As retailers scramble to provide a seamless omni-channel experience, they are investing heavily in new core merchandising technology. These can take years to implement, all the while the marketplace continues to change, and competition grows.
Replacing core merchandising systems while you continue to do business is like as performing a heart and lungs transplant while the patient is running a marathon. Although essential, a certain amount of finesse along with an awareness of external influences, needs to be maintained in order for the operation to succeed.
Yet, like most other customer-centric initiatives today, technology plays a crucial part in staying relevant and profitable. Installing a new system over the course of three to five (even seven) years can be fraught with pitfalls. Things change.
I am reminded of a major telecommunications company I worked with some years ago. It had expanded so much and so quickly that its offices were spread across the town in which it was based. It had units on every industrial park and above many retail stores on the high street.
A new HQ was planned to bring all of the staff together. Planned to take three years to build, growth was such that it was already too small after 18 months—and things had changed so fast that the building was out of date one year into the build.
Retailers which are replacing core merchandising technology face similar risks.
For an established retailer, the investment to become omni-channel can be huge; it means incorporating massive business change because, previously, all systems and processes were optimized for a single channel, now they need to deal across channels.
Take Walmart, for example, one of the largest retailers in the world. It failed to take the explosion in e-commerce growth into consideration and is currently playing catch-up, investing billions of dollars in technology to compete with the likes of Amazon.
Even with the best of foresight a retailer cannot always predict what hurdles or new innovations might be thrown in its path, so agility is key when replacing or updating the core merchandising ecosystem. The marathon analogy is apt: your company is running a competitive marathon and it needs its IT systems – its heart and lungs - replaced while it is running. You cannot slow down or take time in hospital, because your competitors are running beside you with fully functioning hearts and lungs.
But over the three to five years it might take to implement, is it flexible enough to adapt to any requirements that new business challenges could well create in that time? Will a new ‘Digital Disruptor’ require a response?
It is for tor this reason that some of the world’s leading retailers are working with Software AG’s Digital Business Platform. The Digital Business Platform was built with one key principle in mind: that existing business application software is not adaptable enough to support what is required for digital business. Digital business creates the need to rapidly support new innovative go-to-market initiatives. These initiatives may span multiple systems, require streamlined processes and deal with massive quantities of real-time data.
Retailers are utilizing the Digital Business Platform in order to augment capability from existing systems as well as systems that are currently being implemented, to create innovative solutions to compete in an ever changing retail landscape.