The retail landscape is littered with poorly integrated retail IT, failed experiments and abandoned equipment from store refresh projects. These incomplete or failed projects cost time, money and effort without delivering on their intended results – plus they can damage sales and customer relationships in the process.
The good news is that many of the pitfalls that cause these failures can be avoided with proper planning. Each new piece of technology must provide a meaningful contribution to the retailer’s revenue, and the actual implementation must be done in a way that limits the impact on the store’s operations and customers. With this in mind, I’ve identified four common mistakes you need to avoid when implementing new in-store retail technology solutions.
1) Measuring Once, Cutting Twice
We’ve all heard the old adage measure twice, cut once. Nowhere is this more applicable than during a store refresh project. Right from the start, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of the business case behind any new piece of equipment. Every decision must align with your overall objectives and goals, and new equipment must be able to seamlessly integrate with the store’s existing IT infrastructure. Given the size and scale of most IT refreshes, the planning phase is critical to the success of the rest of the project. Getting it wrong can not only hurt short term revenues, but also can impact long term sales and performance for years to come.
2) Building the Plane In-flight
You can’t build a plane while it’s flying. In the same way, you can’t jump head into hundreds or thousands of store deployments at once. Doing either will set you up for disaster.
Before going all in, retailers should begin with a small-scale pilot in a limited number of stores. This gives you the chance to test the deployment and installation processes, overcome any obstacles or glitches, and identify areas to improve. Once the first round of stores is complete, it’s important to take the opportunity to pause, examine your progress so far, and make changes for the next wave. When creating a schedule, it’s always best to start slow and build up over time. And because stores are an unpredictable and uncontrollable environment, it’s a good idea to build in some extra time to address any challenges without putting the whole project behind schedule. Taking the project in phases is far more effective than constantly trying to adjust on the fly.
3) Underestimating a Small-scale Deployment
Sure, it’s easy to look at a project that involves a small number of stores and assume it will require less work than a larger deployment. But that’s no reason to take shortcuts or accelerate the schedule. Problems can arise in any store refresh project, and as much can go wrong when you’re working with 100 stores as it can with 1,000. Taking smaller projects for granted can be a fatal mistake, so it’s critical that you avoid the temptation to relax and take the same care as you would on any other technology project.
4) Doing it Alone
Let’s face it – most retailers don’t have the IT resources or expertise in-house to manage everything that goes into a store refresh project, and placing this burden on your IT department is setting yourself up for trouble. Instead, consider partnering with a retail technology services provider that has the scale, expertise and experience needed to manage the entire process – from planning and deployment, to maintenance. If the thought of managing dozens of store implementations a night, handling procurement and vendor relationships, and overseeing the logistics of the entire project is preventing you from taking on or completing an IT refresh, it may be time to bring in a partner to help relieve the stress.
Make the Most of Your Retail IT Refresh
Upgrading your stores’ retail technology can be a massive investment in time, money and effort, and one that needs to be done right. Too many retailers have failed due to problems and issues that could have been avoided if the proper planning was done from the start. By working with an experienced partner to develop a clear strategy, create and follow a realistic schedule, and take the same care regardless of the size of the project, you can position yourself to make the most of your retail IT refresh and give your customers the best experience possible.
Learn more by reading the white paper Retail IT & Store Growth. If your business requirements called for 500 store refreshes in three months, could your existing company resources complete more than five stores per night and be ready to open on schedule in the morning?