Avoiding the Retail Tech Vendor Apocalypse

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Avoiding the Retail Tech Vendor Apocalypse

By Joe Skorupa - 08/08/2018

Your business is what you do. Your reputation is what people think you do.

This is a harsh truth of the marketplace and one that can be painful to retail tech vendors built on the classic sales-organization model.

Solution providers like these incent top executives to give A-level priority to hitting sales goals and B-level priority to meeting the needs of their customers (retailers). Clearly, customers can feel this disconnect and the result has a negative impact on a solution provider’s reputation, according to the detailed special report “Transforming the Retail/Tech Vendor Relationship.”

Another source of friction is produced by the unique nature of retailers themselves, who are probably the world’s leading experts in the art of customer satisfaction. Retailers intimately know what customer satisfaction should be when a product is purchased. This knowledge is essential to their business and when they apply this standard to a tech vendor that is weak at delivering customer satisfaction, unsurprisingly, retailers can become harsh critics.

“For vendors, the money has always been in selling multiple licenses (one for each store) to maximize revenues,” says Ken Morris, principal at BRP. “That mentality will be the downfall of some vendors.”

This disconnect between retail solutions providers and retailers plays out in several ways:

Fortunately, not all vendors create friction with their customers based on a discordant business model and many who have done it in the past are making serious efforts to become more customer-centric.

This is good news for retailers who are seeking ways to ease their technology burden by consolidating infrastructure, applications and platforms. Consolidation like this enables retailers to rely on fewer technology partners and also forces them to rely more heavily on the partners they choose. As a result, retailers need to know their key solution providers are reliable and trustworthy.

The question for retailers then becomes not who is responsible for customer satisfaction with the tech vendor, but who is responsive. And the answer is the entire vendor organization.

The difference between responsible and responsive is important because it shifts the focus of the conversation from technology (product-centricity) to service and satisfaction (customer-centricity).

A technology vendor’s reputation is not completely within its control. A large part of a tech vendor’s reputation is in the control of its customers.

Only when a true partnership exists between both sides can there be alignment between what technology vendors say they do they do and what customers think they do, which is how strong reputations are built and sustained.

To read the full report, which features the viewpoints of industry leading retailers and experts, click here.

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