Is 'Best of Breed' necessarily the best?

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When it comes to choosing retail software is ‘best of breed’ really the best option? Sure if it was a perfect IT world then having the best option of anything would seem to be the obvious preference. The problem is it’s not that straight forward. There are so many touch points that must be taken into consideration on top of purely the applications. These include integration, implementation, training, future upgrades and support just to name a few.

If we examine what has been happening recently with ecommerce, for most retailers adopting a web presence is no longer considered an option, it’s become core competency. This article does not address the advantages of adopting a web offering, that’s a blog in itself but, to the questions and concerns that need to be considered once the decision has been made.

First consider the obvious, we’re in business to make money and service our customers, while hopefully growing our business. This philosophy should be no different when we look to expand our reach with ecommerce. So, we need to analyse our business structure and how we proceed logistically with this new venture. Especially if we’re a smaller retailer, odds are we don’t have the resources or confidence to open up a unique channel just to manage this venture. This means that we are potentially relying on existing stock, staff and IT systems to manage this.

This is an example where if we’re not diligent best of breed could actually cause more headaches then benefits. There are a number of best of breed ecommerce packages that provide the latest features, but this is only one component of success. What we must ensure assuming the ecommerce solution is different to our back end system is that the all necessary data is flowing between them and without pointing fingers this could be an issue for either the ecommerce solution or the beck end package. For example our customer will assume their order has gone through, but we might not have provided a reference of the transaction on the website or a dynamic representation of the order being processed through the back end system. This could result in potential phones calls or email that need to be managed. So be diligent when it comes to the how the two systems are interfaced. Ask how and when orders are received into the back end software and put to the test such touch points as special pricing, promotions, over ordering, picking, packing, despatch confirmation, reporting and even stock replenishment routines. Are the systems in alignment and meeting the business requirements?

This is where omni-channel or lining up all your business solutions is so critical. Disparate systems may lead to disparate results. Omni-channel speaks to aligning these with integration down to the transaction and general ledger levels. Simply put, orders entered either at POS or on the web can be treated within the same structure of the larger IT solution that best defines the business not the other way around. The goal in discovering the best of breed offering should be the one where needs and touch points are commensurate. Either an ecommerce solution that is tried and tested or an inherent integrated offering by the same vendor will potentially save countless hours in processing time, updating stock prices, promotions, returns, warranty tracking, marketing campaigns, feedback and the list goes on.

Whatever you do avoid technology finger pointing, this is where a ‘ONE STOP SHOP’ might make more sense.

Comments or experiences in this area, please share?

Pronto Xi offers Avenue, a web/ecommerce solution that supports an omni-channel ecosystem.

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.

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