9 Best practices for building your tech strategy with Retail Pro Prism
Now, against the backdrop of smooth, systemically-run performance, independent retailers are taking a double hit. You are competing against Tier 1’s brand equity and economies of scale, and you’re losing profit to pure-play retailers who are saving on overhead costs and investing into channel efficiencies. Bottlenecks, duplicitous inventory and process, and lost opportunities are multiplying your costs at exponential rates. A well-planned and customized retail tech strategy is a necessity.
So how can you use Retail Pro technology to adapt to the demands of modern retailing and deliver the quick and efficient experience consumers expect from you? What does it take on the technology end to make it happen?
Here are 9 best practices for building your tech strategy with Retail Pro Prism.
1. Define the challenge
Focus on one operational bottleneck or customer-facing issue. Topher Mallory of Mexicali Blues https://www.retailpro.com/include/eng/SuccessStories/Mexicali-Blues/ chose to focus on the issue of inventory optimization.
You might choose to focus on promotions or employee management, or vendor relationships. Whatever your focus, make sure it’s specific enough so that you aren’t trying to reinvent your whole retail operation before the weekend comes.
2. Determine the outcome you want to achieve with your tech strategy
Once you have in mind the particular area of your business that you want to reform, think about what you’d like to achieve. Is it a particular inventory turnover rate, or a certain increase in customer retention from your loyalty initiatives, or greater collaboration along the supply chain?
3. Design the experience
How do you want customers to interact with you? How do customers expect to interact with you? What will the experience be like in your store versus online? How will you connect the two, along with any pop-up stores, kiosks, catalogs, etc. that you may have?
Online How will your online channel be tied into your physical stores? Will your shoppers have the ability to see which nearby store has the product they’re looking for? Will they be able to reserve or buy online, and then pick it up at that location? How will that store location know to have the product ready for your customer?
In the store, do you want customers to have a self-guided digital experience or a high-touch, personalized experience? That’ll determine hardware – mobility or kiosk? How will payments fit in? Will you need Bluetooth printers for mobile devices? You’ll need Wi-Fi for that. Will your store associates be able to look up inventory at other locations? How will you collect data from all of that – and more importantly, how will you CONNECT the data points to know when they’re talking about the same customer? What’s the recurring theme here? Connectedness. How will you connect your channels, connect your inventory, connect your data?
4. Build the foundation for connected retail with platform retail management technology
Platform retail management software is a foundation for your technology.
Think of it as if you’re building a store out of legos:
- Lego shelf structures with little beacons attached.
- Lego checkout counter with POS, EMV compliant mobile payments platform, digital receipts, and loyalty application.
- Lego kiosk where shoppers can order something that’s out of stock.
- Lego backroom with RFID-tagged inventory.
- Lego server where your web store lives.
- Lego store in a different part of town.
- Lego warehouse where vendor trucks are delivering products.
- Lego vendor warehouse where those products are being picked and packed.
And what is this whole retail world standing on? A base. A platform that is connecting all of those different touchpoints to the same reality.
That’s what platform retail management technology does. It creates a base to which you can connect:
- your customer data
- your inventory data
- your transaction data
- data from your e-commerce, payments, marketing, loyalty, business intelligence applications
- data from your vendors for drop-ship
Any kind of tool you use, a retail management platform will be the point of connection to which all data flows. And with Application Program Interface, you can build on it – your applications are running on shared data. Your loyalty application is being informed by both your online and in-store channels. Your digital receipts are generating data that can be pulled into your business intelligence and marketing software to help optimize processes or personalize your marketing communications.
A platform unifies all your data into one data set, so you’re getting a holistic picture of how your customer is interacting with you.
Wherever you are in your tech strategy, having platform technology like Retail Pro Prism is a foundational step to achieving that kind of connectivity and thriving in modern retail.
And you have a lot of options in how you can get there with Retail Pro. These are some of the things you can do with Retail Pro Prism today.
- In-store mobility – The Retail Pro Prism app supports Apple’s iOS along with Windows and Android devices. Portrait layout in the Retail Pro Prism user interface gives greater ease when accessing the software on small mobile devices like the iPod Touch.
- Omnichannel order fulfillment – Retail Pro Prism allows associates to create sales at one location and fulfill the order at any other location, as part of retailers’ BOPIS, Click and Collect and other omnichannel offerings.
- On-hand inventory availability lookup – With inventory visibility that goes deep into a particular store (within a single bin or shelf) or enterprise-wide, sales associates can look up product availability and validate items by their inventory image straight from the POS. Retailers can tie this visibility to their e-commerce site and allow shoppers to reserve items from the nearest store.
- Customer-centric flexibility at the POS – Sales associates have easy access to POS options, including transaction lookup, pending transactions, central customer lookup, gift card balance check, promotions, and customer tax assignments and rebates.
- Purchasing & Receiving – Create purchase orders to order merchandise from vendors and create vouchers to receive merchandise and update inventory on-hand quantities.
5. Build the infrastructure of your tech strategy
How will your tech facilitate that experience? There are 2 parts to consider here: deployment and use.
- Deployment with Retail Pro Prism is flexible. You can choose to deploy centrally or at a local, store level server, or a hybrid of the two. Some retailers are running Retail Pro from the cloud.
- Retail Pro Prism handles a great variety of retail environments, so you’ll need to decide how you will put it to best use for your retail objective, whether you use it as your customer-facing, mobile POS with custom-branded UI, or as your complete retail management solution with full employee management, promotions, and store operations with omnichannel functions like send-sale.
6. Connect ancillary tools and supply chain
At this point you’ve established your foundation and now, with Retail Pro Prism APIs, you can integrate your supply chain and any of the ancillary tools you use.
One Retail Pro user, Massey’s Professional Outfitters in Louisiana, USA, integrated an e-commerce solution and a vendor drop ship solution to their Retail Pro platform. Because both of those solutions are exchanging data through Retail Pro, they were able to automate the process such that, when the software acknowledges the absence of the inventory upon order completion, it sends the order directly to the vendor for fulfillment, eliminating stock outs and transportation costs. The kind of visibility they have with the Retail Pro platform allows them to keep lower inventory and rebalance inventory between stores.
7. Connect the digital with the experience
Once you have the infrastructure and tools in place, now apply them to both the virtual and physical experience your customers will have. That, primarily, translates to how you leverage the data you collect from all those touchpoints.
Some Retail Pro users have iPads with their e-commerce site at each of their stores for cross-selling across their various locations. For you, it’s a sale. For the customer, it’s happiness – they never leave your store disappointed because you didn’t have what they wanted. As one Retail Pro retailer said, “In order for the specialty store to survive, we have to change the way we do business. Our goal is to combine the in-store personal shopping experience with the convenience of online shopping.”
8. Train the employees
Employee buy-in is absolutely critical for your strategy to work so take the time and really train them on the process, on how to make the most of your Retail Pro investment, on how to reinforce your brand essence in every interaction with the customer.
In talking to retailers who are moving to Retail Pro, we often hear that the in-store mobile POS was gathering dust because employees weren’t trained on how to maximize its use in various everyday scenarios like:
- Line busting
- Mobile POS
- Inventory lookup
- Customer history lookup for clienteling
That’s why Retail Pro users have access to the Retail Pro University with its flexible training options, including online training so you can train employees at the pace of your retail environment. This is especially useful considering the employee turnover rate in retail! You have hundreds of training videos available to you on the My Retail Pro resource portal, along with other useful resources like documentation, knowledgebase articles from our Tech Support team, and the App Market, which shows you our various development partners for applications like loyalty, payments, marketing, etc..
9. Use your findings to keep optimizing the tech strategy
Calibration is an ongoing art. Use the data you collect and the insights you make to keep refining your strategy as the industry changes, as your customers grow up, as their needs change.
Identifying your ideal tech strategy for optimizing your ability to drive sustainable sale growth and operations takes some intentional effort that repays you in dividends. Important elementary elements of the process are analyzing your current state and data and your business goals, and applying the same attention to detail to connecting each channel of your business. The foundation of any retail technology strategy is a retail management platform, which creates a base to which you can connect each tool your operation uses and the data that they all collect. Retail Pro Prism gives the ability for functions important today such as omnichannel order fulfillment and provides a flexible foundation for building off of, incorporating ancillary products easily with API choices.