Some 86% of UK retailers have not completed their supply chain digitisation process, according to new research by Hong Kong cloud-based end-to-end supply chain company Gravity Supply Chain Solutions.

Supply chain digitisation means using a cloud-based platform with real-time visibility and automation capabilities, which enables businesses to gain full control of their supply chain. Gravity Supply Chain Solutions claims that ‘without this type of control, retailers will struggle with speed to market, hampering their ability to efficiently allocate supply with demand with the knock-on impact of reducing sales opportunities’.

From the 500 UK and US retail executives interviewed, the report also found that 14% of UK retailers have completed a supply chain digitisation process and 61% believe that digitisation is essential in producing ‘seamless omnichannel retail experiences.’

UK retailers cited cost as the ‘greatest barrier’ in digitisation (51%), with 28% unable to justify these costs and 34% viewing lower operation costs, customer experience (31%) and higher profit margins (26%) as the ‘greatest benefit to digitising’ by retailers yet to complete the process.

Of those who have completed the digitisation process, 76% saw an improvement in company decision making, 57% in order tracking for customer experience and 61% said the improvement in customer experience has created ‘greater possibilities’ for products and options.

Gravity Supply Chain Solutions CEO Graham Parker said: “With strong investment in front-end technologies designed to enhance the customer experience such as smart kiosks and AR apps-targeted ads, it begs the questions why retailers appear slow to digitise their supply chains.

“If retailers can’t bring speed to market to meet growing consumer demand, this will disappoint customers, and potentially undermine investments made to improve customer experience at the front-end.

“Clearly, the supply chain is the final frontier of retail digitisation, and while retailers are anxious about the cost, not moving from manual spreadsheet-based supply chain management towards digitised processes that provide speed, efficiency and informed decision making, could cost them a whole lot more.”