Sean Quinn, CEO of All Point Retail, muses on the many benefits of taking your IT off your shoulders and giving it to outsourced experts“As a Service'' has become one of the most common (and valuable) software models in business today. However, when it comes to retail technology, it’s typically associated with software elements of the store and cross channel commerce functions that live in the cloud. However, the idea of offering a coveted set of skills as a physical, tangible service makes killer sense. And considering how complex the ever-changing requirements have become to get a ‘unified commerce’ retail brand up, running and cranking out revenue, it’s perplexing that more firms aren’t thinking along these lines.
All Point Retail, with our Managed Retail Commerce service, hits this issue right between the eyes.
“All too often, I see retail leaders make one of two mistakes when they purchase retail technology to drive their bottom line,” Sean Quinn, All Point’s CEO shared recently at The Lead Innovation Conference in Brooklyn, NY. “First, they buy the shiny new ‘Ferrari’ they saw at a show, and, after a while, it ends up sitting in the garage. Why? Because they didn’t do their due diligence and purchased the wrong vehicle for the road they needed to navigate…or, they had no idea how to drive it to make it perform optimally. The second mistake is inspired by too many Fast and Furious movies. In an attempt to keep up with the newest retail tech, they try to juice up their old ‘beater’ systems with some nitrous oxide and take it for a spin on the Autobahn. Neither Works!”
All the best tech widgets in the world are useless if you can’t make them work together to support your operational goal.
Would you buy a Ferrari and leave it in the garage? Of course not. You need to put gas in it. You need to get it out and USE it. But you also need to know how to drive it or hire the best driver possible if you want it to reach its full potential.
Retail IT is the same way. Yes, you want to make the best IT investments you can–but you have to be able to connect and integrate it all or it won’t work the way you want it to.
This is where outsourcing your retail technology comes into play. There’s a ton of upside, but three in particular make it just plain smart.
1. When you outsource your IT, you get the best team the industry has to offer
Small-to-medium size business owners have to do a lot with the staff that they have, and brilliant and reliable IT talent is in short supply. You typically have an internal person that’s responsible for all of, and in most cases, they’re great at some things and struggle with others. Unfortunately, this person wastes the majority of their time playing whack-a-mole with store level issues, never getting time to focus on the important stuff.
When you outsource this function, you get an entire team that checks the boxes on every skill set you could possibly need. You’re not an IT company, you’re a retailer…so this frees you and your internal IT people to manage versus solve. No more finding and keeping the right team of experts–you have a much larger team supporting for a fraction of the cost and get the benefit of cross vertical expertise–which makes it a lot easier to make the right decisions when new business requirements show up for you.
2. You’re Going to Save Money
The most common approach to retail technology is the ‘buy and build’ one. In this case, you have a tech team spending tons of time and effort scanning what’s out there, vetting out product pitches, designing a plan, building, installing and managing the solutions and carrying the burden of risk and ‘sunken costs’ for stuff that may not work out as expected. Everyone gets stuck with the outcome.
If this approach moves to the “As a Service” one, most of this goes away.
First off, Managed Retail Commerce companies like All Point aren’t married to any solution providers (hardware or software) and work across most of the usual suspects. Because of this, we have hands-on experience with them and know the difference between what they pitch and what they can actually deliver. We also know what their solutions integrate well with and, because we have a team of developers, have already had to customize what they fall short on.
Another key point is cost. The outsourcing model is a fixed monthly expense for a limited amount of time. You’ll be able to know what your retail tech spend will be and measure and evaluate it accordingly. No risk of surprise costs or unexpected CapEx request because something didn’t work or needs enhancements to function right. It’s just smarter expense management that ties directly to your ROI.
3. You Can Crush Your Competition
The reality is that the larger retailers don’t have the advantage anymore. The smaller guys are the game changers. They’re smarter, nimbler and, from our experience, have the guts to move quickly to get that edge over the big guys. They are sparking the Retail Renaissance, as fearless as David when squaring off to nail Goliath between the eyes.
The retail giants are burdened. They’re hamstrung by huge teams with conflicting KPIs, internal politics, an ever-present need to pander to Wall Street and short-term profits (versus customers), staff shortages, sloth-like timing on key decisions and–most importantly–the crushing weight of legacy infrastructure.
Tier 2, smaller retailers like you have a huge edge. You’re free to envision new ways to stand apart from the behemoths to get that irrational customer loyalty everyone is going for. The As a Service retail technology model is ideal to get you there faster. The backbone of “Elastic Commerce”, it is lightweight, flexible and offers an integrated platform with mobile options critical to help you take action and meet your customers on whichever commerce channel you want to engage with them on. It’s your advantage.
Rethink Your Retail IT to a Managed Service Mentality
You need to remember that your retail tech is not about what goes into it…it’s what comes out of it. You don’t buy a drill for the drill; you buy a drill because you want the hole! You need to hire for the end result and the team behind it is everything.
Think about it–no one in their right mind would buy a Ferrari, try to figure out how to operate it and take off for a run around the Daytona track without an instructor. Outsourcing your IT gives you the resources you need to put your investments through the paces and come out ahead. The best part? It’s affordable. This model is available for a simple monthly per-store cost. Think of it as the perfect vehicle for your business showing up with the most badass drivers available, but without the crazy cost of ownership.