How to Sell to IT Solution to Retail Industry? – Top 5 Tips
It is vital for service providers to develop an in depth knowledge of your customers industry, trends, challenges and opportunities that shape the decisions of senior managers. As a service provider it is not sufficient just to know how your customers make money but it is equally important to know how your customers utilize their assets including technology. And applying that knowledge to anticipate the customer needs to improve their business.
I would like to share a few key challenges in the retail industry today and where are the opportunities as a trusted service provider to your customer.
What is the retail industry? Simply put, all businesses that sell goods and services to consumers are part of the retail industry. Included in this category are department stores, specialty stores (such as Nike, Adidas chain) and luxury brand stores – Chanel, LVMH etc.
Challenges – Inventory
One of the worst things that can happen to a retailer is for a product to be out of stock, because if it isn`t there, the consumers can’t buy it. And if the consumers can`t buy it, it means lost revenue to the business.
However, carrying large stocks of inventory in warehouses can tie up capital that can be put to use elsewhere in the business. Thus, the retailers will always attempt to keep their inventory levels low while maintaining just enough inventories in the warehouse so that stores are sufficiently supplied.
This intricate balancing act requires a constant communications flow between stores and its’ own distribution centers, or distributors. Any outages in this communication flow would result in stocks level mismatch that could cost revenue lost and/or brand reputation damage.
Challenges – Manufacturing Offsourcing
For large businesses such as toy manufacturers , Hasbro , Mattel, having goods manufactured on a contract basis in emerging market, is one way of controlling costs. These big names are expanding into market like China ,forming joint venture or offshoring their manufacturing function to emerging countries. All the above effectively extends its’ supply chain globally. Thus, this creates additional level of administration and demand scalable connectivity between all its’ business presence globally.
Challenges – Expansion to New Markets
The network must able to scale as retailers grow and expand its business to the different markets and countries. Having to redesign networks, and replace equipment that is unable to meet the demand of the additional connectivity , could inhibit, delay or totally halt expansion initiatives. This translate to huge lost in revenue and market shares if its competitors are more agile to react to this challenge.
Challenges – New Channels of engagement
In retail, the shopper’s experience is everything. It’s how browsing becomes buying, consumers become brand advocates and retailers influence the purchase path. One way of engaging the consumers of today, is through web channels. And this mandates broadband speed requirement for retail businesses. Consumers expect the availability of internet access everywhere whether it is through Wifi, laptop or via their mobile devices.
Challenges – Data Security
Retailers must be able to share data between headquarters, regional distribution centers and satellites branches. This data could include sales projection, supplier pricing and even customer’s financial data. Over the past several years, retailers have started collecting information about customer purchases to enable them to identify and track buying patterns of their consumers. All this information must be protected at all points on the network from theft by competitors or data identity thieves. In terms of compliance and regulatory, security standard such as PCI-DSS has become mandatory requirement to pass internal and external audits.
Hence, with the above trends and challenges faced by retail industry today. Someone who truly understands the retail industry lingo and challenges, someone who is not just a technology expert but an industry expert who can translate these challenges to opportunities to help your customers to grow their business is poised to succeed.