As a former retail technology implementation consultant, I know at least 4 retail technology secrets that your providers don’t want you to know. At least, not during the purchasing phase of your project. In a new covid environment, retailers are inundated with people pushing the latest technology and its promises of optimizing resources, minimizing investment and creating loyal shoppers. You know the usual suspects – Oracle, SAP, Blue Yonder and Microsoft. Like Kaiser Soze, they say whatever you want to hear. Yes, implementing new technology will have your profits back on an upward path. Yes, this time it really does work. Finally, yes the vaporware you saw last year is now a reality.
Hey, I used to be one of those people. So I am not trying to discount a modern-day technology sales team’s difficulties.
Retail technology secret #1
There is very little difference in retail performance based solely on a technology decision. In fact, any decision you make has an equal chance of negatively, positively or not affecting your critical KPI’s. THAT’s not something the folks in the big booths at the front of the NRF convention will tell you.
Retail technology secret #2
What determines success is the CHANGE and the PROCESSES that are implemented, integrated and adopted by the team who uses the new technology. Those are the real determining factors that separate profitable initiatives from IT investments that never meet their original business case benefits. When the goal of a new implementation is to work “just like my old spreadsheet,” new technology is shoe-horned into the processes, job roles and contact points of old systems. The implementation team gets to move on to new projects. But the business leaders are usually disappointed with the results.
Retail technology secret #3
Because of secret #2, efficient retailers know that they can almost always wring out increased productivity by revisiting past technology. There are real improvements just by utilizing capabilities that are lying dormant. Examples? Connect real estate databases to store planning CAD’s to increase store productivity and renegotiate lease terms. Use the assortment planning function in merchandise or space planning software to move assortment decisions closer to stores. Scour all the “under the desk” databases to build a data repository that adapts to the real needs of the organization. ANY idea will work. The productivity comes from…wait for it…SEE bolded words in Secret #2!!
Retail technology secret #4
Most retailers do not actually measure the business results of their technology investments. It is rare to find an organization with the discipline and the methodology to forecast material gains from technology in their business case. Even more so to measure and report the results to executives after the implementation. The result gives everyone a legitimate cover to claim the project succeeded – or worse yet – that “it’s impossible to know” if it succeeded. There’s usually a lot of talk about soft benefits (unmeasured customer satisfaction, standardized processes, etc) but ask about inventory metrics, customer transaction counts or sales per employee and you are likely to get blank stares
In summary, there are many more retail technology secrets. But these four will keep retailers restless with their current solutions. They keep chasing the products that will solve their problems. And those guys with the big booths? They’ll keep selling them the dream.
If you are ready to make your technology investments truly pay off, contact us. It ‘s what we do for clients.