IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 4 Jan 2011

New Year: Time for change?


So unless you’ve been in hiding for the past couple of years, you may have noticed that the retail industry as a whole has been forced to adapt in order to tempt people to part with their hard-earned cash. Merchandising now takes place on a continuous basis in order to keep the offer fresh and relevant, so why are companies IT strategies becoming dated?

The simple answer, the one that your IT department will inevitably give you if you start asking them awkward questions, is that technological developments do not take place instantly. There is some truth in this – by the time whatever development your little heart desires is complete, the need within the business will have either completely altered, or changed to incorporate more complex requirements.

Assuming your company is managed according to a 5-year plan, the budget and scope for these developments would also already be fixed. Putting myself in the role of a retail IT Director, not an easy job these days, one solution for this when drawing up the plan would be to turn to technology visionaries and follow their predictions. However these ‘experts’ can never be 100% accurate so I’d also make my own assumptions by looking at whichever group of people will become my target market in 5 years’ time.

Let’s say my business is a fashion retailer catering for women in their 20s – I’d turn to today’s 15 year olds and make judgements based upon the technologies they use. I’d expand my company’s social media presence, and not only to please the marketing department; I’d take it for granted that teenagers communicate via Facebook and Twitter so I’d know that to gain their business, the company needs to as well.

I’d also set to work at developing an m-commerce site as people now expect to be able to make online purchases via their smartphones. This is not about being seen to be on top of the latest trend / fad – as I see it, with future customers walking round with purchasing power in their pockets or handbags, I’d be an idiot not to take advantage of that opportunity.

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