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How to Invest for Today and Tomorrow Without a Crystal Ball

What takes a partner or vendor relationship to the level of a true collaboration? And what are the benefits of collaboration? Let’s discuss.

If the last year and a half taught us anything, it’s that life doesn’t always go as planned. From spending more time at home to forgoing the daily commute, life has changed indefinitely.

On the business front, even the most carefully curated retail strategy plan for 2020, and frankly 2021, did not pan out as expected. Most retailers struggled to keep up with the shift to a digital-first mindset and unanticipated behavior changes, yet some retailers like Five Below, Old Navy, and At Home thrived in the disruption.

We’ve all been told that e-commerce innovation is the key to success moving forward, but much of the advice being thrown at retailers today assumes that technology is one-size-fits-all. A curbside pickup option may be perfect for grocers or drugstores, but experience-based stores like a luxury retailer may need to invest in technology like a scheduling platform that welcomes the customer in while keeping them safe. All the while, the innovation a retailer needs to support shoppers today might be very different from the one needed in six months.

With all this in mind, it can be difficult for retailers to know which solutions to invest in to create a better customer experience, at an affordable price. gicom helps retailers boost their profits and protect margins, and we understand that innovation is a major part of running a business today. The key is to invest correctly to promote growth without adding too many risks. Here are a few tips to consider when planning for the future, even when the future is uncertain.

Invest in Now, But Prepare for Later

It can be tempting to pick a solution that only solves your immediate issues, but make sure that any solution you select is also scalable for the future.

For example, if you invest in developing a complex personalization strategy for the e-commerce store while customers are preferring to shop from their couch, you might neglect to incorporate an in-store component for the day shoppers return to brick-and-mortar.

In fact, despite pandemic innovations and digital adaptation rates, 71% of Americans are back to shopping in-person at least once a week. Predicting trends can be difficult, but one thing we know for sure is that customer behavior can change rapidly.

Retailers should invest for the short- and the long-term by selecting solutions that are flexible and dynamic. With flexibility in your technology comes scalability and new growth opportunities. As your company grows and customer needs change, the right solutions will adapt with you.

Take Risks, But Never Go in Blind

Similarly, it’s okay to take risks and try out new technology that would put your brand ahead of the innovation curve and excite shoppers. But you should never assume that the innovation will boost the bottom line without adequate testing.

To ensure an investment is worthwhile, dedicate some time to scenario testing. Try changing outside factors or increasing or decreasing supply and demand to see if the investment will boost or hinder your overall revenue. If the solution continuously benefits the company during the simulations or the risk of loss is worth the potential reward, then you know the investment is right for your business.

Trust the Experts, but Also Trust Yourself

Finding a solution for your business is more than just finding the right technology. It’s finding a solution provider that works with you, not against you. It’s finding a team of experts to train your employees to use the technology and ensuring success. It’s important to find a provider you trust to address issues, without always resorting to a sales pitch. Are they open to working with you as your requirements change? If a new issue arises, do you have the needed support?

A true vendor partner will provide individualized advice for your company’s needs and holistic support and maintenance from implementation to day-to-day use. What’s more, asking for help should be easy, and good solution providers will assign you a single point of contact from the first interaction that’s dedicated to helping you exceed your goals.

With gicom, you’ll always be supported because your success is our success. We believe in helping you achieve quick wins, while making sure your innovations are also scalable and strategic for long-term advancements as well. And throughout the journey, we aim to please you! Our philosophy has always been “We meet your requirements and don’t distort them.” This is particularly true for your journey to leverage new capabilities with SAP S/4HANA and in the Cloud.

What Have Your Investments Taught You?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to protecting margins and boosting profits. If an investment doesn’t have a clear and consistent benefit, the risks might outweigh the rewards. When preparing for an uncertain future, investing in technology can be intimidating but gicom is here to help you. gicom’s real-time margin calculation and the agreement optimization solution with SAP S/4HANA and gicom can help you see how future investments will help, or hurt, your bottom line and prepare you for sustained growth.

Have you ever had an experience where a technical innovation didn’t go as planned? Or were you ever spot-on with a trend prediction and then saw the impacts of a successful new solution?