Latest ORIS Intelligence News
Oct 2, 2020
Retail Re-Brand: Lessons Learned from the Front Lines of an Acquisition October 2, 2020 at 8:24 AM EDT By Anthony Ferry, PriceSpider Share on email Pier 1 Imports, Barney’s New York, Forever 21…the list of retailers filing for bankruptcy seems to be growing every day, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to navigate the changing retail landscape. Retailers are busy closing brick-and-mortar stores while trying to prop up their e-Commerce solutions to stay in the game. With the overwhelming number of technologies available to help retailers today, we are entering the next phase of retail technology consolidation. The ability to quickly adapt to change could be the key factor in any business’ success. The list of aforementioned brand behemoths’ failure to change paints the picture of what a lack of agility can do to even the biggest of businesses. The brands and technologies that serve ecommerce are all fighting for the same thing: improving the customer experience. But how do you improve the customer experience of a customer who is always redefining what that experience should be? What was innovative today is table stakes tomorrow, and what was once bleeding edge is seen as gimmicky now. Get comfortable in change, because it is the one thing that is always inevitable. The brands and technologies that serve e-Commerceare all fighting for the same thing: improving the customer experience. But howdo you improve the customer experience of a customer who is always redefiningwhat that experience should be? What was innovative today is table stakestomorrow, and what was once bleeding edge is seen as gimmicky now. Getcomfortable in change, because it is the one thing that is always inevitable. Advertisement In the spirit of embracing change, here arefive key lessons we learned during our acquisition of ORIS Intelligence andtheir MAP solution, Prowl, that we plan on paying close attention to in anyfuture acquisition activity: 1. The Fear of the Unknown IS Real Whenever a companyembarks on a new direction, there’s always uncertainty about the future. Theexhilarating high of the unknown is intoxicating at first, but when realitysinks in with true impacts of the decisions made, the fear of the unknown canspook those impacted but not involved, like employees and customers. The lastthing you want is people making quick decisions based on a past bad experience. Customers andemployees will quickly make assumptions about what is coming, and thoseassumptions will become their reality if you don’t own the message and sharethe big picture. Make sure they have all the information necessary to remainexcited about being a customer or employee. To say that people fear change is acommonplace, but it’s not change they fear as much as it is the uncertaintythat change brings. You have to manageexpectations around them and know that even with the best intentions in mind todo what’s best for the company, your actions will not always be perceived asyou’d intended. Knowing your audience is key. What’s perceived as good news toone person doesn’t mean everyone feels the same. 2. Consistent Communication Is A Must Have George Bernard Shawwrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it hastaken place.” Which really means, you don’t actually know what people hear andthat’s why repetition is so important. In retrospect, we did a good job ofcommunicating to employees and customers right out of the gate. What wecould’ve done better was ensure that we were constantly communicating,especially internally, about the impacts of the change. Even in the absence ofknowing the answers, just to say that we recognize this and we’re working on itwould’ve helped everyone stay more focused. The next time we take on a changethis big, we will dedicate more time to being very considerate of communicatingearly and even more often. 3. Culture Does Indeed Eat Strategy for Breakfast When Peter Druckersaid, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” it was no joke. Culture is one ofthe most dynamic and fragile things in business. Just because two cultures workseparately doesn’t guarantee that when they come together it’ll be the businessequivalent of finding your soulmate. There are nuances that need to berespected and they are often intangible. If a brand like Appleacquires a company of a couple hundred people, this is a much differentscenario than if you’re acquiring a company of similar size and stature to yourown. The former is more of a “Hey guys, welcome, you’re Apple now.” When weacquired ORIS, it was more the latter. The key learning here was to trulyunderstand the culture of the org being acquired. Don’t be hasty: you needto experience and understand the similarities and differences between thecultures to be able to put together a plan to merge the two. During thisacquisition it required a lot of collaboration to understand the culture thatwould work well for all of us, and now, after almost eight months, I thinkwe’ve started to find our groove, but it didn’t happen overnight. 4. Don’t Compromise Your Key Resources Undertaking anacquisition is a resource drain, and the impact of that strain on resources hasthe possibility of affecting the current business negatively. The more anacquiring company can afford to have a dedicated team to pore over the details,the better. If I look back at ourresults when we were in the throes of the ORIS acquisition, I can see theimpact it had on our core business. Historically, we not only accomplished ourgoals at PriceSpider, we crushed them. Our results were still good, but for thefirst time, they fell short of expectations set by past success. If I look backat this and think about who spent time and how much, most of our leaders acrossall departments were compromised. As I look forward to the next opportunity, wewill bring in more outside resources for diligence, analysis and evaluation, soour leaders can focus on the core strategic decisions and be left to ensurebusiness operations are not impacted. Investing in as manyexternal or dedicated internal resources as you can during an acquisition inorder to preserve the bandwidth of your operational leaders will produce astrong ROI. 5. The Glass is (Mostly) Half Full, but be Ready for Anything I am a veryoptimistic person, so I hate to make such a broad negative statement like,“Everything will take longer than you think,” but in all honesty, it probablywill. The broader integration challenge of merging systems, people, culture andtools are ones where you don’t want to be aggressive in your estimates. In the end, there isno perfect set of diligence, and you willdiscover surprises along the way. You don’t reallyknow exactly what you’re going to get until you dive in, see the businessprocesses that work day to day, and essentially uncover the unknown. Next timeI’m not going to be so aggressive in estimating what is possible within acertain amount of time. We’re going to give ourselves enough time to do theintegrations right. Making accurate estimates will help us be better across theboard. By setting realistic expectations, we’ll decrease ambiguity and give ourselvesbetter vision, so that we while we willbe ready for anything, anything will have a harder time finding us. All in, change, while good, is unsettling, and not everyone is as ready and willing to accept it as others. With these five lessons fresh in my mind we are better armed with the confidence to manage change while keeping in mind that every person and every business evolves, but how quickly we recognize and adapt to this ever-changing environment will be the key to our future success. As CEO of PriceSpider , Anthony Ferry has utilized his comprehensive experience in the tech and sales industries to develop an innovative and passionate spirit within the PriceSpider culture. Under his leadership, the company has realized continuous year-over-year growth, while also maintaining focus on building sustainability for current and future employees. Prior to starting PriceSpider, Ferry was a co-founder of cloud and data-analytics leader Neudesic. Being a life-long learner over the last 20 years in executive roles has served Ferry well as he continues to acquire and refine skills that range from database design, software architecture and user-interface optimization. From operations to customer-centric strategies to sales and growth rates, Ferry monitors not just the day-to-day but also the big picture goals at PriceSpider.