A survey conducted by business software vendor, Sage, has found local retailers are divided over the state of business performance in 2011 with four in 10 claiming their business is fairing better than last year and three in 10 stating that their business is performing worse.
The Sage SME Business Sentiment Index revealed retailers are more pessimistic about the year ahead, compared with 2010, and are more uncertain than many of the other industry groups regarding the prospects for the nation's economy.
37 per cent of retailers are less confident about the year ahead compared with 28 per cent of all businesses, while 23 per cent of them thought the country's economy is recovering compared with 31 per cent of all businesses.
The report indicated that in the last 12 months, the main challenges facing retailers were growing costs, the need to uphold or grow revenue and managing cash flow.
Retailer were more likely than all businesses to have reduced costs on advertising and promotional material since the GFC and see increased competition as a challenge in 2010.
More than half of retailers believe that the rising costs will carry on through to 2011.
Other issues facing retailers in the year ahead include: managing cash flow, maintaining or growing revenue and gaining new customers.
The research report also revealed that technology usage tops the priority lists for businesses in 2011 and that women are more likely the cautious pragmatists of the business world then their male counterparts.
Statistics showed retailers are far more focused on investment in marketing than their peers in other industry sectors.
The online environment remains a key channel for the sector with 29 per cent retailers more likely than 20 per cent of all businesses to utilise an online purchasing website.
However, although they had websites, only 43 per cent stated it was relevant to their business – signifying a lack of optimisation of the online channel within the group.
Sage Software Australia managing director, Alan Osrin, said, ”It is evident that retailers are appreciative of the challenges they face around marketing to new customers in 2011 in order to increase revenues, as well as a clear recognition of the need to focus on technological solutions to help them improve their business’s bottom line.”
Note: this is vendor-sponsored research and should be considered as such.