Most retailers excel when it comes to getting merchandise to their store in the most efficient way possible. They are experts at optimizing the supply chain to get the right products to the right stores at the lowest possible cost. But when it comes to the procurement of retail IT, many retailers struggle to achieve the same level of efficiency.
Retailers tend to underestimate the value they can create by having the right strategy in place when purchasing new technology. In fact, law firm TLT found that nearly half of retailers rarely even negotiate contracts when purchasing new technology. Partnering with a retail technology services company can improve the entire procurement process, from purchasing to configuration to eventual deployment.
Purchasing new technology often starts with the best of intentions. Gartner has shown that 60 percent of retailers intend to increase their IT budget from 2015, with the goals of introducing omnichannel capabilities, offering a better and more tailored customer experience and facilitating the buying process through mobile POS and other technologies. These strategic initiatives require significant investments in both front-end and back-end IT infrastructure.
When purchasing, retailers often try to take advantage of volume discounts, or may not have the resources required to deal with multiple vendors individually. The result is that they immediately purchase large quantities of equipment and store it in a warehouse until it is ready to be deployed across their network of stores.
However, this ties up money in unused equipment while also reducing the useful life of the products. By the time the planning stage is completed the technology may already be obsolete. Even if it can still be used, the warranty period is likely expired, or the project may fall behind schedule due to complications moving the equipment from the warehouse to the store. In the end, retailers end up absorbing the cost of any repairs, upgrades, write-offs or delays due to the outdated technology, some of which may never actually be used.
Delivering a Strategic Advantage through Retail IT
By taking a strategic approach to retail IT procurement, retailers can avoid these costly expenses and ensure they are getting the best value for their investment. Because this strategic approach can be complex, many retailers turn to a third-party retail technology services expert who can handle all of the vendor relationships, purchasing, logistics, and the configuration and deployment involved in a store refresh or new store opening.
For retailers and IT departments, having this single point-of-contact significantly reduces the workload and complexity of the project. It also gives the retailer the ability to source best-in-breed technologies that align with their business needs, regardless of the vendor. The retailer gains the benefits of better buying power without having to manage each vendor relationship themselves.
But perhaps the biggest factor for retailers is the ability to get the technology to each store just-in-time (JIT). Using a JIT approach maximizes the useful life of the technology and maintains all warranties because equipment gets purchased and delivered right when it’s needed. The entire solution can be configured, tested and kitted before being sent to the store. Trained and certified on-site technicians can then get the infrastructure installed right away, dramatically reducing the time and cost of getting stores up and running.
Turn your Retail IT into a Valuable Asset
Though it is often overlooked during the planning stages, a strategic approach to procurement can save retailers time, money and effort and turn their retail IT into a competitive advantage. By partnering with an OEM-independent retail technology services company that knows retail, equipment can be fully utilized, projects can be managed more easily and stores can open on time, every time.
To learn more about these challenges and how you can ensure your new retail IT implementation is a success, download our latest whitepaper: IT and Retail Store Growth – Best Practices that Promote Revenue.