Omnichannel as the Norm: Why Retailers Must Outsource Their IT

By Paul Wolf, Vice President, Retail and Consumer Products at Xerox

Paul Wolf
“Store associates can only exceed customer expectations when systems and technologies work all the time.” — Paul Wolf, vice president of Retail and Consumer Products for Xerox.

Let’s start with the obvious: The Consumer is ever-present, seemingly all-knowing and technologically sophisticated. They expect stores and online sites to exceed their expectations in terms of service, much of which relies on a relentless flurry of technologies and devices that must be considered, delivered, managed and maintained.

Omnichannel exists because retailers, and those of us serving retailers, must deliver touchpoints that look, feel and act the same, despite “the real world” in which disparate systems and devices are not the same. Delivering a cohesive customer experience, regardless of touchpoint or channel, is monumental in terms of business processes and systems. Think corporate infrastructure, supplier-related systems and all of the in-store elements: servers, POS/peripherals, wireless, tablets, electronic shelf labels, beacons, digital signage, and even digital mirrors. Just one minor performance blip among any of these can empty a store of consumers. And sales.

What’s the answer as omnichannel settles in and becomes status quo on your IT infrastructure?

It gets backs to the store – and the infrastructure that delivers performance and service. Essentially, store associates can only exceed customer expectations when systems and technologies work all the time. No downtime. Technology is more abundant and complex, and more difficult to manage with limited IT resources. Here are three must-knows for retailers and omnichannel success.

 The 3 “Must Knows” of Omnichannel

1.   Start with “What do I need?”

Omnichannel requires examining the big picture as well as the labor resources that support and manage your technologies. “What I need” requires answers to these questions: Is there a centralized service desk for all in-store issues? Is there consolidated and proactive systems management in place? Are you able to manage store-level glitches by first having a preventive program and processes in place? And do your vendors really know the industry the best way to minimize disruptions in the first place?

2.   Know What You Get.

Are you experiencing practical solutions or just pontificated promises? Make sure your providers are genuine—and can validate their claims. If vendors say they can support 35,000 stores and seamlessly manage half a million devices (like Xerox can, and does for one client[GRP1] ), make them show it and prove it.

3.   Know What Really Matters.

Uptime, issue resolution and customer satisfaction are the must-haves within any retail experience. Losing sales and customers because POS terminals are down isn’t acceptable. Sales associates who can’t quickly resolve a tech glitch can’t happen. Ever. Customers and sales associates must experience quick-time resolution and satisfaction.

These are the crux of successful omnichannel delivery. What happens behind the scenes is paramount, as is a retailer’s decision to identify and work with a provider that knows what reliable and dependable really mean in terms of store-level infrastructure, tech support and more.

There is one omnichannel equation that matters: Happy customers = sales = happy, successful retailers.

Omnichannel boils down to people and partnership. These equal performance.

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One Comment

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