Retail Tech Nightmare?! Or Project Success?

retail tech deployment tips

This post was originally published on LinkedIn by GreyOrange partner Troy Siwek. Connect with or follow Troy here for more insightful content.

Ever feel like keeping up with the latest tech is a never-ending game? You’re not alone.

As a former consultant, I have a few retail tech horror stories in my past. I remember one client implemented a pick-up text notification for online orders that were…you guessed it, “ready to pick up.” That seemed high tech at the time. When I went to see this in a store, something was clearly awry. The associates had put a bench for customers to sit on while they went and found the order, usually after a long awkward wait. This was far from the designed process that we were so proud of. What went wrong? Why did this happen? In short, we didn’t spend enough time with associates understanding the other demands on them that would impact the omnichannel picking process time (along with some other technical issues).

Technology is constantly changing, and it can be tough to know how to adapt your retail stores to keep pace. Your business and IT teams need to work together, exploring solutions, narrowing options, and comparing costs and benefits.

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That’s where procurement comes in. Procurement teams are there to help you find the best tech for your needs, but sometimes to your technology partners, it can feel like they are too rigid, like the Sesame Street Yip-Yip Martians saying “Nope, Nope, Nope,” to creative ideas for the solution.

Here’s the thing: procurement teams can be your best partners in innovation. They just need to ensure that any new technology is a good fit for your business. So, how can you work together to stay ahead of the curve?

Retail Tech Nightmare?! Or Project Success?
“Can we talk to the business about this idea for the widget?” (Source: Sesame Street)

1. Brainstorm together

Instead of just telling procurement what you want, try brainstorming with them. Schedule a meeting with your key partners and procurement team and get everyone’s ideas flowing.

Encourage everyone to share their ideas, even if they seem a little out there. Sometimes the most innovative solutions come from thinking outside the box. Additionally, it may demonstrate that one-size procurement process does not fit all. You might have one partner solution that is more agile and adaptive, and another potentially good solution that is more of a one-stop-shop application from a large vendor. Perhaps both should be considered, and the procurement process should allow flexibility for this. Business, IT and their procurement partners should figure out these guidelines together and continue to iterate them as the process progresses.

2. Pilot programs: Test before you invest

Not sure if a new tech solution is right for you? Start small with a pilot program!

A pilot program allows you to test out a new technology on a small scale before committing to a big investment. This is a great way to see if the technology is a good fit for your business and if it will deliver the results you’re looking for. Most vendors and partners will do a pilot for a minimal price to prove the business case with you. Just make sure you have agreed on clear KPIs and success criteria to move forward after the pilot.

3. Get feedback from the front lines

Your store associates are the ones who will be using the new technology every day, so it makes sense to get their feedback early and often!

Once you’ve implemented a new technology, take some time to get feedback from your store associates. Conduct a short anonymous survey.

  • Is the technology easy to use?
  • Does it meet their needs?
  • Would they recommend it to others?

By getting feedback on a regular basis, you can identify any issues and ensure the technology is a success for everyone, making improvements with each new release.

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