Originally the article was published on ProductCoalition.com
by Sergey Kizyan, CTO, Intetics
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Toys-R-Us, Radio Shack, Payless Shoes — all once considered industry gargantuans — now dead. Bankrupt. History. Other shopping stalwarts such as Sears, JCPenney, Kmart, and even Macys are struggling to keep the retail reaper at bay.
According to a recent report from Coresight, there have been 6,986 store closures so far this year. That exceeds the total number for all of 2018. One of the main reasons so many retail companies are in a death spiral is because they’ve been slow to adopt new technologies.
If you don’t want to end up in the retail graveyard, you’re going to have to update your current technology. To put it simply, innovate or die.
What happens when retail companies fail to innovate?
Gymboree — the once-popular children’s clothing store that’s been around for 32 years — recently declared bankruptcy. The company failed to focus on its ecommerce site with online sales amounting to only one-fourth of its entire revenue. Gymboree’s Chief Restructuring Officer James Mesterharm actually admitted that the company’s web systems were “dated and unsupported.”
Another doomed retail giant — one that actually sold technology but failed to implement it — is RadioShack. The company didn’t even offer an online shopping option until 2006, and even then, it was a “ship-to-store” only site. By that time it was too late, as shoppers had already started flocking to Amazon, BestBuy, and even eBay.
In order to thrive in today’s ecommerce environment, retail stores have to stay ahead of their competitors by focusing on what the next wave of shopping will look like and how they can meet customer needs in the future. And in order to do that, they’re going to have to invest in the right software solutions.
Don’t let bad software kill your business
Having the latest software solutions for each area of your business is critical to remaining relevant. According to Deloitte’s 2019 Retail Industry Trends report, retailers must “figure out how to scale these solutions and embed them into their way of doing business. To leverage the true power of next-generation technologies, retailers should make some significant changes. They should be able to consistently mine the data they collect, transform their operations to deliver on the brand promise, and adapt to the future of work.”
Based on our own experience with various clients in the retail sector, here are just some of the business processes that can be improved by updating bad or out-of-date software.
From recruiting the right talent to managing payroll and work schedule, customized applications featuring new technologies like artificial intelligence are critical to business success.
The right HR solution can automate many day-to-day time-consuming tasks, keep the company in compliance with legal and governmental regulations, and even help nurture and retain employees by helping them communicate better.
In 2018, H&M implemented Convo’s Retail Social Collaboration Platform for 500 stores and over 15,000 employees. Convo replaces standard work email with a type of social media application that encourages communication and collaboration. The platform was chosen to help H&M provide a higher level of customer service for both its in-store and online shoppers.
Yet another “Amazon-effect” that is causing so many retailers angst is the company’s guaranteed 2-day delivery policy. Not only do consumers expect their deliveries that quickly, but they also expect to be able to track them every step of the way.
A robust supply chain management solution makes it easy to automate inventory control as well as shipping and logistics. This is especially important for companies with several brick-and-mortar locations.
Target recently modernized its entire supply chain management system. Rather than placing bulk orders for out-of-stock items that result in large shipments requiring additional storage space, the company’s ordering system is now based on what will fit on the shelves at any particular time. This has led to improved efficiencies and reduced costs.
What H&M, Walmart and Target all have in common is that they are thriving rather than striving in today’s challenging retail sector. And the reason they’re succeeding is because of their willingness to embrace the latest technologies.
The only way to avoid becoming yet another tombstone in the retail graveyard is to stay on top of technology and stay ahead of your competitors. Having a customized top-notch software solution that is tailored to your particular retail needs and goals can be the silver bullet to your ultimate success.
Innovate or die should not just be your company slogan. It should be your way of life.