Resellers serving the retail sector are only likely to succeed if their offering reduces customer costs. They should ask retailers how they communicate effectively and consistently with customers in the store.
The question is hardly ever asked because retailers generally manage somehow to get their signage out in stores. Yet in every store, signs disappear or get damaged or, worst of all, never get put up.
Customers may not buy an item if there is no sign, nor will they trust a store with poor signage. So in-store staff, instead of staying on the shop floor facilitating sales, are often in the back office or trying to find and replace missing and damaged signs.
As a result, there are long lead times for promotions, which cannot happen as often or as quickly. Making and displaying signage becomes more labour-intensive and costly.
There can be duplication across communication channels: paper signage, digital signage, web sites, TV displays, kiosks and the like, which are all managed separately.
Repetition of such information and effort makes it easy for branding inconsistencies and pricing errors to occur, resulting in customer confusion.
There may also be a massive amount of wastage if the signage set-up is not integrated with the inventory system, meaning that signage may often be sent to stores for items that are not in stock. This too increases costs – and the store’s carbon footprint.
If the right signage is sent to the right store, too much time and effort may be spent putting up and taking down signs when the signage system is not integrated with the store layout or planogram.
Batches of signs may be printed in no particular order. This introduces a substantial overhead for in-store staff putting up and taking down signs, rather than being focused on communication with the customer and other benefits.
Deploying new initiatives can be difficult and frustrating for retail marketing departments as they are given long lead times for what should be simple and quick-to-execute promotional activities.
But it does not need to be this way. The answer is a system by which retailers can manage and integrate all their marketing communications, whether in-store or external.
And the solution does not depend on technology, so much as improved control and integration of both systems and processes. But resellers can help them with that too.
Derek Buchanan is chief executive officer at Episys
'Smaller firms may struggle to keep up with Microsoft's innovation with Dynamics' says CEO Stuart Fenton after acquiring assets from Profile Enterprise Solutions
Pete Peterson admits the firm hasn't always been the 'easiest company to do business with'
New chief exec Aaron Painter says 'longer-term strategy' could see firm tackle the Asian market
XMA bosses on becoming a 'performance VAR', pocketing £50m of Misco leftovers, and acquisition near-misses
Lee Hemani and Andy Wright reveal that XMA is aiming to boost net profits to three per cent of revenues as they run through the growth ambitions of the UK's ninth-largest reseller