10 Things to look for while replacing your legacy retail systems

Today’s retail consumer is smarter, tech-savvier, and extremely demanding than ever. Not only is she shopping across online and offline channels, but they also expect to have a unified, splendid experience as they switch between channels. They expect retailers to offer the choicest deals on the finest products at the best prices and to fulfill orders in the speediest and the most affordable manner possible. Phew! Those are some very high, almost back-breaking expectations that most retailers cannot meet using their legacy retail systems.

To fulfill the stringent demands of modern consumers, retailers need to equip their businesses with a new-age, robust retail solution that is scalable and dynamic enough to manage customers, inventory as well as valuable business data across multiple stores and touchpoints. It may seem like a difficult task at first; but with the right retail solutions replacing their conventional legacy systems, retailers can cakewalk themselves through this.

Also, it is something retailers will need to achieve if they wish to stay in business. Retailers need to bear in mind the following 10 things while replacing their legacy retail systems:

1. Start with the customer
Focus on who you are overhauling your retail management system for – the customer. Discern their expectations from an ideal shopping experience; and then choose a system with features that can help deliver that experience.

2. Solution mapping for business
Define the project/business objectives clearly. Map the deliverables of the new solution with the business needs and goals set. This will help in setting priorities right to successfully find and deploy the right solution for your business.

3. Make it a gradual process
Break down the process into batches if the prospect of launching a new retail management system across the entire operation seems overwhelming. For instance, rolling out the new system to a few stores before moving on to other locations allows the enterprise to ease into the new solution and keeps the project from becoming overwhelming.

4. Be wary of probable drawbacks
Before signing up for a shiny new system, think about how to transition users to the new solution. Is it easy to understand or would it be necessary to invest resources in training? Is it customizable? Would it be necessary to modify existing workflows? Can the new system integrate with other solutions that the business is already using? These are just some of the questions you should answer before deciding on a new system.

5. Get organized
Replacing the legacy retail management system needs a process that is best fit for your business. Set up a procedure that can keep the implementation on track.

6. Bring in the specialist
Have in-house experts research, evaluate, and deploy a new retail management system, or consult with third party experts who can assist in all phases of the project. Tap into their technical knowledge and expertise to make smarter decisions throughout the process.

7. Choose a system with robust inventory capabilities
Inventory is the building block of any retail business. It is also one of the most challenging aspects to manage at company-wide stock levels. The vast majority of multi-store retailers specifically look for cross-channel inventory management capabilities in their new POS to streamline inventory management.

8. Embrace new technology with open arms
Try to find the most forward looking innovations in retail technology that are right for the business.

9. List the “must haves”
Create a “must have” list of features and capabilities that are absolutely needed versus the “nice to haves,” to avoid ending up with a beast of a project.

10. Test, test, test
Thoroughly test the retail management system to ensure that it works right for your business.

How long should the process take? Wood advises retailers to allocate six weeks to for the search as “this is the average length of time companies are able to find a replacement software in.”


‘More Is Less’ – The New Retail Mantra!

The retail industry has come a long way – from being a simple barter system to the modern day retail that is all about ‘omni-channel’. This journey has helped retail to evolve and match the technology trends to meet the expectations of economic growth of regions, boost the revenue for businesses and ensure availability of products for consumers. But, the more one gets, even more is desired and thus for retail today, ‘more is less’.

Not only does every retail business want a share of the revenue pie, but it also wants to grab a bigger share each time. To do this, businesses are looking for modern ways to improve their operations and business models, to strategize effectively and increase the chances of boosting profits and margins. Further, they also want to expand and scale-up their businesses by venturing into diverse geographies or by sourcing and in some cases manufacturing new products for retail. In recent times, new channels of retail such as e-commerce have become the next big thing and retailers who were quick to jump onto the bandwagon, reaped its benefits. Many more are still following suit. But, even e-commerce has not been enough – mobile commerce (m-commerce) and social commerce are the latest retail touch-points. Taking timely advantage of these, can provide a fast paced growth for the retailers. It also provides for an opening for new entrants looking to foray into the retail business thus leading to more competition and this can just keep snowballing further.

Along with the modern trends in retail, there are a host of forward-looking technologies that can be infused in to the business in order to enhance it further. One significant example would be, the way POS technology has evolved from regular billing counters to being CRM integrated and even to Mobile POS (m-POS). Innovations in technology has enabled retail software solution companies to integrate even more advanced features to the POS such as augmented reality. With all certainty, there is still more to come in the future.

ETP blog - More is less

Big Data analytics is another such important and revolutionary technology. From simple capturing of data to offering analyzing capabilities, progressing into predictive and intuitive analytics, technology has paved the way not only for retail, but also for other businesses to plan their next steps for growth. Big Data allows retailers to capture and analyze large volumes of data – of their customers, employees and inventory – to be able to understand and predict market trends. Further advancements in technology will surely add more capabilities to POS, Big Data analytics and other retail solutions.

Just like technology, there are other aspects where ‘More is Less” influences the retail businesses. A growing global population means more consumers, more demand and eventually, more business opportunity. The need to fulfil the rising demand leads to creation of multiple product variants, versions and alternatives, and also varied pricing. Retailers can create separate brands to target the different customer segments. Offers and promotions also help to attract more customers. With a focus on customer centricity, retailers also need to provide more information about their offerings. For the consumers, all of this means more avenues or channels from where they can buy or research about the product options, more choices and more discounts on the products of their choice.

‘More is less’ is definitely the new retail mantra of today! If retail businesses can get more done, they can certainly achieve more. The opportunities to stand-out are galore if, after evaluating all factors and employing the right technologies, from planning to execution, they can get it right in retail.

A Millennial Match Made In Retail Heaven!

The term ‘Millennial Retail’ seems to gather popularity and confusion in equal parts. Suddenly one finds themselves floating neck deep in ‘quick-fix-home-grown’ millennial solutions which threaten to make necessary relevance rhetorical! But the right retail technology applied through the right business practices can help navigate these choppy waters and turn the tide to one’s advantage, harnessing the industry potential that lies within this world-wide phenomena.
Industry experts project one-third of the global retail revenue to be contributed through the millennial generation by Y2020. The good news is, this number will permanently be on an upward trend hereon. But the challenge lies in managing expectations.
Millennials expect quick service, this is often the key distinction between a sale and no sale situation. Apparently, patience is not a virtue to hold dearly in the new age. Retailers are beginning to understand that their in-store experience is only as good as the customer wait-time it reduces. Quick Billing and express counters ensure the instant gratification millennials seek. Your POS stations are battle grounds combating the biggest deterrent to your conversion ratios. This means there is no down-time and service continues even in offline mode.
ETP blog Millenial retail
A personalized shopping experience has the multi-fold effect possible almost exclusively through millennials. Since they are more open to share information about their preferences and often know exactly what they want, you populate your CRM database with more accurate data. This leads to better promotions and developing key value-add services that make your brand personable and closer to your customers. Also, help spread the love! 19 out 20 millennials (globally) own smartphones and are active on social media. That makes for a lot of first impressions, daily, through multiple networking and information sharing sites.
As a group, millennials favor engaging with companies and brands on social media and also prefer receiving hyper targeted content. With sales soaring as a result of positive social media influence, it is no wonder that most marketing budgets today are skewed towards building an omni-channel presence for their organization. So when your customers exit your store, they still carry your brand experience (quite literally) with them, on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. Within the store, the staff uses a similar mobility to lookup customer info, frequency-regency of purchase, buying history like preferred products and payment modes. They now hold the right information to help customers make better choices, deliver value through applicable promotions, up/cross-sell and conclude the transaction from anywhere in the store. Again saving their time and fortifying customer loyalty which induces and influences more people to try your products and services.
It is important to note that although the retail market is a dynamic arena, the millennial trend has pushed to permanence certain course correcting measures which were inevitable. They include striking a better balance between demand and supply, optimizing supply with better visibility and control over production, process and people to satisfy and supplement existing demand. A centralized data management system enables you to analyze better, faster and get that much closer to your yearly projections. The necessary operational overhaul, in reality, has led a more enlightened practice and pace of doing business. And you are sure to be the quickest to the draw, with those young guns at your side.