Why Automate your Retail Business to International Standards?

By: imtiaz ahmed

Retailers in Pakistan encounter many problems as they attempt to upgrade or introduce software systems. One major obstacle is the effort required, particularly for staff training and in developing new procedures, as the organization prepares to switch over from manually driven ways of work to new system driven procedures. Another is the lack of awareness of the various options that retailers should demand from their software vendor.

Retail is an intimate, customer focused business and the technology used should reflect that.

All too often we see Retail Technology, underestimated in terms of complexity and pay offs, left to generic software houses or accounting firms to develop and implement. This approach can lead to major drawbacks as neither of these business areas have core domain knowledge of retailing and apply standard accounting procedures and process to retail.

Often one here's of tall claims by local vendors that their system is "an Online System" or "Fully integrated with accounts", only to find that most claims fail to deliver and leave the retailer bewildered and disappointed. The situation then gets further aggravated as the retailer believes that the problem lies with him and not the vendor.

What is needed is a major realization by retailers that Retail Technology is not something to be "scared of".

It really is all about servicing the customer is the most friendly and efficient manner, (something that local customized solutions fail to do time and again). If the technology cannot meet these 2 goals (Friendly and Efficient) then it's too complicated and should not be used.

In my professional career as a retail consultant, I ask my clients why they choose a local solution and not one of the many excellent international retail standard products.

Here are the top answers.

1, we didn't know who to ask. (My fault as they should have asked me first)

2, it's more expensive.

3. Pakistan is unique and international standards don't apply.

So, part of my mandate is to explain and demonstrate that these assumptions need not be true. Let's look at these answerers one by one.

The first one is easy get in touch with us for an unbiased discussion on your needs.

The second one is definitely not true. There are software packages at 50% of local customized solutions with 100% more features and reliability.

The third one had some merit a number of years ago , however there is a growing awareness among many retailers that times are changing and that Pakistan's economy is opening up. Pakistani consumers have become more demanding in terms of the range of products and brands expected, and quality standards and service levels provided. All this starts to point to some sort of expectation by consumers of "International Standards". Should not the retailers be on the same frequency as their customers?

Getting back to the first question, "Why automate your retail business to international standards?", the answer could be, WHY NOT

Given that international retail standard products are: more cost effective, more reliable and have had 100,s of man hours in developing the argument for not having them in Pakistan is unfounded.

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