Christopher Davis has around three decades of experience in the industry, introducing numerous solutions and capabilities and replacing legacy systems. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Consulting—owned by IBM Global Services—as a senior consultant after graduating in computer science from Brigham Young University. Being responsible for ERP transformation, he spent ten years at IBM implementing SAP solutions across the U.S. and globally. Later, he worked for various organizations such as Maytag, Whirlpool Corporation, Sleep Number Corporation, and Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers, leading IT teams and helping to rebuild their IT capabilities. Recently, Davis joined as a CIO at The Tile Shop, where he is enabling the company to undergo a significant technological, cultural, and organizational transformation, dealing with people, processes, and technology.
According to you, what are the common problems that retailers face with the point of sale (POS) systems?
As the retail industry continues to transform and deal with rapidly changing technology, it requires to provide omnichannel capabilities to meet consumers at their preferable channel. The POS systems tend to be separate systems from a traditional ERP system or an e-commerce solution. This siloed nature of POS systems makes the integration of solutions the biggest challenge. The integration becomes more critical when paired with channel-less capability requirements to be where, when, and how the customer wants. Businesses must recognize it irrespective of customers' current location or experience. Lastly, retailers often use outdated POS technologies as they focus on aspects that drive their revenue. They consider a POS system just as a transactional system and not a tool that can drive revenue. And yet, it impacts employee and customer experience. If POS experience is negative for employees, it affects their job satisfaction. Consequently, it influences consumers and, ultimately, constrains revenue.
Could you shed some light on the projects you have been working on lately?
The Tile Shop went through an SAP ERP implementation two and a half years ago. The implementation was challenging at that time and required a great deal of effort to just stabilize the solution. Employees had to put significant efforts into using the complex technology. In specialty retail space, transactions are complicated, and so, businesses tend to have more complex solutions for sale. However, at the same time, this complexity poses challenges to employees and ultimately to consumers. The Tile Shop faced the same issue. From the day I joined the company, my primary objective has been to improve and simplify the POS experience for employee, making it easier for them to be trained or onboarded and execute the transactions. Secondly, my goal is to equip employees with tools that allow them to better serve customers by providing them with the right information quickly. These tools should help us build relationships with clients over time through necessary follow-ups.
Most importantly, we are looking forward to implementing a unique solution to remove the silos nature of ERP systems, POS systems, and e-commerce systems by integrating them. The solution will eliminate the need for data integration and synchronization with a single database. It will free us from the challenges associated with historic technology constraints. The idea is to undergo a design and implementation phase by Q1 of the next year and ensure final rollout by the second quarter.
In your perspective, what would be the future of POS in the next 12 to 24 months?
In my perspective, more organizations will continue to look for simplicity, more straightforward experience, and leveraging cloud capabilities. They would demand fully integrated capabilities to make it simpler to execute and support and truly remove the channel as a concept from the customer experience. Also, there will be an increase in simplification of payment processing and providing alternative payment options. FinTech is bringing numerous capabilities to POS. So, the market will witness the improvement of payment processing as it is undoubtedly an aggressive growth area in the POS space. Apart from this, POS needs to be mobile in the store—even the traditional POS vendors are indeed working to roll out mobile POS. Needless to say, companies that are not looking to improve the POS experience for employees and customers will certainly fall behind.
What is the piece of advice that you would like to give to your fellow colleagues and the upcoming professionals?
While driving the change and solving business problems, look at people first, process second, and technology third. Technology is just a means to an end. And, if you can't align it with the right people and processes, then it is just an expensive failed technology. That's why I encourage upcoming professionals to focus on aligning people and processes with technology, as at the end of the day, POS is just a means to an end. So, if you don't have visibility on the business problem you are trying to solve, don't start.