What Keeps Western European Retailers Awake in 2004

According to a new study published by IDC, business agility, stock optimization, and supply chain efficiency will be among the top pain points that Western European retailers will face during 2004. Other hot issues include cost reduction and optimization, and the accuracy of the increasing amount of data retail organizations collect.

Western European retail and wholesale organizations increasingly have to face new challenges from difficult business environments, including uncertain economies, changing consumer sentiment, growing competition, geographical expansion of larger retailers, and so on. "The retail industry is at a turning point, and whether an organization thrives, survives, or dies depends largely on the strategic use of technology," said Cinzia Rinelli, senior research analyst with IDC's European Vertical Markets research group.

This IDC study highlights the business issues that will drive further IT investment in the retail/wholesale industry in 2004.

Key points include:
Large retailers are expected to have a mature approach towards IT. They need to reduce IT operation costs by increasing simplicity, standardization, and integration. Hence retailers will start considering IT as a business process. Smaller and medium-sized retailers, which have neither the financial nor human resources of their larger counterparts, will also start to see IT as part of their strategy. However, as these players are more vulnerable to today's rapidly changing market conditions, judicious investment in technology is key and can mean the difference between a successful future and no future at all. IT modernization and consolidation of systems are major business issues. Modern IT solutions are key to increasing business agility and data synchronization. Other IT investment areas include outsourcing of non-core IT activities, integration of systems, network modernization, POS systems, and supply chain management systems (procurement, inventory management, warehouse

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