Your IT Backyard determines your power to execute

Those who love gardening will agree: all you need to do is walk into your garden and you almost automatically start pruning, trimming or mowing the lawn. That probably says a lot about your character, but it certainly means that you like to keep things neat and orderly. The state of someone else’s backyard is quite noticeable by comparison. When taking a peek in the IT gardens of retailers, we often encounter an overgrown, tangled up scene – a figurative spaghetti junction. As CIO, it’s a great starting point to undertake the long-term process of transformation, but not to make the difference today as a retailer.

These days we’re living in a multichannel, multi-touchpoint, always-on, ultra-competitive market. The explosion of potential customer interaction points – new channels, new devices, new applications, new services, etc. – means that providing a consistent ‘experience’ across all channels is becoming increasingly important. In fact, various studies reveal that a consistent brand experience is linked to more loyalty, and therefore more revenue.

Creating a consistent brand experience is, technically speaking, easier said than done. Certainly in a time when the IT landscape is divided across different applications, connected to each other like a spaghetti junction. This makes bringing order to chaos quite a challenge. Not to mention the costs of implementing overarching adjustments whereby you have to depend on several external suppliers, but also internally on different departments with different interests.

At Kega we focus on the store staff. After all, they are often the key between a sale and a lost sale, or that definitive brand experience. It is therefore no real surprise that a number of our solutions and services focus on so-called Employee Engagement and Employee Empowerment. An example of this is Kega’s InTouch app, the professional’s answer to WhatsApp and Messenger groups that allows the head office to stay in control. How often do you think it occurs that an employee is still a member of the company Whatsapp group while he or she has left the company long ago and is working elsewhere?

Employee InTouch App
The employees are actually very special in that sense, especially when we zoom in further on the IT side of things. Employee information is often spread across multiple systems – each with its own history. Plus, the personnel are kind of in a difficult corner. Different things are expected of the staff from every department of the retail organisation. Just try to imagine the different expectations from Marketing, HRM, operations or even the board of directors. It all seems to funnel down and come together at that one employee. So, what better place to start the transformation than right here!

The transformation starts here
But it all begins by asking the right questions. One of our favourite questions we always ask is: “Are you familiar with the fans of your brand?” it is this question that often marks the beginning of a very informative talk with a host of underlying questions, such as:

  • Does your business meet the changed privacy legislation on storage?
  • Where is the customer data stored? (Physically, but also in what applications).
  • What is known about the customer?
  • What is the item information (data) journey?
  • Where is my personnel information stored?
  • Is there a security policy?

These are just a few examples of questions you can ask yourself as a retailer when you start involving your staff in the customer journey.

The Omnichannel Manager, the Chief Employee Officer, the Happy Customer Officer; they’re all spending more time answering these questions. These newly created roles in the changed retail landscape are popping up like mushrooms, each searching for an overarching vision on Omnichannel Retailing and, increasingly, on the customer and the staff. Because when you’re in the centre of this force field, you’re always trying to offer added value to the journey with the aim of creating extra business value. That’s how you can take retail further.

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