By David Dorf-Oracle on May 12, 2014
Buying new retail software is only the first step. Retailers have to get the software implemented, and that's where many projects go off the tracks. To minimize risk and keep costs in check, here are a few ideas for better implementations:
1. Vanilla. One of the larger costs can be customization of software, but often times retailers are customizing without real business benefit. If it doesn't offer competitive differentiation, vanilla is probably sufficient. Kirklands (video) went this direction and is realizing the benefits of new software and is well positioned to more easily accept upgrades.
2. Sequence. When implementing a suite, address the business' pain-points first. This front-loads your return on investment, and sometimes the return from the first application can help fund subsequent applications. Advanced Auto Parts (video) took a phased approach that provided the most value for their business. Don't accept predetermined implementation sequences that aren't tailored to your business.
3. Clean data. As they say, "garbage in, garbage out." Prepare for the implementation by cleansing data as Hot Topic did. You wouldn't move to a new house without tossing all the useless junk in the attic, so take the same stance with all that stale data. It will definitely ease data migrations and provide fewer testing hiccups.
4. Cloud. Often its easier to rely on partners to host software in a cloud model. As a smaller, growing company, C. Wonder wanted to focus less on IT and more on retailing so they hosted their merchandising and planning systems with Logic Information Systems, an OPN partner. Patches and upgrades are applied automatically without missing a beat.
5. Specialization. Having the right knowledgeable people involved in the project is key to its success. Most resources are not interchangeable between merchandising, planning, supply chain, and commerce. Those areas require specialization as each has its own set of requirements and challenges. Retailers should make sure their projects are staffed by system integrators with specialized resources.