Build vs. buy: 5 things retailers need to consider before building in-store software

Published on October 1st 2019
By Imogen Wethered

One of the great pitfalls of modern technology is its simplicity – at least, to the human eye. An app’s design interface might employ minimalistic colours, have a cunningly smooth user experience, and help solve some very basic, everyday problems, but behind the scenes, simple-seeming software is often anything but.

For instance, at Qudini we’ve helped solve some very basic problems for retailers: managing in-store queues with digital queuing systems, enabling customers to book appointments with consultants, and helping store staff manage events and assign tasks to one another with ease.

In fact, we’ve done such a good job that we’ve made it look simple – but just like the 0.29 seconds that separates the world’s fastest 100m runner from the 25th fastest, the devil truly is in the details.

Our software has taken over seven years for a highly talented team of product designers and software developers to perfect, and now offers retailers such as Samsung, Natwest, Specsavers, O2 and Brown Thomas the opportunity to create superior customer experiences, benefit from advanced in-store operations and capture game-changing insights.

But one of the most common challenges we come up against when speaking with retailers is that they assume they can easily build something similar to our solutions on their own.

At the risk of sounding blunt, 99% of the time these businesses have failed in their efforts, and many have returned to us two or three years down the track having spent a million or so pounds on an unsuccessful and fundamentally-flawed solution.

At times, we’ve seen organisations build a fraction of our offering but without the highly intelligent algorithms and data insights, and therefore, miss out on 90% of our offering whilst hindering their stores’ performance as a result.

To help organisations analyse the options before deciding which route to take, below I’ve outlined the main business case for buying software over attempting to build digital queuing, appointment scheduling, event management and task management software in-house.

Do you have the time, patience and money?

You might hail from a technologically innovative retail business with access to a team of highly-experienced software developers, but don’t be fooled into thinking that devoting a few weeks or months of their time towards building in-store software solutions will be enough.

At Qudini, it’s taken us years to build out our range of products and, as a result, it is highly evolved with complex algorithms that calculate queue times, appointment availability, event availability, staff time, motion and tasks using a matrix of real-time, historic and predictive data.

To build just a very basic, and not very intelligent version of just one of our solutions: appointments, queue management, tasks or events, you will need at least five developers for 18-24 months, costing you almost £500k – and this doesn’t include the time it will take for product management or data analytics. To build an intelligent and fully integrated version of our offering you would need to spend many multiples of this.

Hosting, security management and maintenance further adds to your cost, which isn’t insignificant. A software solution as complex and as essential to day-to-day store operations as ours needs a high-performance server infrastructure and multiple failover backup processes in place.

To manage queues, events and appointments you need to capture customer data, so having high security is critical – otherwise you put your business at risk of fines into the multi-millions. We’ve invested a lot of time and money developing security processes that ensure constant vulnerability scanning and frequent CREST-accredited penetration testing to ensure maximum system security. We also help ensure clients meet GDPR regulations by providing an easy way to clean, remove and anonymise customer data when needed – and our policies and processes are all ISO27001 compliant.

This means that you’ll also need initial software development, hosting, maintenance and security management for a software solution like ours, which can easily cost £100k a year or more.

Furthermore, once you deliver a product to your stores, they’re inevitably going to find issues, tell you how to change the interface to better suit their working process and require new functionalities. It’s taken Qudini years of feedback and iterations to get our interfaces perfect, in addition to the endless time adapting our backend algorithms to support the changes we make. You’ll also need to update the software to support new business systems and hardware devices. This means you’ll need at least two to four full-time developers and project managers building out your platform for it to fulfill the needs of your stores, ensuring an annual overhead of around £250k.

You also need to accumulate the costs of your stores using a product that doesn’t quite meet their needs. If your store staff each lose just half an hour a month trying to find work arounds for functionalities they need or are suffering with performance problems, this could cost a 300 store retailer a further quarter of a million a year.

In total, we estimate:

Can you really afford to wait?

When building new software, not only are you adding to your costs, but you are also losing out on the opportunity to increase sales, drive lasting customer loyalty, reduce operational costs and capture data that accelerates your business into the future. Our software delivers instant ROI from day one.

If you’re a 500 store retailer, for instance, and you sell to just one more customer a week per store as a result of our software, you can easily generate £1.5m more in annual revenue. Furthermore, we also enable retailers to better allocate when and where they position their staff, and capture valuable customer data, allowing them to continually improve their operations and customer acquisition methods. (Many of our clients have experienced at least a £500k bump in efficiency gains and annual overhead reductions alone.)

If you were to go ahead and build your own in-house solution, you would have missed out on two years’ worth of the ROI our product offering comes with, in addition to the opportunity to showcase your brand as an innovative leader in your field.

Do you have access to the right technical support?

If you were to get your in-house team to build your own software, you run the risk of losing out on having the right experience and support in place.

In creating our software and working alongside a variety of organisations, we’ve built up a bank of knowledge that we transfer over to all our customers. We provide the detailed service and consultancy of a collaborative retail partner, in addition to offering all the benefits of a highly scalable cloud-based product. All our knowledge and support ensures that from day one of implementing our software, it suits your business processes and generates financial return.

By not working with a dedicated provider, you risk embedding the software incorrectly, failing to comply with key legislations such as GDPR, as well as operational overheads and reputational damage.

Will it meet your future needs?

Today’s retail market is developing at an unprecedented rate, and to keep up with digital change, you’ll need to be constantly innovating.

If you were to build your own in-house software, you will need to be continuously updating your product in order to remain competitive and relevant.

Our wide knowledge of the market and continuous feedback collection process from our broad range of clients, on the other hand, means we are constantly building new functionalities to suit the changing needs of the industry and helping retailers stay relevant.

Is now the right time to build?

Over the years we’ve worked with several retailers who intended to build their own in-house solutions, but partnered with us to help meet their immediate needs – and we’re okay with this. If we can help you to gain a thorough understanding of what you need by using our tools first before investing time and energy building your own offering, it’s just another powerful opportunity for us to generate ROI for your business.

Throughout our relationship, we’ll stay at the top of our game to make sure we prove why you should stay with us, presenting you with ROI metrics and collaborating with you over our future roadmap plans to provide you with features far beyond what you initially signed up to. We’ve been delighted to see that all of these retail partners have opted not to build an offering in-house and have stayed with us to continue benefitting from the immediate ROI, our ongoing innovations, our secure and robust platforms and our energetic maintenance and consultancy services.

And if you do want to build a bespoke user journey, you can do so by using our APIs and leveraging our core platform to do the heavy lifting while customising the look and feel to your customers.

Hopefully I have persuaded you to avoid building your own offering and investing significant spend on a product that is insufficient and leads your stores and customers wanting more.

Get in touch to learn more about how our system works, our forthcoming roadmap innovations and the significant results we’ve generated for our clients.

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