Retail Change Management Part II: Integrating New Tech for Speed-to-Market

By Sahir Anand, Principal Analyst/VP Research, EKN — November 03, 2016

Unified Commerce in the Store & The Need for Agile and Secure Integration
In our last report as part of the ongoing series, we focused on change management as an enabler for deeper omnichannel execution. Using several varied systems for customer service automation in the store is neither time-efficient nor user-friendly. Customers can be served far better in the store without the sales channel, organization, device and data silos. The next few years will define whether or not there will be a steady move towards unified commerce (integrated store systems that facilitate all types of channel orders, returns, exchanges and one view of customer information) in the store.

With the average age of a fully deployed POS system at seven years (EKN's 2015 POS Blueprint Study), unified commerce solutions can take over where legacy POS systems have created gaping opportunities in operational and customer service space. The cumbersome user experience, lack of ease of access to customer information and difficulty in creating unified shopping carts that combine online/catalog orders with in-store purchases, are only some of the challenges faced by more than a third of retailers. 

Seamless shopping behavior can be triggered via a unified commerce platform. Such platforms have the ability to combine omnichannel product catalogs, customer information, offers, orders, payments and post-purchase experience. Such a strategy can help only if retailers follow the right change management strategy that includes an agile and secure integration of data systems.

Chart 1: Features That Are the Most Important When Evaluating POS Upgrades

 

Important

Neither important nor unimportant

Not important

Relative importance on a scale of 1-3

Data security compliance

96%

4%

0%

2.0

Ease of integration

90%

8%

1%

1.9

Easy to use/user-interface

86%

13%

1%

1.8

Ease of future upgrades

81%

19%

0%

1.8

Lifecycle

69%

30%

1%

1.7

Mobile or tablet enabled POS

61%

36%

2%

1.6

EMV pin-pad

60%

34%

6%

1.5

Integrate loyalty tools

51%

48%

1%

1.5

BI & reporting

51%

43%

6%

1.5

NFC payment

44%

47%

9%

1.4

Integrate mobile wallet

40%

48%

12%

1.3

Social media integration

34%

48%

18%

1.2

Availability of deployment options

33%

60%

7%

1.3

Touchscreen signage

32%

54%

14%

1.2

RFID-enablement

30%

44%

26%

1.0

Open source operating system

30%

49%

21%

1.1

Beacon integration

19%

63%

18%

1.0

Biometrics authentication

16%

54%

30%

0.9


Source: EKN POS Blueprint Study, 2015


Change management not only involves training but also entails deeper collaboration and integration between different retail systems for higher usage and adoption. After data security, 90 percent of retailers place the highest level of importance on having ease of integration when evaluating upgrades or replacements to POS systems. Integration with ERP and other point applications such as CRM, ecommerce, mobile, social commerce, inventory management, business intelligence, workforce management, and other applications requires time, effort and resources. Ease of integration is an integral part of any process or system transition strategy in retail. And it requires infusion of change management programs for both headquarter executives and managers/associates in the stores. Retailers find it hard to address the top IT challenge which requires dealing with too many legacy systems and the cost of managing such systems.

Case in point, as stated in EKN's 2015 Omnichannel Customer Profitability research, the top three challenges for retailers to be truly omninchannel include difficulties in integration of new systems with existing systems. As highlighted in chart #1 above, ease of user interface and ease of future upgrades are the two related benefits that retailers are seeking from the new POS improvements in the stores such as the move towards unified commerce systems. In today's dynamic business environment, retailers want their stores to enable seamless omnichannel order and digital commerce capabilities. Moreover, for such capabilities to work, inventory and related customer data must seamlessly integrate across multiple capabilities such as buy or reserve online & pick-up in-store, ship online orders from store to customers, use of mobile coupons, gift cards or mobile payments in-store and other use cases.

The obvious question that pops up is how retailers can make such a transition to unified commerce systems and new POS improvements a bit more palatable for the store managers and associates? It is, after all, the store managers, associates and other HQ-based POS operations managers who use the old POS system interfaces and processes the most on a day-to-day basis.


Chart 2: Unified Commerce Integration Requires Data Sharing?
 

Real-time

Hourly

Many times a day

Once / twice a day

Once / twice a week

Once / twice a month

Ad-hoc request

Store inventory data

50%

5%

9%

24%

7%

2%

3%

Store sales data

48%

21%

10%

16%

3%

0%

2%

Pricing system data

46%

12%

5%

27%

3%

2%

5%

Customer related information

40%

4%

16%

15%

5%

0%

20%

Loyalty/rewards system data

38%

2%

11%

13%

5%

0%

31%

Staffing system data

32%

9%

21%

16%

2%

2%

18%

Promotions engine data

31%

9%

5%

24%

16%

0%

15%

Personalized recommendation engine data

19%

6%

13%

9%

6%

0%

48%

Logistics and transportation system data

18%

13%

7%

38%

7%

2%

16%


Source: EKN POS Blueprint Study, 2015


Data Sharing Is the First Step towards Effective Change Management
Per EKN analysis, unified commerce in the store requires seamless sharing of data and content so that there is no real latency in the access to customer and product information, store messaging, order orchestration, pricing or promotions, inventory, payments and ERP-related updates. Currently, the top three areas for real-time sharing of data include: inventory, pricing and sales-related data. But clearly these three areas are not sufficiently preparing retailers for addressing new customer segments and future customer needs in the store.

There is not nearly enough data sharing/integration nor the velocity in store operations areas such as orders/logistics, personalized sales recommendations to customers, customer relationship information, loyalty, associate or workforce management data. This means that valuable insights are not used by headquarter and store teams as all types of customer and product-related data is not generated or shared on a timely basis. This hampers effective execution of order management, customer messaging, in-stock inventory management, pricing and promotion management and other capabilities in the stores.

In most, if not all, of the data types outlined in chart #2, retailers need to deliver on at least hourly data assembly, analysis and access to all concerned stores. Headquarters should assist in agile customer service and operational decision-making in areas such as agile replenishment, store-to-store transfers, seasonal planograms, weather or trend impacted assortments, new promotions, competitive pricing updates, etc.

Companies need to invest time and effort in creating and following a comprehensive change management plan for unified commerce transitions in the stores where data integration/access needs to be on top of the priority list.

Recommendations:
  • Conduct a detailed assessment of store-related change management requirements- data integration, data access, resources and training when conducting store systems migration towards unified commerce systems (S/T)
  • Assign core responsibility of store systems change management to store operations and IT director (S/T)
  • Make hybrid cloud-based data sharing among core (transaction, scanning, cash audit, pin entry device, inventory, payments, order management, ecommerce, others) and non-core store applications (business intelligence, loyalty, social, mobile payments, others) as a critical component of store's migration towards unified commerce (M/T)
  • Ensure periodic reporting of store change management activities to both HQ and store teams for performance management (M/T)

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