Preparing your Retail Technology for the Post-COVID19 Ramp up
By Tom Schoen, CEO
No one knows for certain when retailers will begin re-opening stores or when consumers will feel confident restarting normal purchasing habits; the peaks and recoveries of the COVID-19 pandemic, job losses, and many other factors will determine that timeline. As Mike Rittler of TD Bank told Retail Customer Experience,
“…when we are back up and running at physical locations, it will be critically important to reengage people. This re-engagement plan will help the best retailers recover more quickly and rebuild their loyal customer base.”
The two most important goals will be, first and foremost, reopening the store(s); followed closely by getting shoppers into the store (or purchasing more online). But before the re-opening and the spending, there needs to be a reckoning. Is your Oracle Retail technology or NetSuite retail technology prepared for a ramp up? Can the systems handle the barrage of marketing campaigns and loyalty promotions that will be needed to draw consumers back to retail?
Is your Oracle or NetSuite Retail Technology Ready?
The retail ramp up won’t happen overnight, but you can start preparing now by taking a hard look at whether the technology infrastructure can support the effort. Gartner’s Kelsie Marian explained it further in this article at Retail Dive,
“Retailers can minimize current and future business impacts by identifying and executing on controllable activities. In the short term, they must identify and optimize existing technologies and business models. In the longer term, the focus should be on evolving business models and enabling transformational change with new and emerging technology.”
Think about how robust and flexible your online and store systems are, and whether they can handle what’s coming…
- Systems will need to be re-synced
- Data will need to be re-populated and updated
- Systems will need to prepare for significant marketing efforts; for example, if a large amount of merchandise goes on sale, can the retail systems manage that efficiently or will the stores rely on manual data entry?
Partnering with an Oracle Retail System Integrator or NetSuite Partner will ensure your systems are ready and optimized to flexibly manage the challenges and opportunities that come with the ramp up. If you didn’t have a robust retail technology infrastructure before the COVID-19 crisis, it’s doubly important to shore up your systems now and work with a proactive partner to help guide the process and ensure overall business objectives are met.
Good retail IT people were hard to find before COVID-19 hit, and their skills will be in even higher demand when the recovery begins. If a retailer’s IT team has been laid off or if the company has trouble filling in the gaps, a system integrator or technology partner can augment the team to get operations back up and running faster.
Although the ramp-up period will be a different timeframe and speed for everyone, get your partners lined up and in place now. Formulate your plan, identify the resources you have, secure your partners so you can start executing the minute you decide it’s best.
Start Planning Now
For many retailers, this crisis has been a perfect storm of stress on people and IT systems. What we know for sure is that this ramp up time is not going to be like a Labor Day sale or even the holiday season. It will be remembered as an extraordinary time in the industry that required a herculean effort just to operationalize stores and manage the strategies for drawing consumers back.
Leveraging a system integrator or partner to strategize about effective recovery plans will help a company ramp up quickly. Use this time to get a plan and a partner in place; focus efforts on operations and what it takes to get stores open and operating; and ensure technology infrastructure is optimized to manage the marketing efforts to get consumers active again.