retailers in the Midlands were the least likely to have a website or to use social media.
Tim Campbell, Worldpay iStreet ambassador and Apprentice winner, said: "Regardless of the rapid changes in technology is bringing about to the way people interact with their High Streets, people still love them. By embracing the opportunities technological advances can present and listening to customers' needs there is still a place for the cherished brands and stores that many local residents trust and love. Being defeatist is not an option. Responding to the change is."
Dave Hobday, managing director of Worldpay in the UK, said: "As far as retail and technology are concerned, the time for 'wait and see' has gone. Digital technology could unlock £18.8 billion of revenue for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), while reducing their costs by up to a fifth.
"Whilst we're seeing pockets of innovation in many corners of the UK, we also know that many small businesses are struggling to adapt. We want to empower these businesses to turn uncertainty into opportunity and reassure them that technology is a friend, not a foe."