Every year the IT in Retail report from retail consultancy and training company, Martec International, looks into the systems strategies and priorities of the 150 of the UK's largest retailers.

Representing retail sales of £210 billion and covering more than 60,000 stores, equating to 63% of the UK market, the report is viewed as a significant gauge of retail technology investment and sentiment in the country.

Essential Retail has picked out some of the key points from this year's study.

Average spend on systems among retailers is 1% of sales

Martec says that this figure has risen and is now back at its 2011-12 level. According to the consultancy, there was a peak in 2004 when spending on systems was at 1.4% of sales – but it has reduced each year until now. Planned replacement levels are high too, backing up the trend of increased IT spend.

Marketing and eCommerce departments increasingly spending on IT

42% of retailers recognise that other departments invest in IT projects that do not come under the auspices of the IT department – up from 33% last year. The report indicates the key departments doing this are eCommerce and marketing, with 22% of all retailers having eCommerce departments that invest in non-IT controlled projects. The figure is 17% for marketing.

The average retailer now has 4.6 different sales channels

Martec says this figure is increasing every year. It noted what many retailers are on record as saying in that systems are not very often integrated across all sales channels, making it difficult to manage them profitably. 

Top investment priority is eCommerce

When asked about their top three investment priorities for the next three years, and the answer given by the largest percentage of respondents was eCommerce. Store systems came in second place and ERP was third. The latter had a much higher prominence than previous years, which Martec said demonstrates significant IT investment is being planned.

Fran Riseley, director of Martec, commented: "We believe that consumer pressure for a joined-up shopping experience across channels is boosting retail IT spend at the moment. 

"This means retailers are buying ERP systems, and replacing merchandising and eCommerce systems so that the vision of a single stock pool and view of customers across all sales channels is realised. It is significant that IT spend is moving out of the IT department, with marketing and eCommerce executives being the main investors in technology beyond the CIO."