Innovative Retail Technologies

NOV-DEC 2016

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Navigating The LP Solutions Landscape A s the former leader of the loss preven- tion & asset protection group for one of the largest retailers in the world, you would think that my team and I were abreast of each and every new technological and solution-based offering available to my organization. That was far from reality. Our reality was combating shrink and loss, both external and internal, dealing with constant internal challenges, developing and execut- ing game plans, teaching and training (not to mention the massive people management element), and keeping our customers and as- sociates safe and sound each and every day. Today, many leading retailers have advanced their research and development capabilities, established working and living laboratories, and created innovation teams, which are all focused on getting the latest and greatest technology. In our cause-and-effect world, here are some things retailers should consider when deploying loss prevention solutions: A retailer must experience pain. In most instances, retailers realize there is a problem. Often, they have neither the solution, nor have they properly identified the cause of the prob- lem. It takes time and research to help identify and isolate the issues causing the pain points. Once that is accomplished — either utilizing internal resources or external solution provided resources/tools — then the retailer can go about sourcing the best solution. There must be a strong financial return. Let's face it; retailers do not innovate for the sake of innovation. When looking for ways to improve operations, one must always lead with the end game first, and that is, how will the retailer save in bottom line profitability? There must be a need. Some solutions are nice-to-haves, and others are must-haves. Iden- tifying the needs and separating them from the nice-to-haves is essential when working closely with retailers. It must work. There is no room for error in the business of new technology deployment. The retailer is taking time, money, and human resources to completely shift their focus and priorities on the deployment of tools, and failure is not an option. In order for retailers to trust in and rely on solutions providers, the pro- cess must be vetted and tested in a real-world environment. It must involve a partnership. You can't have the greatest mousetrap for sale without having a team dedicated to install- ing, servicing, supporting, and babysitting it. Retailers look for partners to put skin in the game and be fully invested in every ele- ment of the solution. The key to delivering a solution to a retailer is that providers must be prepared to embed their resources and manage the project from cradle to grave. So how does a retailer choose a par- ticular solution and decide to roll it out? Here are some typical steps deployed by retailers today. Step 1: Research Retail teams conduct research and often bring in multiple vendors for a "road show" type of presentation. It is here that the retailer learns which solutions are available and which providers have the best position for delivering that solution. Step 2: Vetting Once retailers have narrowed their solutions providers down to a manageable number, they will often vet the participants in regards to the reputation of the provider. This includes a vig- orous investigation into the people, financials, references, and track record of the solution companies. Step 3: Testing Leading retailers deploy a multitude of testing processes. Some use a combination of meth- ods. The most popular ones today include: Live Test Lab. A live lab is a test facility set up either as a simple test room where processes and/or tools are put to the test or recreated store environments that test in true real-world environments. Store Testing. Many retailers will use their current store alignment as a testing facility. Often this may start with a one store test and then graduate to a larger district or regional test sample. External Testing. Some retailers allow the solutions provider to conduct testing in the solutions provider's lab at the retailer's direc- tion. This allows the retailer to avoid actual store testing. Research Labs. Another alternative is partnering with an organization like the Loss Turning a great idea into a deployable solution is a multi-step, multi-faceted process. BY KEITH AUBELE I CPP, LPP Nov-Dec 2016 32 In order for retailers to trust in and rely on solutions providers, the process must be vetted and tested in a real-world environment. What's Next

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