The Secret to Successful Retail Implementations


In this post, our director of customer success and retail strategy Libby Romfh discusses the secret to successful retail implementations. As the former director of store operations at Barnes & Noble, Libby has decades of experience here, along with an MS in organizational change management.

How often have you watched a carefully managed implementation fail because end-users didn’t use the software effectively – or at all?

You’re not alone. A McKinsey report found that, 72% of the time that projects failed, the reasons included either “management behaviors that didn’t support the change” or “employee resistance to change.”

Retailers can’t afford that risk because they rarely get second chances – executives won’t repeat failed investments, busy IT departments move on to the next priority, and front-line associates must focus on sales.

Your workforce management implementation depends on more than aligning back-office and store systems. Success requires people to change processes and sometimes even the nature of their jobs. Project management governs the technical implementation — but employee adoption requires another approach: change management.

What is Change Management?

Change management is the process of guiding people to align with the behaviors necessary to secure your project’s results.

Supplementing project management, change management uses a structured approach with dedicated resources, following a similar milestone-based approach to ensure that employees receive the direction, information, guidance, and support needed to move through the progressive phases of change.


Change management combines analysis, strategy, communications, training, and coaching to guide employees through the process of understanding, adopting, and maintaining the behaviors needed to attain your objectives.

Is Change Management Worth the Investment?

Well, how much of your project’s success depends on people changing their behavior?
If employees must change the way they’ve always done things, you will only achieve results if they adopt new behaviors quickly and use the solution proficiently. Change management delivers the portion of your results dependent on people.

What to Look for in a Change Management Practice

Change management can be defined in many ways. Not every consultant’s skills will suit a workforce management implementation. Four questions can help you select a consultant that fits your needs:

1. What’s your change management background?

Look for a practitioner with a solid education in change theory and analytics — and experience applying a range of techniques to a variety of retail implementations.

2. How many implementations of this solution have you completed?

Consultants with experience completing implementations of your solution can recommend approaches based on successes with other retailers and anticipate challenges with adoption.

3. How much hands-on retail experience do you have?

A consultant with an understanding of the natural tensions, vocabulary, and principles of the retail environment can skip the industry learning curve and go right to work.

4. What other services do you offer to support my employees?

Some consultants define change management narrowly. Others offer services such as customized eLearning modules and HelpDesk care that support end-users beyond the rollout.

Deciding to apply change management and selecting the right consultant will make the difference between achieving your business goals or getting bogged down with repeated implementations.

As one Operations VP said, “The definition of success is not completing the project plan — the definition of success is getting results.”

– Libby Romfh