Getting in-store technology right is tricky but increasingly important in today's marketplace. In this Retail Roundup Rob Smith, MD of Digital Commerce specialists Blueleaf, shares his advice on how you can overcome the three main barriers to success.
If you'd prefer to read about Rob's tips rather than watch the video, here's the content:
Hello, I'm Rob Smith, MD of Blueleaf and today I'm going to talk about the three main blockers to getting good traction and great results with in-store technology.
So firstly, I'm going to define what I mean by 'in-store technology'; the main thing I'm talking about is getting your website within your store portfolio. Then you can implement things like 'endless aisle' solutions, enabling you to get all of the products that are on your website into your stores, to increase the number of products on offer and therefore, sales. You can also look at things like digital fitting rooms, beacons and various other technologies but these are more advanced than the 'endless aisle' solutions.
Here are my thoughts on the three main blockers to success and how you can avoid them:
There's politics going on in every organisation so how do we get over this? The main questions that I'm asked are "if we deploy something in-store how do we make sure the store staff are properly incentivised?", "who looks after the technology, keeps it up-to-date, advances it and makes it better?" and finally, "who's P&L does it come under?" The simple answer is that really, you need to get rid of these questions before you can prove you have a business case (which we'll come onto later).
Here are some potential solutions. P&L could come under the ecommerce or multi-channel team,if that's what your company calls it. But the sales staff in the store still have to have it as part of their incentives and bonuses because if they don't use the technology, it's dead in the water. You must engage with the people who are going to use it.
The P&L responsibility, as far as I'm concerned, can sit anywhere as long as it's deployed. I only suggested ecommerce because they're related and therefore, it's a natural extension. Ideally your structure will facilitate this with retail and multichannel being under one leadership with a customer-centric approach (check out my other videos about this).
Really, we just need to make sure the simple things are in the right place and someone is driving the initiative and it's not left to drop between the cracks, which unfortunately is often the case.
This is the big thing that I see slowing things down and preventing results from being generated. Retailers think they have to solve the big problem, so a lot go through till replacements for example and of course, there's a lot of new promise in this area as till systems are trying to run into the technology game. Then you get the website coming from a different direction than other technologies, also pushing for retailer's attention and the result is lots of people saying basically the same thing but coming at it from different directions. This can really slow down the approach to implementing in-store technology because people look to try and solve their till problems then in-store, or they look to solve everything at once and as you know, things torpedo. If you work in a non-agile, IT company getting through this mess can take a long time! Meanwhile, you're missing out on sales.
Unknown business case
The final blocker that I'm going to discuss, is unknown sales uplift. We often quote 3 - 5% sales uplift across the board when using an 'endless aisle' solution because we've seen these results with a number of retailers. But this is very generic and it's across a number of industries so how do you know what the business case is going to be for your brand? The truth is you don't. But I'd argue that the business case for in-store technology is much more widely understood and many have achieved successful results with this, more than with any back-end system replacement or efficiency gains and yet those initiatives seem to get much more traction and popularity.
So how do we get over these main blockers? Firstly, you have to put them aside. I know that sounds a little ridiculous but I genuinely believe you have to forget about it, almost give it to a special projects team to trial it in a small way. One of the ways M&S do this is they have a specific store to trial all their in-store tech in. The staff are expecting it and therefore more in tune to it so they get good results and good learnings are achieved and feedback. Don't try to change the world, try it in a few stores. You will then get an inkling for potential uplift by a well-trained set of staff.
Finally, don't overlook staff training, it's one of the most important aspects of implementation. Learn how staff use the technology, through your trial and beyond and if you're managing the trial, then go to the shop floor and learn first-hand. This trial will let you know what technology you need and you'll avoid the politics because you'll have a proven business case.
Thanks for listening, I hope this video helps you with your in-store implementation. Please let me know if I can help further.