Retail technology has been evolving at an ever-faster pace in the recent years. Omni-channel shopping platforms, Augmented Reality (AR), Mobile Apps, Voice Commands, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are just some of the technologies that have been recently adopted by retailers across the industry.
In order to keep up with the evolving technology landscape and consumer expectations, one needs to choose wisely when picking the next retail technology investment. For best long-term results and to avoid wasting valuable resources, a roadmap is needed.
Reasons for a retail technology roadmap
On average, 30% of retail technology projects fail to go live. These projects are planned, initiated and then cancelled for a number of reasons including:
#1 Project costs and benefits are not properly assessed during the planning phase of the project, and once known, the ROI is determined to be insufficient.
#2 Lack of communication between departments leads to conflicting reactions to the project once a prototype is created, with internal resistance blocking deployment.
#3 No set budget is assigned to a project, with it being cancelled when the cost is deemed too high.
#4 The project’s budget gets re-assigned to another, unplanned initiative with a higher priority.
In addition to preventing the waste of an organization’s time and money on technology projects that never see the light of day, a technology roadmap will ensure that an organization is aware of the latest advancements and what will be possible a few years down the line. Keeping track of what retail technologies will soon become available, being aware of all their potential applications and having a technology strategy, can grant a retailer a significant competitive advantage.
What makes a good technology roadmap?
For a retail technology roadmap to be effective, it should have the following characteristics:
#1 Comprehensive: the roadmap needs to include all current and potential initiatives that meet a specific requirement with cost and time estimates from all business units. Any additional initiatives that are not included in the roadmap and do not involve ensuring company compliance to new regulations, will have to wait until the next roadmap update.
#2 Properly Sequenced: all initiatives should be analyzed to determine cost, benefit and priority level.
#3 Measurable: all elements of each initiative need to be measurable, with estimates used to determine the proper sequence.
#4 Resource Allocated: resource estimates by role should be planned month to month for each initiative. If resource gaps are found, an assessment should be made to determine whether to fill the gap internally or externally.
#5 Time Phased: each initiative should be broken down into phases such as discovery, build, integration, testing, pilot and deployment. Each phase needs to have a duration to ensure the most accurate time frame estimate for each initiative. The overall duration of the roadmap should not exceed 3 years, as any planning beyond that is generally too inaccurate.
#6 Descriptive: all initiatives need to have a clear scope so that all stakeholders know what to expect.
#7 Manageable: initiative owners and key stakeholders need to be identified, engaged and held responsible for the management of the specific initiative.
#8 Realistic: it is important for the roadmap to be achievable, with realistic time frames and costs associated with each initiative.
Developing a retail technology roadmap takes effort, time, planning and multiple reviews and approvals. However, once the roadmap is in place, it will help the organization reach its strategic goals by saving valuable resources, preventing failed projects and ensuring a competitive edge.
Technology is going to keep advancing, and consumers are going to keep changing. If you would like to know more about the latest retail technologies and how they can be applied to increase your revenue and lower your costs, please contact us for a free consultation.