Agility Is Oxygen: New Requirements for Retail Solution Selection

Retail is changing in ways that are hard to predict. As the ability to pivot, adjust, adapt, and respond quickly and effectively has never been more critical, Agility is Oxygen for retailers. Traditional retail selection processes too often lack specific focus on this agility, so if you’re looking for new solutions, be sure to define requirements tailored to your needs in order to increase adaptability.

Choosing a new technology is a substantial operation, which is why retail best practices usually include a rigorous vetting and selection process for potential suppliers:

  • Establishing a competitive environment
  • Identifying the most appropriate providers
  • Defining detailed requirements
  • Assessing the solutions in a comprehensive and objective manner

Although necessary, these should simply provide a baseline. Retailers seeking optimal solutions must expand the scope of detailed requirements beyond those for business and technology to include requirements that specifically address agility.


Incorporating Agility Requirements In Retail Solution Selection

Sophelle has helped hundreds of retailers find the best solutions to capture opportunities and address challenges. Our projects cover the gamut of retail applications including ecommerce, point of sale, order management, warehouse management, ERP, merchandising, financials, and others. RFPs typically capture hundreds to over 1,000 detailed requirements.

Below are four high-level agility factors that retailers need to consider.

Agility Factor #1: Adoption

RFPs often focus on project management vs. change management efforts and deliverables.

Agility requirements include:

  • What change management processes will be leveraged?
    Change management is critical. There are a number of leading frameworks including Prosci ADKAR, Kotter 8-Step Process, McKinsey.7-S. Each process is unique and will best fit projects based on the organization’s culture and the nature of the change. Sophelle’s approach to change management is Agility Optimization. We look at each project to address the organization’s environment and underlying capabilities. The goal is to develop an organization’s ability to make the current and subsequent change projects easier.

Agility Factor #2: Modification

Business requirements tend to focus on current processes. Agility requirements include:

  • How flexible is the solution with new processes?
    New business processes are continually created and existing processes optimized to offer opportunities for business benefits. Business Process Optimization (BPO) projects can improve productivity and lower costs. Retailers need to be able to seize these opportunities as they arise and fit them within their organizations. The ability for your solutions to facilitate new and optimized processes should be a critical factor in selection.

Agility Factor #3: Enhancement

Detailed requirements typically include factors such as the solution’s ability to address current and planned functionality and processes. Agility requirements include:

  • How much time, effort, and cost will new enhancements require?
    Availability and licensing cost of the functionality is only the start. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) needs to be considered, including the time and effort required for implementation, integration, configuration, and user adoption.

Agility Factor #4: Scale

RFPs typically address the solution’s ability to handle growth plans with a safety margin for unanticipated growth. In order to be agile, you must also be prepared for an unforeseen reduction. Agility requirements include:

  • Does the solution help when business contracts?
    Many solutions offer a shared success pricing model. When the number of users, revenue, or other metric increases, so do solution costs: the value of the solution and the costs of providing it increase as well. This aspect offers agility — but only in one direction. Historically, shared success pricing doesn’t drop below a baseline amount, even if a company’s metrics decrease significantly. Every effort should be taken to avoid the situation where the solution is no longer cost-effective and the switching cost is greater than the cost/benefit deficit.

These agility factors should be considered for all solutions selections, so retailers would benefit from identifying detailed agility requirements for each, but we suggest evaluating additional agility factors depending on your company’s needs. Feel free to contact us if you need Sophelle’s support.