“Change is inevitable. Progress is Optional.”
– Tony Robbins
There’s no denying that the business of retail had changed immeasurably over the last decade. We have moved from a product-centric model run by merchants to a business where customers truly reign. The rise of e-commerce has shrunk our world, broadening the competitive landscape, and giving customers more choice, and thus, more control than ever before. E-commerce has also given retailers new occasions to connect with customers, collect more data, and ultimately, sell more. The retailers who are seizing these opportunities are the ones who are thriving in today’s challenging retail market. The ones who have failed to progress are being left behind.
The new retail requires retailers to rethink the processes and technology you use to run your businesses. Many legacy systems were not designed for today’s retail. While some retailers have been able to extend the useful lifespan of their merchandising systems with customizations and added integrations, there comes a time when it’s important to ask the questions, “Is this technology holding us back? Is it the right tool to support progress? Can it take the business where it needs to go?” If you are facing these questions, here are some signs that it’s time to make a change.
You Can’t Provide a Winning Customer Experience
If you’re struggling with your customer experience, customer attrition, and waning satisfaction, your first instinct might be to look at your customer-facing technologies – e-commerce, point of sale, perhaps even clienteling. Taking a step back to look at the big picture, though, you may notice that your foundational infrastructure (that was likely put in place years ago) is just not built to support the omni-channel customer experience that the market now demands.
Customers expect real-time online stock checks, BOPIS (buy online pick up in store), and personalized experiences at every touchpoint. They expect you to know that they’re the same person online and in-store. They want consistent, easy shopping experiences. They want products to be in stock, when and where they want them! All of these growing expectations can only be met if they are supported by the right people and foundational systems, like a merchandising system built for unified commerce.
You Rely on Too Many Manual Processes and Integrations
Is Excel a big part of your allocations process? Are you extracting data from one system to manually upload it into another? If that’s the case, then you know that it’s not only time consuming, but it’s also demoralizing. Your team would much rather put their talents towards building the business than spending time on tedious duplicate or manual processes! In addition to lost productivity, every time we pull data from one system into another, we increase the risk of error. That goes for both manual processes and custom integrations. It’s inevitable in the world of retail to have some integrations, especially in this connected age, but of course, with every integration comes added cost and complexity, so it’s wise to limit them where possible. If there’s a unified suite that can handle what it once required several disparate systems to perform, then it may be worth investigating.
You Can’t See the Big Picture
If you’re lacking the pig picture visibility needed to truly navigate your business, then it may be time to consider a new merchandising system. Perhaps you’re doing business in different countries and each region uses a different merchandising system. Your e-commerce system might not be designed to work with your retail merchandising system. Maybe you have franchised stores or shop-in-shops who use an entirely different backend. As your business grows, so does the complexity of its technical infrastructure. If you’re finding it to be increasingly difficult to see the big picture – in a timely, actionable manner – then it’s time to consider laying a solid new groundwork for growth with a new merchandising system built for omni-channel scalability.
It’s Costing Too Much to Support Your Current Systems
Have you evaluated the cost associated with the time your team spends supporting your current systems and integrations? There comes a time when continuing to support an aging or homegrown system not only holds the business back from a strategic standpoint, but it also becomes a major cost that drags down the bottom line. If your merchandising system is placing too much of a burden on your internal IT team and the cost of technical support is too high, then it’s time to consider an upgrade.
Unreliable systems are one source of concern, unreliable vendors are another. Even the most efficient enterprise software will inevitably require the occasional call for support, maintenance, or training. If your vendor isn’t delivering the partnership you need to grow your business, with extra-long wait times for support tickets, or staff that isn’t knowledgeable enough to properly support you, then that’s another good reason to consider making a change. Finally, if you’re finding yourself dealing with so many different vendors because of a complex technical landscape, then you may want to consider centralizing your merchandising and related systems under a single vendor for easier and more streamlined support.