Your most valuable customer is the one who will shop your brand in-store, online, and anywhere else you decide to go.
Research from IDC suggests that these shoppers are 30 percent more valuable than single-channel shoppers who stick to only physical stores or shop only online. But to build a lasting relationship with those shoppers, you’ll need the right technology to keep up with them.
The set of tech solutions you use to run your business is commonly known as your “stack,” and it plays a critical role in how people experience your brand across channels. Not all tools are created equal, so how do you choose what goes in your stack? The key is to invest in services and products that are aligned with your brand and support great experiences for both customers and employees.
With new technology being introduced all the time, a regular reassessment of your retail tech stack is now table stakes to successfully grow and scale a modern retail brand. A better retail stack means a better customer experience, and a better customer experience results in better sales.
Think you might need to review your retail stack? Here are four steps to consider before jumping in.
1. Prioritize your core software solutions.
Whether you have an existing retail tech stack in place or you’re trying to build from scratch, start with your core software for making online and offline sales. These basic solutions should be prioritized because they are closest to customers and staff. They will also capture your most important data—sales. As additional solutions are adopted over time (e.g., accounting/financial, shipping/3PL, ERP, customer support, and marketing/email), those technologies will be integrated with the solutions in this core group.
Many vendors are promoting their own vertically integrated stacks that are intended to be easy, one-stop solutions for retailers. In reality, a single-vendor solution is often a great starting point but can be limiting as the business grows; it is difficult for any single vendor to deliver “best-in-breed” depth and performance across the whole stack.
Retailers are generally better off embracing a flexible strategy built around the best solutions available to serve each specific business role. In addition to giving you a more powerful, high-performance stack, this “best-of-breed” approach also gives you more choices when adding new solutions or upgrading to better options as they become available.
2. Commit to analytics.
Analytics tools often get overlooked when building a retail tech stack. One reason this happens is that analytics doesn’t play a direct role in operations, even though it can support operational performance in many ways.
Some businesses also downgrade the importance of analytics because similar tools are often built into other software solutions you likely already use. However, these built-in analytics tools lack the capabilities and insights that a dedicated analytics solution can offer.
In the early stages of building your stack, you’ll want a high-performance analytics solution to generate meaningful insights about how your retail solutions are supporting (or holding back) your business.
3. Get retail leadership on board with your plan.
Building and maintaining a strong stack takes time and money, and technical errors will happen even under the best circumstances. If the costs associated with correcting these errors catch business owners by surprise, it can induce panic and force decision makers to hit pause on using any additional tech solutions.
As your retail stack takes shape, you’ll want to earn buy-in from business owners and other stakeholders to get assurances of their support throughout the project.
Take time to help them understand the value of each solution and the new opportunities they offer. You’ll also need to make a case for the testing and training time that will be required to switch over to these new technologies.
4. Add additional components one by one.
In the quest to build the greatest retail stack ever, it can be tempting to add additional components as fast as possible so that you can finish the project sooner and start enjoying the benefits of your new setup.
But adding too many components too fast can create a technology and training nightmare. Integrations can develop problems, components can go offline, and your tech stack can quickly collapse in on itself.
To avoid these issues, add one piece at a time and conduct thorough testing to make sure each solution is fully integrated with the existing ecosystem before you move on to the next one. A rush job to build the stack quicker can end up costing more time and money than a slow, careful process.
A retail stack is never a finished product. As technology evolves, so will the solutions you use to improve your customer experience and grow your business.
When assembling these solutions, keep an eye on the future and give yourself room to adapt and grow. You can do this by investing in technology that plays well with others and gives customers what they’re seeking from their retail shopping experience. Have questions about your retail stack? Send us a message via chat and we’ll be happy to help!