New technology: Embracing change, managing risk

If there were any lingering doubts that technological changes are transforming British high streets, they were rapidly and unceremoniously swept away over a few days in January this year.

Jessops, the photographic chain, Blockbuster, the movie rental business, and HMV, Britain's foremost entertainment retailer, all collapsed into administration within little more than a week of each other, throwing nearly 7,000 staff out of work and leaving more than 500 shops empty.

Despite the clear impact of technology on their larger counterparts, small retailers have yet to grasp the opportunities - or wake up to the risks.

In a November 2012 survey of 549 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Zurich, retailers emerged as among the least likely to be weighing the possible impact of technological change on their business.

This article sheds light on the research findings and the underlying reasons behind the three retailers' demise.