by Rob Bryer/SVP of product management, Balance Innovations
To say the supermarket industry is competitive is an understatement, of course, and every retailer is constantly looking for ways to stay ahead of the pack, often turning to technology to make processes more efficient or improve customer experience. But sometimes, your company’s best-laid technology plans can hamper productivity more than they help.
1. When technology solves one problem but creates another
New technologies come along every day that can improve the way your stores operate. When devices or systems are standalone and disconnected, however, implementing them might have unintended consequences. For example, a self-checkout unit saves labor on the front end by decreasing the number of cashiers. But, at the end of the day, the money within the self-checkouts will need to be counted and then placed back inside of the device, which creates additional labor in the cash office.
2. When data is siloed and on premise
Data, data everywhere—but not a drop to “drink.” The age-old saying about water is just as applicable to data, one of today’s most valuable supermarket assets. Everybody’s gathering it, but if you can’t consume it, what’s the point?
In particular, letting data collect and sit on store-level PCs is a dangerous game. Many grocers rely on on-premise PCs to store precious data, which demands that the IT team carefully manage those PCs and their backups and remain ready to swoop in with a replacement or backup data when it inevitably fails. Instead, get it in the cloud where backups are easy and you can make the data better work for you.
3. When your infrastructure is too complex
Many supermarkets have homegrown or legacy systems that delay or prevent other projects that will advance the business. The inability to insulate the POS system, for instance, from the rest of the infrastructure means that integrating its data with systems you want to add creates a lengthy, complex project that dominates your IT team’s schedule. Adding or changing systems often means rewriting code and creating new business logic, slowing down the project at hand and moving others to the back burner. Look for simpler ways to integrate systems using APIs and IoT technology so that your systems can work together without being so dependent on one another.
Competing against threats online and down the street means that supermarkets need to use technology as optimally as possible. Taking the time to consider the way technologies new and old work together will put you on the right track to stay ahead.
Rob Bryer is the SVP of product management for Balance Innovations and has 25 years of experience in the retail industry and cash management. You can find him on LinkedIn or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.