From CRM to POS, and from merchandising to e-Commerce, modern retailers use a plethora of tools and technology to run their businesses. Add newer solutions like clienteling or OMS to the mix and the retail technology landscape can quickly become overwhelmingly complex. Many retailers find themselves struggling to patch together the pieces of disparate systems and data, be it by custom integrations or by using manual processes.
Modern shoppers don’t see the boundaries of retail channels or systems. They expect a consistent experience wherever, whenever they happen to shop. If your retail systems don’t work harmoniously together, your customer experience is bound to suffer.
Are you considering adding a new component to your retail technology stack? Perhaps you’re thinking about upgrading or replacing your point of sale or e-commerce solution? Here are a few points to consider when selecting retail enterprise software:
Integrations add complexity
It goes without saying: integrations add a layer of complexity to the retail technology landscape. It can often be a daunting task to get various software vendors and developers to work together to build custom integrations between various systems that were not originally built with each other in mind. Cobbling together best-of-breed software from various vendors adds a layer of complexity, not only to your software landscape, but also to your data and databases, training approach, support services, and more.
Added complexity leads to added cost
It’s not hard to see how all of this added complexity can lead to higher costs. From the onset of a new integration project, there are likely to be costs associated with developing the integration and data mapping. After the initial development of integration, added testing, support, and maintenance costs must be considered. What’s more, these elements must be factored into project timelines, meaning that the organization must wait longer to see a return on investment (ROI).
A unified platform reduces the risk of errors
Every additional integration increases the risk of errors. Whether it’s in the form of data corruption, software system errors, or other issues, the added complexity that comes along with lots of integrated systems is a risk that needs to be mitigated. What’s more, the added complexity can make troubleshooting more difficult, since it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint which system is causing the problem. Vendors may end up pointing fingers, or “passing the baton”, leaving the retailer to play the role of referee.
A single hand to shake is ideal
Aside from the technical and system benefits of using a unified commerce platform, there are important business benefits to consider. When you select a single vendor for integrated e-commerce and retail systems, for example, you gain a business partner who truly knows and understands your business’ needs from end-to-end. From a technical standpoint, the software is designed to work together and tested to ensure compatibility as well as a productive user experience. A single unified commerce vendor becomes an extension of your business: you share a common vision and commitment to your whole business’ success, rather than just a narrow part of it. What’s more, if your unified commerce vendor supports Software as a Service (Cloud) deployments, that’s one fewer vendor relationship that needs to be managed.
While third-party integrations are a likely part of nearly any retail systems project today, there is value in considering a vendor that can meet the widest scope of needs possible. A unified retail commerce system will deliver streamlined productivity, reduced costs, faster time to implement, and easier vendor relationship management over time.