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Retail CIOs look to break online and offline shopping barriers

Kenneth Corbin | Jan. 28, 2014
Tech leaders at retailers are heading for a software refresh, and many are expecting to replace legacy in-store systems with unified ecommerce systems in a bid to keep up with changing shopping habits.

Demandware is backing the ecommerce model, but regardless of which platform a retailer selects, the process of streamlining the operations of various divisions into a single IT system presents challenges that go beyond the technology itself.

In a segmentation typical of a retail operation, each division might conduct its work in a distinct technological environment: the store personnel might work in the POS system and other store-specific applications; the team focused on the digital customers would handle ecommerce; ERP applications for the merchandising divisions and CRM for the marketing folks.

"Organizationally, this is not easy, in that there have been specific teams focused on specific technologies to help serve specific constituents within the enterprise," Garf says.

For Now Retailers Sitting on Sidelines, Remain Risk-Averse
Another overarching concern is the unsettled field of vendors pitching technology solutions to help multichannel retailers overhaul their legacy systems, what Garf calls a "nascent" market segment. That may explain why many retail CIOs are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see where the market shakes out.

"Retailers are somewhat — as they typically are — risk-averse, and want to make sure they're making the right bet," Garf says.

"Retailers aren't necessarily looking to do a big bang approach today to create the single platform," he adds. "The retailers, to the degree they can, are biding their time, if you will, to see how some early adopters have benefited from this."


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