The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Retail Communication Software
As a business owner, you have a million things to deal with. Keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to daily operations, promotions, and other aspects of business can be a real challenge. As your business evolves and grows, it becomes even more difficult to keep up with internal and external communications while still maintaining value-driven relationships with each of your customers.
This is when retail store owners implement retail communication software that helps keep everything running smoothly and efficiently. The more your team is able to effectively communicate with one another and work together to deliver the best customer experience possible, the more your business will stand out from the competition and gain new customers.
About Retail Communication Software
When you break it down to the basics, retail communication software that streamlines communication between your internal and external teams, so everyone is on the same page. It increases productivity and efficiency, and cuts down on discrepancies and communication issues.
Most of them offer real-time data that shows how your different programs and promotions are being implemented throughout your stores and warehouses. This helps give more insight into how the latest trends in your industry are doing in relation to the programs you are executing, showing each department what they need to do to meet goals and milestones.
Choosing Retail Communication Software
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of great retail communication software vendors out there. So, how do you know which one would work the best with your team, your company, and your needs?
When narrowing down your list of vendors, go through the following checklist. This list addresses key questions related to the main categories that should be addressed before purchasing retail communication software.
The following list will help ensure you walk away with a solid purchase that will implement smoothly within your organization, so things can start running as efficiently as possible in practically no time at all.
It is important to ask the vendor what type of retail communication software they have available for your budget and project management scope. They should be able to provide a reasonably accurate estimate of cost and time required from data gathering to implementation to launch, as well as any monthly or annual costs. It’s always a good idea to ask:
- Does the vendor take into account your resources, data, organization structure, etc. when creating the price estimate?
- Throughout the implementation process, are there resources available? Is this factored into your estimate?
- Will there be anything else not covered within the initial estimate? (Ex: If you have to add on another warehouse, or another team, will the cost increase? What if you expand globally?)
It’s important to get a complete overview of the different aspects that make up the implementation process for the retail communication software. Ask about:
- Does the vendor have a business analyst team that will match your requirements with the right software package, making sure all of your needs are met?
- Is there structured data conversion, so moving all of your information to the new system can be done easily and without the risk of data loss?
- How easy is it to integrate this new system with other software you use within your organization? How long will it take to do this?
- How is testing conducted and validated in order to make sure the software runs exactly as the vendors claim it does?
- How difficult is it to train your employees to use this new system?
- Will you need any other resources onsite when the new software goes live? Will the vendor offer support if something goes wrong during this pivotal moment?
- What is the implementation strategy the vendor suggests? Depending on the software and your organization, is it best to get things rolling in phases or just do it all at once?
- Typically, how long does the implementation process take to complete? Does the vendor have a proven track record of being able to meet pre-determined milestones and agreed upon time-frames?
- How difficult is it to measure the success of the software? Are the analytics easy to use and understand?
Technology doesn’t always work perfectly. But, there are still some things that can be done to cut down on interruptions or reduce the amount of problems that occur.
- What measures does the vendor take to keep technical difficulties to a minimum?
- When problems do occur, does the vendor offer support? How quickly is this support offered?
- Does the data remain secure? What steps does the vendor take to ensure data security?
Conduct a team evaluation to pick out the best group for this project. This will tell you whether or not you need to hire additional staff members, or create a new department focused primarily on this new software and its implementation.
- How many people are needed for this software to run efficiently?
- What type of skillsets are required to run this software and its programs?
- Will additional training be necessary?
Return on Investment (ROI)
It’s important to determine whether or not this software will be worth the investment. Is this something your team truly needs, or would communication training work better? Find out:
- What is the general amount of time before the benefits of using this software are evident?
- The sooner you see benefits, the better. Does the amount of time, and the benefits themselves, outweigh the cost of the software?
It’s not enough to just focus on the retail communication software itself, as the vendor who manufactures and sells it needs to be closely examined as well.
The software can certainly sound great on paper, but if there is no evidence to support the vendor’s claims, you could end up losing money and opportunities. Look for the following:
- Does your vendor have a positive track record of success, complete with testimonials from previous clients? Are there white papers available?
- Does this vendor know your industry, or do they offer a one-size-fits-all type of software?
- How big is the vendor on communication? Will they be willing to frequently meet with your core team to keep you updated on software developments, as well as to check in with your progress and ease of use?
Retail communication software is one industry that is continuously evolving, bringing seamless communication to various organizations across the globe. Communication is possible throughout all departments and locations with this software, rather than just being limited to internal departments.
However, with the numerous vendors and various types of communication software available, it can be hard to find the right one for you, your brand, your customers, and your staff. Narrowing down the list to find the best software for your needs - with an experienced, flexible, and trusted vendor - can be difficult.
Following this guide will help take away the stress of finding the right retail communication software for your organization.
Do you have any additional tips to add to this guide? What else would you look for? Let me know in the comments!