Thriving in an industry in which the only constant is change is a real challenge. Retailers are under enormous pressure to take a proactive approach to continually improve the shopping experience. The way customers shop nowadays is significantly different from how they used to in the past. E-commerce and omni-channel retailing have opened up new opportunities for brands, while putting brands who have failed to innovate at a distinct disadvantage.

Shoppers have replaced their flip phones and other outdated gadgets with sophisticated smartphones that enable them to read reviews, order items, seek inspiration online, and so much more — all in a heartbeat. With increasingly tech-savvy customers, it’s hard to understand why some retailers are still being reluctant to embrace the digital transformation. The so-called “retail apocalypse” that made headlines recently only affected the brands that failed to keep up with rapidly changing technology. In fact, what we’re currently experiencing is more of a retail renaissance, and companies can either lose big or win bigThe McKinsey Global Fashion Index forecasts industry sales growth to nearly triple between 2016 and 2018, from 1.5 percent to between 3.5 to 4.5 percent, making technology investments an absolute must for retailers who want to grow their revenue, generate more profits, and increase customer loyalty.

Use Better-Quality Data to Drive Wiser Decision-Making

The importance of investing in a best-of-breed retail analytics platform cannot be stressed enough. However, far too often, retailers invest in solutions that prevent them from making the most of their data, limiting them to only analyzing a small portion of it. In fact, “nearly two thirds (65 percent) of branded manufacturers can access only a moderate amount of consumer data via indirect channels (such as marketplaces or wholesale channels), if any at all,” resulting in poor business decisions and lost sales opportunities.

While using more customer data is critical, making it actionable across all areas of the organization is equally important. By having access to data at the most granular level, retailers can also deliver a more personalized customer experience based on customers’ shopping behaviors, anywhere and anytime.

Consider an Integrated Suite for Greater Productivity

With so many software providers to choose from, finding the right partners for your business can feel like a never-ending process. While running a retail business might seem easy from the outside, there are multiple areas retailers need to invest in if they wish to gain a competitive edge and ensure the prosperity of their business. From merchandise management, to demand and order management, the importance of selecting the right software provider can have a significant impact on a company’s financial health. Retailers should thus consider investing in a fully integrated retail suite that will meet all of their business needs, enabling them to effectively plan, purchase, allocate, and sell merchandise, without constantly worrying about managing relations with a portfolio of different vendors. What’s more, integrating retail systems is a cost-effective way to increase business productivity, enhance the customer experience, and maximize ROI.

Know When to Replace Your Legacy Systems

Delivering a smarter customer experience at every touchpoint has become critical to succeed in today’s omni-channel world. Systems that were developed and installed in the late 1990s simply don’t cut it anymore, as they were not built with the modern customer-centric and omni-channel functionality needed to meet customers’ evolving needs. Relying on outdated technology and siloed processes can not only hurt a company’s bottom line, but it can also cause serious damage to the brand reputation. What’s more, legacy systems that were not designed to interoperate often lead to duplicate, manual processes, which means lost productivity and increased risk of errors.

Select a Software Provider Built to Support Ongoing Business Growth

With the globalization of retail markets that is currently underway, mastering the art of operating stores around the globe has become key to supporting the hyper-growth strategy of most organizations. However, effectively running a global company with a growing international customer base can be tricky. It goes beyond simply accepting multiple currencies and operating in various languages: will your software vendor help you comply with legal regional requirements? Can your e-commerce site correctly change taxes for all states and countries? Answering these questions prior to investing in a new software provider will help retailers ensure they will future-proof their technology investments and remain relevant for years to come.

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