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Partner or die – this means all of us

Chris Field
Chris Field

Prospecting for tech in retail today isn’t easy. The old certainties are all gone.

When the number of companies was smaller and the hierarchy was more rigid, it was easier for both tech companies and retailers to engage; and there was an army of consultants to do the filtering, due diligence and scoping.

That’s all gone, as two days at RBTE in London starkly brought home to me. Now, there are too many vendors chasing too little business, all encroaching on each other and making their offer too broad, too opaque and often too ambitious. And while there is still a noble core of consultants honourably guarding their independence, most have sold out and a few try to play both sides of the fence.

What’s a poor retailer to do? They can’t be expected to do all the graft in working out which companies to work with. I’ve seen quite a few RFPs this year and wondered why on earth they chose those particular companies and why they missed many of the obvious suspects.

Add to the difficulties of choosing a shortlist the fact that more and more of the vendors are startups, or established companies that have travelled invisibly through the world trading purely on word of mouth. Retailers then have to work out who to trust. Can they deliver? Will they be around next year? Are they looking to get sold? (Almost certainly yes to that last one).

Worse, will the solution on the table actually deliver the results required? Will the technology available now be superseded in three months by something with twice the functionality at half the price?

This is the reason the sales cycle is getting longer, in case you were wondering.

The answer is partnering. Not the definition that most companies use, which is a logo ticklist on a web page, but an active partnership between people with a shared commitment to deliver solutions. Someone who will work with the retailer through all of their challenges, sharing the risks and rewards, the tears and the laughter. Ok, mostly tears.

I’d share that model with you if space allowed. And obviously we have an IP to protect! But if you want to find out more, drop me an email.

 

 

 

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