As software selection advisors, my team has talked to thousands of retailers considering a major new retail management system purchase. The vast majority are replacing an existing system – one they’ve used for years. Why? Why replace what’s familiar? Why pay up for something entirely new when an upgrade is – on paper – less expensive? Why move away from a long-term vendor relationship?
There are plenty of reasons. Here are the top five responses we hear when we ask, “What’s driving you to replace your existing system?”
1. Improve usability and adoption. For many businesses, the system that best matched their functional requirements turned out to be too difficult to use. In an environment where employee turnover is high, poor usability can make it very difficult to get new employees up-to-speed. By far the biggest challenge we hear from buyers is that their existing system is non-intuitive; they are looking for a new system and their primary requirement is ease-of-use.
2. New store growth. It’s a big leap to go from managing one store to managing two, five ten, one hundred or more… This challenge is especially difficult if a retailer plans to manage their inventory and accounting for multiple stores in one single POS software or inventory management system. Often the simple, single-store system that was easy to get going is grossly insufficient for rapid new store growth.
3. Poor tech support. Frequently, buyers come to us when they’ve gotten too frustrated with the poor support they are getting from their existing vendor. Either the vendor was a “one-man shop” that couldn’t keep up, or the vendor “lost its personal touch” as it grew too big, too fast. This impetus for change is even more powerful when poor service is combined with increases in support fees.
4. Integrating multiple channels. Many retailers are moving to support multiple channels – retail stores, e-commerce websites, mail-order catalogs… As they roll out new channels they often implement separate, redundant software systems – one for each channel. We talk to a lot of buyers that are now looking for a new, all-in-one system for multi-channel retailing.
5. Hardware failure. Many retailers have been on the same system for a decade or more. They may have remained patient with an old, DOS-based system, but their hardware eventually gave out. An upgrade to new hardware presents a logical opportunity to bring their software up to current standards as well. Much of the time, they can’t even install a dated system on new hardware and are forced to move to new-generation software.
We’ve heard many other reasons for replacing existing systems, but these are the most common. They also present a good lesson for new retail organizations that want to invest ahead of rapid growth. Consider these challenges and invest in a retail management system that will support your expansion plans.
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