Digital transformation for retailers

Back to news

Top tips for a seamless technology deployment

Running a project to innovate your in-store technology is both exciting and stressful. Often success hinges on how well those final stages go, and as the saying goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. This is just as true when it comes to preparing for your next technology rollout.

Working with leading retailers to introduce new technology that transforms in-store operations, we know a thing or two about what can be done to maximise the chance of a smooth implementation and the role of the retailer in making this a reality.

Sharing our first-hand experience, here are our top tips to help retail businesses support a seamless technology rollout:

1. Establish clear communication channels

First on the list, is clear and effective communication. Without it, your deployment will be chaotic. Before you jump into planning the logistics of your deployment, prioritise the setting of clear expectations for communication between your project team, internal team, and technology partners.

To build a solid plan for your communication, consider:

  • Roles and responsibilities
    Defining individual roles and responsibilities supports good communication. Knowing up front who the key points of contact are supports faster decision-making and form a clear escalation process that will prevent your project from being held back and keep you on track.
  • Communication channels and frequency
    Think about what channels are available to you and which will be most effective for supporting communication. Perhaps a weekly Teams meeting is the perfect way to update your wider stakeholders, but you need a dedicated group chat for those entrenched in the day-to-day, or maybe email is the preferred communication format in your business. Based on the type of update you have to share, agree on how often and to who to better manage expectations and ensure stakeholders are satisfied.
  • Internal team communication
    Don’t overlook how important it is to communicate with your in-store and internal teams too. Involving them in the progress will help keep the team enthused and excite them about what is to come. They will also be more likely to adapt positively to the changes coming if they have been kept informed and understand what to expect, when and why.

2. Plan an efficient deployment route

When it comes to effectively planning your deployment logistics, there are several things to carefully consider which can impact the cost to your business and the timescale of your deployment.

  • Route Efficiency
    Working with your implementation partner to establish an efficient route will maximise the number of stores an engineer can visit in a day, reducing the time taken to complete your deployment and therefore minimising cost by reducing the number of support days needed.
  • Access Times
    Depending on the location of your stores, store operations, or opening times, there may be a schedule or times of access that you require engineers to work around.
  • Store Implementation Order
    Is there a particular order that you want your new kit installed? Perhaps you have flagship stores that you want to roll out to first. This won’t create the most efficient rollout plan, however, so you do need to consider the impact on time and cost if you choose to take this approach.
  • Size of Store
    Not all your stores will be the same size and you could have a greater number of devices and units to install in some. This means that the installation will take longer for those stores and that fewer stores will be visited on those days.
  • Business Activity
    You will also want to consider what else is going on within your business at the time that might affect your deployment plans. For example, company meetings that require significant resources from within your business or holidays of key people can have a significant knock-on effect.

3. Be realistic – not everything is within your control

No matter how robust the plan is or how experienced your implementation partner is, always expect the unexpected. Not every eventuality can be predicted, from delays at customs to supply chain issues, there will always be elements of your implementation plan that are outside of your control.

Even with the most thorough processes and procedures in place, the speed of your deployment could be affected. The key is to be realistic about this and factor in a contingency – both time and budget – so that should anything unforeseen happen, you can navigate it with ease.

4. Build a thorough training plan for store colleagues

Successful in-store adoption hinges on colleagues being properly trained. To empower them to make the best use of your new kit, what resources will be needed?

From user guides to how-to videos and even in-store training sessions, you need to make sure that the right tools to support store colleagues are readily available. This is particularly important to support future training needs as new team members are recruited.

Also, consider who is responsible for conducting the training and producing the required resources. Is this an additional service you require from your technology partner, or will you appoint champions from within your team who will train the wider business? Additionally, at what point will the training be carried out?

5. Encourage post-deployment feedback

With a focus on getting the job done, it’s easy to overlook your post-deployment plan. Don’t just launch and leave your solution, instead think about how you can best support the acceptance of tech in your stores. Continue to work closely with your technology provider who’ll then be on hand to resolve barriers preventing your solution from running effectively.

It’s normal to experience a few teething issues as your business gets to grips with new technology but dealing with these quickly will prevent frustration from building among store colleagues. Establishing an open feedback loop to understand how your store colleagues are getting on with the new solution is a great way to achieve this. Keeping lines of communication open with your in-store teams means you’re quickly able to identify training gaps and put in place a plan to close them.

It’s vital to involve your team and there are lots of benefits to be gained from listening to their feedback. If you don’t work with your teams to support the adoption, you risk user dissatisfaction which could have been avoided. Encourage questions and comments, ideas that could spark improvements to get even more from your investment, and most importantly, make sure your response to feedback is visible.

By following these expert tips, your business will be well-prepared to support a smooth deployment and maximise the return on your technology investment sooner. If you want to learn more about how we’ve helped retailers like you deploy new solutions that transformed their retail operations, get in touch with our expert team.