What bad habits do retail solution providers need to break?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Spieckerman Retail blog.
Business is booming for companies that provide data, merchandising, tech and other support because retailers no longer believe they can, or even should, develop every capability in-house. Both big enterprise solution providers and niche players are benefitting from this mind shift, however, retailers tell me that some are at risk of blowing it by reinforcing a few bad habits:
Attempting to run before learning to crawl – When salespeople begin lobbying new decision-makers when the ink is barely dry on the beta, relationships can hit the skids. Build a solid case study before branching out.
Committing a scale fail – It’s hard for smaller providers to turn business down, especially when demand exceeds their wildest dreams. Retailers want to see that you will pivot your model to meet their scale.
Abusing access privileges – “Who are these people?” — four words that you don’t want a retailer to utter. If your teams are roaming the halls at retailer HQ and popping heads in doors, you’re setting yourself up for the Big Revoke.
Going long – Retailers tell me that they will increasingly favor shorter-term, high-impact projects over long-term contracts. Craft bite-sized solutions that achieve specific outcomes.
Pushing professional services – Solution providers often see consulting as a next-stage growth opportunity but retailers are more receptive when the benefits are clearly quantified from the start. How does your team’s expertise drive additional value for your solutions?
Forgetting your place – Condescension to lower-ranking retail employees, and miscalculations as to who “matters” in the first place, are fatal mistakes.
Providing sketchy value – Retailers expect your solutions to provide a clearly-defined competitive leap. Solutions-in-search-of-a-problem and those created under false assumptions are still far too common.
Ignoring the future – With so much happening in retail, it’s easy to get lost in the present, yet retailers are relying on industry experts to help them see ahead of the curve. Create a clear product roadmap, including which emerging innovations (artificial intelligence/machine learning, for example) are on your horizon.
Retailers are seeking advantages outside their borders. Don’t let easy-to-avoid mistakes bungle your opportunities to go big and branch out.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What mistakes do solution providers make when pitching and partnering with retailers? Which ones mentioned in the article resonate the most?