Over the past year, “becoming data driven” has been a central theme at industry events and in industry publications. The term “digital transformation” has been used to describe the journey from the manual, the analog, and the traditional, towards a future where data is not merely present, but deeply integrated and actively working for us. This transformation promises not just enhanced revenue, profit, and customer satisfaction, but also a profound change in how businesses operate. For many operators, it sounds too complicated or simply too good to be true – particularly after previous experience with technology vendors that have over-promised and under-delivered.
The purpose of this post is not to sell you on the concept, which has been done ad nauseam, but to make it approachable, understandable, and less daunting. Here’s how you can break down the process into manageable steps and key considerations for a successful digital transformation.
Steps to Digital Transformation
1. Selecting Your Partner
Choosing the right partner for your digital transformation is like choosing a co-pilot for a cross-country road trip. It’s not just about the vehicle but also about the company you’ll keep.
a. Cost – Consider the financial investment and the time commitment required from your team.
Is the cost justifiable based on the projected outcomes?
Will your team need to sideline other projects to implement and learn to use these new systems?
b. Capability – Investigate the full range of what the product can do.
Is it designed specifically for convenience retailers?
Does it have existing integrations with the systems that are already in use at your business?
c. Collaboration – Evaluate the implementation process, customer support and partnership you’ll receive.
Will your vendor lead you through this transformation step by stem or will they simply provide the necessary technology?
Will you have access to training, customer service, and technical support when you need it?
Our industry is evolving quickly and modern technology solutions have to keep up. Will you be charged for future enhancements and upgrades to the system that you have chosen?
2. Sorting Out Your Data
“Good Data” is the fuel for your digital engine. If it’s unrefined or improperly cataloged, it will cause your engine to seize up rather than increasing your horsepower and performance.
a. Real-Time Integration – Data that is days or weeks old will not allow you to take action and address issues before they become big problems.
b. Cataloging – The NACS Standard of Categorization allows you to perform analysis down to the SKU level.
c. Tailored Solutions – Look for a solution that was purpose built for the convenience store industry. Off-the-Shelf products require huge amounts of customization and integration work.
A convenience specific solution should enable you to analyze promotions, price items, analyze market baskets and prevent losses.
3. Getting Everyone On Board
Remember, technology is a tool, not a solution. The most advanced systems are worthless if your team isn’t using them.
a. Effort to Implement – How long will it take to integrate with your existing technologies and get the system up and running?
Assess how the technology will be adopted by the users. Your solution provider should have a proven process for implementation, training and the ongoing utilization for each of your user groups.
b. Automate Manual Reporting – Technology that can replace batch data extraction and manipulation in Excel will free up time and resources. So does this save time extracting and manipulating data and will it be in real time?
c. Simplifying Other Tasks – Consider what other business problems your new technology can solve. What other tasks could be made easier? Pricing? Inventory management? Can the solution help with these tasks?
Embracing digital transformation can be daunting, yet with the right partner, organized data, and user adoption, substantial benefits await within 90 days. Careful partner selection and data organization, coupled with driving user adoption, pave the way for success. Contact Taiga to discuss how we can partner with you on this transformative journey.