We discussed in a previous article how retailers need just three things from their technology investments: insight, efficiency and smart response.
If these are what are needed to reimagining retail - how can they be delivered?
There are four very clear steps retailers need to take to get what they need from their technologies. Here I outline the first two steps.
Step 1 – Connectivity
What seems to be lacking in many organizations is interconnectivity between core systems. Connecting core enterprise systems to each other is a foundational step in terms of providing insight into what is taking place within the business right now.
sAn example of this is a real-time understanding of inventory – which is inevitably distributed across multiple systems. As RSR observes, exposing available store inventory online for customers is one of the simplest ways retailers can become more omni-channel.
Not only can this connectivity provide insight into what is taking place within the business, but it also acts as the foundation for new, innovative initiatives such as the Internet of Things (IoT). New customer offerings that differentiate companies from their competitors inevitably rely on technology and the need to weave together different systems in order to provide this. While providing buy-online-pickup-in-store has transitioned from being innovative to being a necessity, the fact that it involves sometimes as many as 20 or more systems illustrates this perfectly: new innovations need alignment between multiple different systems.
Step 2 – Align processes and systems
The number of systems in a typical retail organization is now larger than ever – and set to grow further. At the same time, the processes used to run the business have become more and more complex over time. Adding further complexity is the fact that once upon a time, individual processes were usually associated with one system – whereas now they invariably span multiple different systems.
The advent of social media, omni-channel and other changes has led to customer journeys becoming far more complex than ever before. Not only do retailers need insight into what is taking place in the business as discussed above, they also need insight into the journeys that customers make and also a detailed understanding of how systems are aligned to the business processes and customer journeys.
Aligning processes and systems also facilitates efficiency in that it highlights opportunities within the business for streamlining and automation. Automating and streamlining of processes eliminates waste, removes opportunities for errors and reduces cost. Identifying the biggest opportunities to do this is the first step on the journey.
These first two steps provide insight and commence the efficiency drive. In a future piece I will lay out how the remaining two steps complete the efficiency drive and provide smart response.
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