Lead from behind!!!!

Lead from behind has been a phrase used to describe a method of foreign diplomacy recently. I believe it can be used as way for the small and independent retailers to embrace new technologies. There has been an avalanche of data and articles about Cloud Computing, Software as a Service, Social Media and omni-channel shopping to name a few. Now I’m not suggesting that these issues should be ignored, they’re relevant. What I am suggesting is that retailers should not have a knee jerk reaction to every new technology or concept that hits the market. Independent retailers specifically have limited resources to effectively implement new technology. They need to avoid the “Rube Goldberg” methodology of kludging bits and pieces together in hopes they will all work together. Before embracing any new technology investment there should be an evaluation process that includes the following questions:
– How does this work with my system(s)?
– What is the total cost including training and implementation?
– Do I have the internal resources to implement this new widget?
– How can I use it to increase and grow my business?
– What is the anticipated return on my investment?
– Should this be my number one technology investment at this time?

If you can’t answer these questions then don’t make the investment until you can. Step back using these questions as a frame work to determine how and when you should move forward to implement any new technology. Develop a long term plan listing the new software and technologies that you should consider and put them in order of priority based on which ones give you the biggest bang for the buck and which can be implemented successfully with your internal resources. Leading from behind is not always a bad thing and in fact for many retailers it’s the prudent thing.