Interview with David Hardeman
Hardeman leads CONTROLTEK’s client solution delivery team of installers, planners, engineers, and project managers who deploy various loss prevention solutions for its customers. With more than thirty years of experience in the security and life safety electronics, manufacturing, and retail support industries, Hardeman has implemented the latest and best processes, systems, and infrastructure pieces, elevating CONTROLTEK’s delivery capabilities to the highest in the industry.
What should a retailer look for in a solutions provider?
A solutions provider is not someone who just sells you products and/or services. When it comes to loss prevention, retailers need a solutions provider who takes the time to learn all about the client’s business and operations in order to recommend and implement a solution that helps the retailer reach its specific goals. The relationship between a retailer and its electronic article surveillance (EAS) provider isn’t just that of a client and a vendor; it’s a partnership that depends on trust and collaboration.
Building this partnership begins with the solutions provider asking the right questions to understand exactly what the retailer needs. Although a solutions provider may have a team of experts with many years of expertise in EAS technology, they may not truly know a client’s challenges until they conduct a comprehensive review with that client. From there, the solutions provider and retailer can effectively work together to achieve a solution that is customized to their business needs.
How can a retailer and a solutions provider collaborate throughout the process?
As there are really no true “one size fits all” LP solutions, retailers are seeking recommendations to decide upon the technology that best meets their requirements. Of course, there are many similar types of EAS options out there, but an effective EAS solution is customized to the retailer. The collaboration process starts from the very beginning when a retailer first reaches out about finding an EAS solution.
My approach in working with clients is using a “collaborative impact model,” to ask exploratory questions and structure a fact-finding mission. This provides all key team members an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the client’s business and their expectations of a successful program implementation.
From there, an agreed-upon program design is conducted with the retailer to map out the process for their customized EAS solution. This includes everything from evaluating site-survey details and ordering equipment to scheduling installation time frames and reviewing the project with all stakeholders along the way. By walking the client through the project and program process, we can create an all-inclusive plan to prepare for any potential issues before, during, and/or after the solution implementation.
What really makes a successful solutions provider and retailer relationship?
I don’t believe installation of the client’s solution is where the relationship between the solutions provider and client ends. Instead, maintaining a proactive approach to the retailer partnership keeps their goals and requirements at the forefront. It is important to continue to ask questions like, “What’s the next challenge?” and “How can we further support their LP needs and requirements?”
Most importantly, I believe a solutions provider who consistently follows up with the retailer to ensure their solution is meeting expectations will be in a position to continue to offer value-added support services. For example, providing routine monitoring of a retailer’s EAS system’s health allows prompt attention to any potential or actual system performance issues. Timely monitoring can also provide insight via status reports reflecting the current health and overall history of their system’s performance.
Furthermore, discovering a solutions provider who can provide additional benefits such as professional services, specialized training, and recommending or developing system enhancements can help ensure the solution is well received in the retailer’s environment. Continual optimization of the solution implementation is paramount to ongoing success.
Why should a retailer look to the future when considering their EAS investment?
It is especially important for solutions providers not only to look at a retailer’s current LP challenges but also to take a deep dive into their operations and potential risks, helping them look ahead into the future.
Enhanced knowledge and access to an array of LP technologies, from traditional EAS to emerging technologies like RFID and artificial intelligence (AI), is becoming more accessible and affordable every day, offering additional benefits to retailers.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced so many unanticipated changes for retailers of all sizes. One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to secure, distribute, and track products while shifting to omni-channel offerings like curbside pickup and BOPIS (buy online, pick up instore). This wasn’t just an LP issue but a challenge about inventory visibility as a whole. How could retailers protect their merchandise if they didn’t even know where it was? Throughout the pandemic, it became even more important to collaborate with retailers and clients in other industries to offer and implement RFID solutions designed to automate asset tracking and give them capability to better protect and monitor their inventory in real time.
What is your biggest piece of advice for a retailer to keep in mind when vetting out their next solutions provider?
By cultivating and maintaining a partnership with clients, a successful solutions provider delivers innovative and proven product and support offerings and consistently finds ways to get things done. The goal is always open and honest communications with client partners to meet today’s demands while preparing for tomorrow’s challenges.