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Retailers to break out wallets in 2004

NEW YORK — Retailers plan to spend more on technology in 2004, according to new research by the NRF Foundation (NRFF) and BearingPoint, Inc. The study, "Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2003, Forecast for 2004," found that 83 percent of retailers expect replacing or upgrading point of sale (POS) software systems to provide real-time customer information at the time of sale.

This second annual study, which surveyed more than 100 retailers, focuses on store and field operations, supply chain, customer relationship management, merchandising, advertising, human capital, information technology and marketing issues.

In analyzing this year's survey data, NRFF and BearingPoint said that the three currents of change from last year — moving toward greater customer-centricity, traveling along the data-knowledge-action continuum and shifting toward a boundaryless business model — were reaffirmed with the addition of a fourth current: the need for retailers to be on a greatly accelerated path to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Other key findings of the study include:
Cost containment will be the number one priority for 2004.
74 percent of retailers segment their customer base by loyalty and 66 percent by customer preferences.
49 percent cite private label development as a priority.
82 percent list sales associate training as a key initiative.
In addition, about a third of the respondents will focus on micro-merchandising and multicultural marketing.

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