February 1, 2005, 12:00 AM

What retailers want

When asked to score on a scale of 1 to 5 their worst online capability, retailers pointed to personalization, scoring it 2.4, according to a new study by BearingPoint and the NRF. But that’s also where retailers expect to make major investments this year.

When asked to score on a scale of 1 to 5 their worst online capability, retailers pointed to personalization, scoring it 2.4, according to the results of the “Horizons: Benchmarks for 2004, Forecasts for 2005” study released last month by BearingPoint Inc. and the National Retail Federation.

But when the study asked 300 retailers for the most important technologies they’ll concentrate on this year, personalization engines came in as the third most-often cited category, mentioned by 48% of respondents.

Ahead of personalization in retailers’ priorities are upgrading their e-commerce software, cited by 66%, and improving their product information management, 63%.

Retailers’ top online customer content initiatives were to improve product information, 83%, provide store locators, 80% , coordinate and improve online brand messaging, 68%, and enhance customer service, 66%.

Another goal of online retailers is to integrate web systems with the rest of the operation. But few have achieved that. Only 47% of retailers have integrated the web with their call centers, only 44% with their fulfillment centers and 38% with ERP/back office systems. Even fewer have integrated the web with their POS systems (9%) and vendors (14%).

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