For a retail company, point of sale is the foundational technology upon which all other system capabilities must build. Without a solid base in POS, a retailer would be hamstrung from innovating in other processes, technologies, or analytics. That’s why the selection of a POS system is often one of the most thorough endeavors that a retailer takes on. While the selection stage is crucial, the POS implementation phase is where many retailers fall short of the grand aspirations that had been built up at the start of the process. Implementation of POS is complex – it involves numerous stakeholders across the business, countless integrations, and physically impacts every store. To help navigate this challenging process, Clarkston has identified 5 areas to keep in mind and prioritize at the start of a point-of-sale implementation:
POS Implementation Key Considerations
While integrations are always a key component of POS implementation, this is an area that deserves special consideration as it can significantly influence the end product. In fact, half the battle is not even with the new POS, but in accurately locating and mapping data from existing systems. Since a legacy POS may not have been touched in many years or even decades, documentation of the surrounding data architecture is often outdated or may not even exist. This effort must be done before the system implementation can even begin. Once that baseline has been effectively established, another important consideration is to think outside the box of the existing systems, and leverage all the new capabilities that a new POS system can support. For example, a centralized promotions tool, or an improved analytics capability. To get the most value from the new POS, integrations should be looked at from a fresh perspective.
The testing workstream for POS implementation cannot be undervalued – ultimately, the store associates’ trust in the new POS depends heavily on the quality of testing that is performed. But a strong testing team does more than run through scripts. For example, the testing team will influence timeline and scope, as they manage competing priorities for testing various bug fixes, packages, and releases. The testing team will need to effectively present the timeline options and tradeoffs to stakeholders to make decisions on these competing priorities. Furthermore, the testing team needs to maintain consistent visibility on progress and risks to the project leadership, while maintaining an appropriate level of detail. Thus, engaging the testing team early on with project planning will help set up the whole team for success.
It is easy to get caught up in the grand planning of a POS implementation project at the corporate level, and miss a crucial aspect of successful implementation – the store associates. Involving them as a significant stakeholder throughout the Selection, Design, Testing, and Deployment of the POS is important to ensuring that there is buy-in from the ultimate end-users of the system. To maximize adoption, a robust communication plan that balances excitement with expectations-setting is required. And above all, training is absolutely critical to the success of the POS deployment, as it quite literally has the potential to make or break the efficacy of the POS at stores.
Depending on the scope of stores undergoing the POS upgrade, deployment can quickly become a laborious aspect of the implementation, as it is the culmination of all other workstreams. Planning for this phase should start early. From managing the physical flow of hardware, the tactical installation and store upgrades, coordination with store associates, and monitoring the new system in a production environment, deployment requires a lot of focus and collaboration. It is important to dedicate the right resources to ensuring the execution of the deployment is managed in an organized, rigorous, and cost-effective manner.
With a project as complex as POS implementation, it is critical to have a strong, defined program-management element to act as the train-tracks that keep the entire initiative moving forward. Especially since there are often other ongoing initiatives simultaneous to POS, which may have dependencies on each other. A PMO will ensure that there is communication across the projects, and any significant decisions or timeline impacts are properly considered in the context of the entire Retail organization.
If you are faced with the significant task – and opportunity! – of upgrading your Point of Sale, reach out to one of our Retail consultants. We have subject matter experts across all facets of POS, from selection to execution, and can meet the needs of your retail organization where it is today.