George Shaw, Head of R&D at Retail Next, hosted an Exhibitor Big Ideas Session at Shop.org 2014 where he spoke about the importance of having a strategy in place to integrate new technology into your store/brand. This post focused on that topic, which can be found here. During the second part of his presentation, he focused on the practical considerations to think about when searching for a partner to help you with your specific needs. He highlighted the following four areas of importance, all of which will affect the overall shopping experience for the end user:
• Technical: The first step is to determine your specific technology needs. Walking around in any exhibit hall at a conference can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are new to the tech space or are unaware of what you are trying to accomplish. By hosting an internal dialogue between all departments, everyone’s stakes are on the table and it begins to define what you need to succeed. The initial collaboration session will help to alleviate any confusion. Make sure to invite your IT and development team to ensure that all technology specs are known.
• Trust: If you are using a tech partner for a “mission critical component,” it has to be someone that you are able to trust. Make sure to ask them how they would respond to certain scenarios and also for recommendations/testimonials from current customers. As I am personally working with vendors, I think of them less as vendors and more of partners for success. If a problem were to occur, are they available 24/7 to help answer your answers? By making sure that you trust your partners, it sets you up for success from the beginning.
• Cost: For every company, cost is always going to be a concern. Upon researching the partner you are looking to use, make sure to discuss costs to understand both implementation and use costs. Do not forget to ask what benefits come with this package. For me personally, I receive immense value from my partners as they learn my strategic goals and work with me to help meet them. This alone is invaluable as often times they present new insights or angles to problems that will continue to grow both the brand and company value.
• Privacy: With the knowledge of data collection becoming more apparent in the media over the past three years, more than ever consumers have been concerned about how their data is being used and protected. As Shaw said, people view their data as currency and will give it to the brand if they are receiving a valuable item in return, such as features, functionality, offers, etc. Furthermore the landscape is changing rapidly, both from a best practice and legal viewpoint. It is crucial to make sure that your partner is able to speak to these in a way that provide your brand with the maximum knowledge needed to make informed decisions about marketing campaigns.