Online SME retailers in the UK are becoming increasingly open to new technologies and innovation to help drive growth over the next year, with 49 percent stating that they plan to invest in flexible payment options over the next 12 months.

The new research, from global payments provider Klarna, conducted with 100 UK SME decision-makers found that small online fashion retailers in the UK are open to embracing innovation, but state that “barriers" including cost, market uncertainty and uncertain ROI, prevented widespread adoption.

More than half (53 percent) said that the cost of introducing flexible payment options was the biggest barrier to adoption, even though they were eager to cater to the ‘want it now’ generation.

The research also reveals that small retailers plan to invest in e-commerce capabilities (48 percent), to meet consumer demand for a frictionless shopping experience, but added that uncertainty over costs and the UK’s current turbulent market is reducing spending on innovation.

The current climate is also inhibiting tech spend, added Klarna, as whilst SME online retailers have budgets set aside for investment in new technologies, almost half (48 percent) cited uncertainty around Brexit as the main reason they’re currently halting investment. This was followed by not knowing what tech will provide the best return on investment (31 percent).

However, 54 percent of the SMEs surveyed also noted that competition from bigger players and online giants is the biggest external challenge currently impacting them.

The research also shows that online SME retailers are thinking ahead and have plans in place to boost customer experience within their businesses over the next 12 months. As well as recognising the potential of innovative technologies, they also understand the importance of an omnichannel presence, with three quarters (74 percent) stating that they have created some form of physical experience for their customers in the past.

Luke Griffiths, UK general manager at Klarna, said in a statement: “Shoppers today demand a frictionless buying experience from browsing to checkout, so it’s encouraging to see that so many online SME retailers are looking to bring new technologies into their businesses to enhance customer experience.

“Introducing new tech, like Klarna’s Pay later and instalment options, is an investment that will pay off in the long run — ultimately leading to greater sales, higher basket value and increased customer loyalty. Being small in size doesn’t have to mean small-picture thinking. SMEs have the advantage of agility, and are often better equipped to do a fast integration than their larger counterparts.”


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