Omnichannel retail is finally beginning to take hold. SPS Commerce recently found that 35 percent of retailers feel their omnichannel plans are coming together.
Leading brands are deploying new retail IT and equipment that enables capabilities such as: buying online and either picking up in-store or shipping from store; seamless returns regardless of purchase point; digital displays or signage; and the endless aisle.
These initiatives are tying the digital and physical worlds together.
Behind the scenes, this requires a sizeable investment in retail IT. New systems and equipment need to be procured, tested and deployed before you can design and build a great customer experience.
But once in place, these new technologies open up a realm of new possibilities and can fundamentally change the way retailers and customers interact...until they don’t work.
When your technology doesn’t work, you’ve lost your only chance to make a great impression. You’ve let customers down, and have failed to deliver on your promise of providing a great experience.
All the time, money and energy that went into new retail IT means nothing, and it only takes one hardware or software failure to leave customers disappointed, frustrated and possibly on the road to another store.
Keep the Retail IT Lights on With Preventive Maintenance
Technology issues often stem from a lack of preventive maintenance, leaving retailers vulnerable and at risk of disappointing customers who expect technology to work every time.
Once new equipment is deployed, the focus needs to shift to minimizing downtime and the impact it has on the customer experience. Rather than only reacting to problems, retailers need to start taking a proactive approach to maintenance, preventing issues before they occur.
The first step to keeping the lights on is to develop a tailored preventive maintenance schedule that can be applied and used with each physical store.
This schedule will set the standard of maintenance that needs to be done on a regular basis, and makes it easy to identify and prevent potential problems. Not only will this keep systems up and running, it will also extend the life of equipment, helping you maximize your investment.
Of course, equipment will occasionally fail no matter how much preventive maintenance you conduct. When an issue does occur, you need to minimize the downtime and impact on customers.
Modern equipment, enabled by the Internet of Things, can send reports back to the IT support team alerting them to the problem. They can then diagnose the issue and get the right parts or replacement equipment before arriving at the store. This dramatically reduces the time and cost required to repair, refurbish or replace a piece of technology.
Reduce the Burden on Your IT Department
Oftentimes, retailers lack the resources and expertise to conduct this preventive maintenance in-house.
Small IT teams are not designed to manage a huge network of stores or follow a strict preventive maintenance schedule. As a result, they are often stuck being reactive rather than proactive.
But as omnichannel increases the complexity of the retail IT environment and introduces more technology to stores, this reactive approach will lead to more failures and more disappointed customers.
One way to overcome these challenges is to partner with a retail IT service provider who can provide maintenance and repair services across the entire store network.
These companies have the scale needed to keep a wide variety of parts in inventory, and have certified technicians located near the stores to minimize the time and costs associated with a support request.
By taking advantages of a partner’s capabilities, you can focus more resources on your core competencies and reduce the burden on the IT department and help desk.
Take a Proactive, not Reactive, Approach to Retail IT Maintenance
In today’s world, customers simply expect technology to work each and every time they interact with it.
Any issues or failures will lead to frustration and disappointment, damaging your brand’s reputation and driving customers away.
A preventive maintenance strategy addresses problems before they occur, minimizes the impact of downtime on the customer when issues do arise, and extends the useful life of your equipment. After making such a large and strategic investment in the retail IT required for omnichannel, you need to do everything possible to keep these systems up and running.
Omnichannel is exciting, and it’s opening up a whole new world of possibilities for retailers to build a fantastic customer experience. But it has to work, especially when your customer needs it most.
Preventive maintenance may not feel very futuristic, but it is essential to keep your retail operations running smoothly and customers delighted. Download our Store of the Future white paper to learn how to get your operations ready for what’s next. Please leave a comment about best practices you’ve seen in use, or ask a question.