We recently polled readers of a popular magazine for retailers to get a better idea of how many are struggling with outdated technology. Of the retailers taking our online assessment, only about half have a POS retail solution with the ability to accept EMV payments, some still manage inventory with spreadsheets, and less than half are tracking business performance with real-time data measured against KPIs (some are reviewing reports only monthly — or less). As for their eCommerce sites, not one respondent’s website had all of these capabilities:
- Cart abandonment retargeting
- Gift card support
- Ratings and reviews
- Loyalty program redemption management
- Upsell and cross-sell suggestions
- Real-time payment processing
- Personalized promotions
True, the results of the poll aren’t really anything new. They line up with other assessments of the retail industry. But we asked one additional question: When was the last time you upgraded your POS retail solution?
Most responded that they had upgraded within the last five years and more than half said they upgraded in the last two years.
Something doesn’t add up. Although, “if I only knew then what I know now” definitely applies when technology advances at a rapid pace, the need for the POS retail solution features and functions listed in the poll weren’t shrouded in secrecy two years ago.
My conclusion: When retailers invest in technology, they need to buy with the future in mind. Following are three tips to keep in mind when assessing a retail technology investment:
- Monitor Trends
There is no way to definitively predict the future, but you can place intelligent bets. Keep an ear to the ground for industry standards and regulations, disruptive technology, and news of what Tier 1 retailers are planning.Another trail marker to watch for is changing consumer behaviors. Shoppers, once content with retail-centric shopping experiences are now demanding very consumer-centric ones. Our Great Omnichannel Expectations 2016- 2017 Shopper Survey revealed 47% of North American consumers research products online before they buy, and 57.5% use Buy Online Pickup in Store options, and 36.9% say their in-store experiences could be improved by kiosks or digital help desks. Your customers crave information and convenience, trends our research has confirmed over a few years. They expect to be able to begin their shopping experience on one channel and complete it on another. They also expect the personalized experiences of online shopping to carry over to the physical store with relevant offers and access to information that can help them make purchasing decisions.
- Set the Right Course
An understanding of the direction the industry is heading will help you make smart POS retail solution purchasing decisions, but you also need an understanding of the types of solutions available and which ones are more likely to be future-proof.Not all retail POS solutions integrate — they can’t always share data and communicate with each other. Building a retail management system on a digital platform ensures all solutions and applications — POS, inventory, loyalty, eCommerce, back office functions — work together. A digital platform also means when your business or the industry changes in the future, you can add or develop new applications without the disruptive choice to “rip and replace” your system. Digital platforms are designed to scale and adapt to your needs.
- The Biggest Mistake
When weighing all of your options, probably the worst choice is taking a “wait and see” attitude. In the current competitive climate, allowing other retailers to overtake you in the race to winning sales and customer loyalty could be a mistake that puts you out of business. It is important to equip your business with the technology tools that keep you competitive.Take the time to evaluate whether your POS is fully capable of helping you build your retail operations for the future with our free online assessment, in partnership with Retail Touchpoints. Make informed decisions about your next retail POS purchase that meets your business’ needs today and tomorrow.