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Retailers will open wallets more in 2004

Retailers will spend more on technology in 2004 and 83 percent will replace or upgrade their POS systems to provide real-time information at the time of transaction, according to research completed by the National Retail Federation Foundation and BearingPoint.

The finding seems to carry major implications for the near-term future of RFID technology, now in its early stages.

Technology was prime. Twenty percent of retailers with sales in excess of $200 million named RFID as a critical issue, according to Bearing Point. That will necessitate investments in updated technologies now.

"Without cleansed synchronized data there will not be a business case for RFID," said Jeff Maness, BearingPoint managing director.

"Those retailers who choose to invest (in technology) today will be rewarded tomorrow," said Tracy Mullin, NRF president.

Now in the second of three years, the study surveyed more than 100 retailers, focusing on store and field operations, supply chain issues, customer relationships, merchandising, advertising, human capital, information technology and marketing issues.

Researchers found a need for faster and greater retailer differentiation and confirmed last year's trends were continuing: a greater focus on customers, faster reaction times to new data and eliminating boundaries.

"As the competition increases, retailers need to figure out how they can differentiate even more," said Scott Hardy, vice president, retail-wholesale East sector, for BearingPoint. "Retailers are looking to POS in 2004 to provide real-time information to have a better understanding of the customer."

The survey also found that 49 percent of retailers cited private label development as a priority. In addition, about a third of the respondents will focus on micro-merchandising and multicultural marketing.

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