Today or tomorrow: Retail tech purchase decisions

Omnichannel Commerce

The holiday season can be a trying period for many merchants. Retailers want to be operating at maximum capacity to ensure they can engage customers effectively and smoothly, and a lot of that hinges on the implementation of the latest eCommerce software and solutions. For many retailers, these technology purchase decisions are made well in advance of the annual holiday tech freeze, the point at which retailers decide to cease investments and upgrades in technology to avoid any downtime.

These investments need to be well-planned out for retailers to determine what will be the best fit for today and for the future.

The combination of the need to implement all the tools that will help retailers serve customers and the looming freeze deadline can result in some poor decision-making on the behalves of many merchants. They may make hasty tech purchases they regret because of scalability or flexibility issues in the future. On the other hand, they may wind up purchasing solutions that are way more comprehensive (and thus costly) for their needs. There are also a number of possibilities in between both ends of that spectrum.

While leveraging the latest tools and technology can indeed be a significant benefit to merchants, purchasing decisions are not something that should be rushed through. These investments need to be well-planned out for retailers to determine what will be the best fit for today and for the future. Buying eCommerce platforms is not something merchants do to improve operations for the holidays the next month, it is an investment they should make with the next six months, year or even decade in mind.

Making better technology purchase decisions

Many merchants across all sorts of different retail categories are increasing expenditures on technology. This has been a trend that became noticeable in 2012, when a study from Internet Retailer found that nearly three in four online retailers said they planned on spending money on technology that year. ECommerce platforms are popular investments because they allow merchants to gain the capabilities they need without building their own solutions.

At the same time, it is pivotal that merchants are measured and intelligent in regard to how they want to make these investments. They must identify their own needs, the best solutions to purchase, the best times to make these investments, find solutions that are compatible with current systems and the best vendors for the solutions they desire.

If merchants struggle with real-time inventory visibility this holiday season, they know they will need a better inventory management system.

While the 2014 holiday season is imminent and it is likely too late for merchants to make any big technology purchases this year, peak periods do play pivotal roles in purchase decisions as they can help expose holes and gaps in a retailer’s current capabilities and tech stacks. If merchants struggle with real-time inventory visibility, they know they will need a better inventory management system. If order processing is slow, their order fulfillment may need another look. This will give merchants a better idea of where to start their technology purchase journeys.

After the holidays, merchants should begin looking in earnest for solutions that will help them fill any gaps exposed during the peak season. They should research to narrow down the search, then engage potential vendors to find the best solutions that will fit their needs and plug any holes in their current systems.

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