By Ian Auerbach, Industry Principal, Store Solutions

Walking the NRF show floor last week, it was clear that retailers and software vendors are honing in on the value of a single commerce platform to serve consumers across all channels. While the benefits are becoming clearer to retailers, the reality is they’ll need to dig deep and consider the following 3 overarching imperatives:

1. Understand the market and internal landscape

  • Navigate the vendor landscape – Which software vendors are able to provide a single commerce platform? And what components will be offered natively by that vendor versus integration to third party applications? No one single vendor is going to offer everything needed to run a complete retail enterprise. The key is to choose a platform that offers solid functionality, has integration points that are easy to plug into, is constantly innovating and provides a backbone that will allow the retailer to adapt quickly to the constantly changing business requirements.
  • Wire your organization for change – Retailers should engage the business leaders within the company to gain consensus on a path forward and build shared requirements for a new common transaction platform.

2. Establish a technology roadmap

  • Consider the cloud – Retailers should examine how to leverage the cloud to centrally manage consumer-facing systems, offload infrastructure maintenance and provide elastic scalability for peak usage and growth.
  • Mobilize and empower store associates – Retailers should move store associates from behind the register, arm them with the same information that consumers have, provide training and incentives, and empower them to leverage hardware and software capabilities.
  • Invest in wireless – Retailers should leverage initiatives such as guided selling, clienteling and endless aisle, all of which have the potential to increase service and revenue to help fund wireless investments.

3. Drive continual innovation.

  • Consumer demands are changing at a rapid pace and innovation is currency in the shopping experience – Innovation and speed are not one-time events. Instead, they must become standard operating procedure, made possible by a flexible and scalable platform.