STUDY: 75% of C-Level Execs in Retail, Hotels, & Restaurants Admit to Seismic Shift Towards Digital Commerce

Data uncovers new attitudes and strategic change brought about by the historic head-on collision between technology and the global pandemic.

'PREPARING FOR THE RETURN OF DEMAND How America's Retail & Hospitality Tech Elite Tackle Disruption with New Commerce Investment', an independently conducted analysis of the views of America's primary sectoral IT decision-makers, commissioned by global payments leader J.P. Morgan and commerce innovator FreedomPay is available. The new study reveals the deepest concerns and actions taken to manage innovation and tech- investment while uncovering dramatic shifts in strategy brought about by, and offsetting the negative impacts of, the Covid-19 crisis.

Over a period of 12 months, researchers interviewed 50 C-suite and Head of Function executives from America's top-ranking food and beverage, retail, and hotel brands with a combined revenue of more than half a trillion dollars. The companies included 8 out of the top 15 US Hotel Groups and one of America's top three retailers.

Initiated in December 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the study was successful in capturing key challenges and barriers of senior decision makers when it comes to growth, technology investment and their view of the legacy systems.

Two thirds of respondents (63%) were dealing with issues around the direction of tech investment and where best to allocate resources – from POS and e-commerce platforms to data analysis and mobile apps.

One in four respondents (25%) also faced major issues such as data lags in legacy platforms and disparate systems with patchwork processes and silos that were holding them back from investing and training staff on new technology.

Key findings among senior decision makers surveyed include:

  • There has been a rapid shift in priority of decision makers in tech investment and data commerce, from focus on low-tech investment and legacy systems to touchless commerce and digital capabilities with 78% of C-suite executives saying the 'Black Swan' moment has re-shaped their future and emphasized the urgent need to focus on integration of digital platforms during lockdown.
  • 69% of technology-focused head of functions surveyed have placed digitalization and data integration at the heart of their business processes. This shows there has been renewed and accelerated demand for digitalization, mobilization and greater integration of real-time, data driven commerce.
  • There is a recognition that better use of 'big data' and real-time insight is vital to maintain operations, respond to rapid change and support growth. More than two- thirds (69%) of senior decision makers surveyed sought to integrate digital channels and data in order to create new operational models and customer touchpoints to sustain their business during office-closures, staff isolation, premises lockdown and diminished physical footfall. 44% of respondents also perceive value of data has become more important.

"Initiated pre-pandemic, this study had the unique ability to reflect the impact of one of the greatest global economic crises of the modern era on the Retail & Hospitality sector. It has therefore captured the thinking of the most influential players, gauging their personal 'front- line' assessment of the true impact of COVID-19 on commerce, customers, employees, and vendors.

"This study uncovered unprecedented insights into how customer purchasing behavior is driving our merchant clients to build more effective payment and data commerce strategies, create new roadmaps and shape vendor relations in 2021 and beyond," commented Molly Walsh, Head of Product for Merchant Services at J.P. Morgan.

"A key takeaway from the study overall, emphasizes that the challenges experienced over the last 12 months are creating new opportunities for tech-investment as retail and hospitality organizations re-evaluate what's really important, added Chris Kronenthal, President & CTO of FreedomPay. "Underpinning this is the recognition that better use of 'big data' - and real-time insight - is now vital to maintain operations, respond to rapid change and support growth."

To download the report visit

Notes to Editors

*Of those interviewed within the Study

50 hour long telephone interviews carried out throughout 2020.
25 completed pre Pandemic (Dec-Mar 2020) 25 during the Pandemic (Sept-Nov 2020) 

Interviews undertaken in:

  • Industry sectors: Hotels, Restaurants and Retail
  • Company Size by sales turnover: (32%) US$5bn+, (24%) US$(2bn-5bn), (20% US$(500m-2bn), (24%) US$ (100m-500m)
  • Job Functions (All have responsibility for implementation of new technology)
    • 36% C-Suite executives with technology implementation focused remit, 64% Head of function with technology implementation focused remit.

The findings of the full report focus on four principal areas that will shape retail and hospitality data-commerce investment priorities in 2021, namely:

-          Challenges and opportunities
-          Return on investment and value
-          Stakeholder expectation
-          Ethics and compliance

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