Google “retail technology solutions” and you’ll be overwhelmed by over 18 million pages of information to plough through.
The market is overflowing with innovative new offerings and older tech that’s been updated to keep up with the competition. Before you can even consider getting your project started, there’s a major research job to be done.
So how do you decipher what’s available, what’s achievable and what’s suitable for your business?
Get it right and you’ll enjoy increased efficiency, productivity and profit, a deeper understanding of how your business works and the infrastructure to scale up operations.
Get it wrong and you’ll be using an ineffectual system that, until you can afford to replace it, could seriously compromise your business performance.
Follow our tips to make the selection process smoother and plot the next stage of your digital journey.
Your Plan of Action
Many retail challenges are universal: the relentless rise of online, increasing wage demands, evolving employee expectations.
But your challenges are unique and need a unique solution. Keep this front of mind throughout the whole selection process. It needs to tick your specific boxes as well as those that affect the industry overall.
The decision you make now will be embedded in your business for several years. Make sure it’s a good one by answering the following questions:
1. What Type of Buyer Are You?
With a plethora of products on offer, you need to be clear on what category of buyer you fall in to. Do you need a full suite of solutions to solve issues across the business? Do you need to tackle one specific problem? Or do you need the most cost-efficient, off-the-shelf solution possible?
Once you’ve figured out the scale of your challenge and your budget, you can proceed through the maze of suppliers, developers and consultants with more confidence.
2. What Do You Need?
Ask your team what their day-to-day pain points are and what their ideal workplace would look like. This will help to set your objectives and identify what software features are most important. Place them in order of priority in case your budget doesn’t allow for them all to be met straightaway.
Maybe you want to improve communication between colleagues, equip staff with a data-packed mobile tablet or get to grips with regular out-of-stock issues?
3. Do You Know What You Need?
If you don’t have the skills or resources to adequately assess your requirements, your hunt can be narrowed down to suppliers who offer a wrap-around service. Specialist consultants can get under the skin of your business to define the scope of your project and devise a bespoke solution which can then be implemented by the same project team.
4. What are Your Integration Needs?
As the pace of digital change keeps speeding up, opting for software with limited integration capabilities is storing up trouble for the future.
It’s crucial to assess if a solution complements your existing and planned technologies. For your business to work at maximum efficiency, you need to have one single source of data in circulation. A user-friendly system that digitally connects every department seamlessly will reap many rewards.
5. What’s Your Plan for the Future?
Your chosen solution must evolve with your business. Unless you’re planning to stand still, think strategically about your tech investment: will it still be what you need in five years’ time to not just survive but thrive? Is your provider as innovative as you?
Cloud-based solutions are designed for scalability and agility. You’ll be able to add and integrate new features as your business grows. Make the right decision now and you’ll be future-proofing with confidence while getting a great return on investment.
What Can Suppliers Offer Your Business?
You have your vision. Who can help to make it a reality?
If you have the in-house resources to implement and integrate an off-the-shelf package, then developers who solely sell their own software or a reseller of other companies’ products will probably suit your needs.
But if you need a comprehensive range of advice and support to get the very best results, then your best option is a full-service offering that specialises in retail.
Their developers have the creativity to problem-solve, their consultants have the industry knowledge to deliver best practice, and their implementation teams have the expertise and experience to meet your unique needs.
And because they all work collaboratively, with you and with each other, you’ll enjoy a cohesive approach to your bespoke solution.
Wrap-around expertise will include the opportunity to appoint consultants to work within your project team and fill in any knowledge gaps.
Their fresh perspective and industry experience will inform your technology roll-out project right from the start and give you insights you may not have considered internally.
A good plan poorly executed could spell disaster for your business. However many bells and whistles your new software has, it’s useless if it’s not professionally implemented and understood by your whole team.
Your unique challenges can only be met successfully if software is custom-fit to overcome them. The best experts out there will throw away the instruction book and work hard to achieve more than just basic functionality. They’ll also train your workforce to use it effectively.
The result? A tailor-made solution to power your business forward and face the retail revolution head-on.
Technical Support and Security
Once your new software is up and running, you’ll be relying on it to work hard improving business efficiencies and powering up profit. Faced with unexpected technical problems and minimising downtime will be your number one priority.
Make sure the back-up support offered by your supplier is sufficient: do they have a helpdesk? How quickly can they resolve your problem? You’ll also want to be reassured that your data is stored securely and that any upgrades will still meet your needs and your budget.
The rise of technology doesn’t need to be a threat. Drill down into your individual retail challenges, do your research and speak to the experts. Together, you’ll find the solution to supercharge your store and send your profits soaring.