Throughout history, in any industry, certain people and companies have been the thought leaders and set the price levels. Whether we are talking about Andrew Carnegie and the steel industry, Bill Gates with software, and Sears and Walmart in retail (at their peak), these people and companies dominated their markets. But as we have all seen, many once-dominant industry titans rule their worlds no longer, having been massively disrupted by new technology and other forces.
In enterprise retail technology software, there has also been a handful of dominant players that have been massively disrupted, and believe me, they know it. But the marketing and sales muscle of these organizations have largely kept this dirty little secret hidden. They have held the collapsing house of cards together with the illusion that their way – the tried and true — is still the best course. Moreover, they are just hoping you don’t find out that you (the specialty retailer) are spending tens of millions of dollars for systems built on a legacy platform that has not adapted to the current needs of retailers in this unified commerce, mobile, fast-paced environment.
If you are an enterprise retailer with many locations, you may have gone down this system engagement path only to find that you have purchased a solution that is nothing more than a “framework” with a system that you need to completely customize from scratch. Worse yet, this solution costs millions of dollars and, ultimately, years to fully deploy. So why would so many retailers end up thinking they are making the safe decision based on the ideology of the past?
Admittedly, getting software “built to suit” used to work very effectively for these behemoth software companies when retail technology needs were more basic and channels were less integrated. But then the world changed. Unfortunately for them, these companies did not have the ability to change rapidly enough; they needed to reinvent the wheel for each client and incorporate technology that had not yet built. Still, the old systems are being sold by powerful sales and marketing organizations who realize that as long as the client is not complaining and willing to sign on the dotted line, they can still collect their hefty fees and have the client get in line and wait years for a solution that they really need now.
However, retailers are now starting to catch on. They are being told that they don’t yet have a “deployable build” for the stores, after already investing millions of dollars and waiting 12 to 18 months for their new system. A feeling of buyer’s remorse is setting in and they are looking for a way out.
So what is the answer to this technology quagmire? Do you really need a custom-built system costing millions of dollars that takes years to deploy? The answer is no. You can implement cloud technology today for retail that is “out of the box” to a large degree but highly customizable in order to get you over the finish line. Rather than start a 100 percent custom-build frame and spend a vast amount of time and money, you can get 90 percent of what you need right off the shelf and add the finishing touches from there.
You can rapidly deploy a cloud-based solution with a powerful enterprise “out of the box” solution with a modern architecture that can be customized and integrated into a variety of ERP, e-commerce platforms at a cost that is 10 times less than the traditional old guard solutions. You can have enterprise POS, inventory control, mobile, clienteling, CRM, merchandising, allocation, OMS, unified commerce e-commerce integrations with the major platforms (Demandware, Magento, Shopify, etc), all with a powerful back-end reporting engine without having to reinvent the wheel from the ground up at 10x the cost and massive delays in deployment.
So the dirty little secret of retail technology is no longer hidden from you. What you choose to do with that information is yours and yours alone.
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Michael Dattoma is the president of The Bart Group Retail Merchant Services in New York. Michael has been consulting with specialty retailers for over 20 years. The Bart Group Retail Merchant Services delivers broad expertise to specialty retailers in areas including cloud point-of-sale and inventory control, unified commerce solutions across all sales channels and elimination of silos, mobile POS, CRM and clienteling. Michael and his team advocate for independent specialty retailers to help empower them with the resources, tools, and expertise to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Ask Michael about retail technology solutions that reduce costs, improve efficiency and drive revenue. firstname.lastname@example.org / www.retailmerchantservices.com.