What tech trends are transforming retail?
Mark Hudson: “In the past, retailers were so focused on keeping up with consumer trends by way of introducing new products, they overlooked the workload and actual process and costs of bringing these products to market. I’m seeing the latest tech trends migrate from supporting downstream efforts (retailer to consumers) to supporting more of an upstream approach (retailer to suppliers).
“The focus is shifting from tech trends that support increased same-store sales and increased market share — consumer loyalty data, SKU rationalization and assortment optimization — to downstream data that supports reducing supply chain costs and increases a product’s speed to market. Product development, sourcing, quality and supply chain automation are all areas that make up the fastest-growing tech trends as the footwear and retail industries look to deliver products to market ahead of consumer expectations more efficiently and [in a more] cost-effective [manner].
Supply chain costs make up roughly 33 percent of the cost of a product. By investing in downstream technology trends, retailers or brands have a greater ability to create raving fans by way of speed to market, increased assortments, data accuracy, quality assurance and lower costs.”
Why is it critical that brands and retailers turn to technology-forward solutions?
M.H.: “In today’s competitive retail industry, bankruptcies and store closures dominate the daily news, and retailers and brands face a myriad of pains and issues just to survive. To maintain their margins and competitiveness — and ensure survival — footwear brands/retailers need to turn to technology innovations or be hit with slumping profits, layoffs and store closures. The industry is at a crossroad and needs to become proactive versus reactive.”
How can footwear businesses seek to improve?
M.H.: “I see too many organizations spend years implementing their technology purchases, using valuable resources, time and money, only to confirm what was realized during the first year — that the wrong technology selection was made. If it’s not working, don’t wait to move in a different direction. I’d recommend implementation projects be rolled out in phases. As with any enterprise system implementation, a ‘big bang’ approach is rarely encouraged.
“Determining the scope and the planning of the initial and future phases should be based on the organization’s business priorities and internal project resource bandwidth/readiness. Typically, I recommend considering at least four phases, or streams, for meeting the ultimate desired business scope while keeping the initial stream relatively focused on realizing high user adoption and building out the system prerequisites upon which future functionality can be rolled out easily and effectively.”
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