Updating retail IT systems can be a complex task for stores. You only get one chance to make a good first impression with customers, and any delay, defect or equipment malfunction can damage customer relationships beyond repair. Under these tight pressures, retailers need to get the store open and fully operational on time to avoid any budget overruns or lost revenue opportunities.
While many people, functions and teams are involved in these projects, the emphasis is increasingly on IT to ensure the upgrade is completed on schedule. As individual stores implement more technology, they are essentially becoming technology departments of their own.
Managing the logistics and technical requirements of various back-end and front-end retail IT systems is a top priority, but one that can be overwhelming. Avoiding these three particular issues can make the difference between a successful project and a delayed one.
New applications and software must be installed and loaded onto each individual device, such as in-store tablets, customer service kiosks, digital signage or mobile point-of-service (POS) systems. Sometimes, components such as these are delivered with software that is either not configured or improperly loaded, meaning updates are required on site. This can lead to serious delays in getting the hardware installed, putting the entire schedule at risk. Often, this can prevent the store from reopening on time.
Any delay caused by a malfunction or issue is not only costly, but also it can make a poor first impression with customers who may decide the new technology doesn’t add any value. That’s why proper testing is critical for each item and device during configuration. Testing is often an iterative process, and components must be retested thoroughly before the sign-off can be given. One mistake can cause budget overruns and cost thousands of dollars in lost sales.
Employees are always your biggest asset. They will be the ones on the front line, introducing the new technology and equipment to customers and dealing with any issues. For this reason, quality training cannot be over-emphasized. This includes hands-on skills training, as well as detailed documentation for staff to refer to at any time. Finally, they must know where they can go for support anytime, day or night, if they cannot solve the problem at the store level. The goal of this training is to give staff the ability to minimize downtime and ensure a positive experience for all customers.
Putting it all together
These challenges can loom even larger considering the scale of a large technology refresh project. Tight deadlines and razor-thin margins often leave little room for error. Overcoming them requires the right mix of expertise and experience in managing retail IT implementations under a variety of conditions. For retailers, successfully introducing new technology is the basis of increasing customer satisfaction. This builds loyalty that keeps customers coming back time and time again.