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Shelfware Syndrome: Paying for Unused Pricing Software?

January 31st, 2024 (Updated 02/02/2024) | 10 min. read

By Suzi Rodriguez

Pricing software is a powerful tool that can help businesses optimize their pricing strategies, streamline pricing operations, and respond swiftly to market changes. But after a pricing software purchase, occasionally there is a challenge that often lurks in the shadows—an issue that haunts companies and saps their investment: Shelfware Syndrome. Imagine a scenario where you have pricing software, excited about the promises it holds for greater revenue, profit maximization, and addressing your dwindling margins  However, after   you discover that a substantial chunk of its features lies dormant, gathering metaphorical dust on your digital shelf. It is a situation more common than you might think.

At Pricefx, we have more than a decade’s worth of experience of standing at the forefront of the pricing industry helping our customers to boost profits and growth. Of course, part of that process is concerned with ensuring our clients make the absolute most of the innovative pricing software we provide them with. For us to succeed, it is critical that you do too.

In this article, we will explain exactly what Shelfware Syndrome is, the cost of not using the software you have paid for, the ‘worst’ possible pricing software features to remain dormant and how to break free of shelfware syndrome for your pricing software.

What is Shelfware Syndrome?

Shelfware Syndrome occurs when businesses purchase sophisticated pricing software laden with a plethora of features but fail to leverage these functionalities to their fullest potential. In essence, it’s paying for a tool that is not fully utilized, akin to buying a cookbook for just one recipe. This phenomenon can be pervasive across industries, leaving companies potentially grappling with the aftermath of overspending on software they do not fully employ, missing out on the value it could bring.

The Spark Behind Shelfware Syndrome

The genesis of Shelfware Syndrome often lies in the allure of feature-rich software. Pricing solutions frequently come adorned with a dazzling array of capabilities—dynamic pricing, segmentation algorithms, advanced analytics, and more. The prospect of having an all-encompassing tool that can seemingly tackle every pricing challenge is enticing.

However, the reality often diverges from this all-in-one utopia. One of the primary culprits behind this syndrome is the mismatch between expectation and implementation. Companies are often bedazzled by the extensive feature list during the sales pitch, envisaging transformative changes and increased efficiency across their pricing strategies. However, the gap arises when these functionalities fail to seamlessly integrate into existing workflows or meet the specific needs of the organization. What follows is an underutilized tool that doesn’t quite align with the company’s reality.

Moreover, the complexity of some advanced features might render them cumbersome or challenging to implement without adequate training or dedicated personnel to navigate and harness their potential. The software sits idle, waiting for someone to unravel its complexities and put it to work. Consequently, a cycle emerges—investment without yield, potential without realization, and features without utility.

The Cost of Dormant Pricing Software Features

The financial implications of Shelfware Syndrome can be staggering. Consider the substantial capital spent on acquiring the software, often accompanied by additional costs for maintenance, updates, and support. Yet, when these features remain untapped, the return on investment (ROI) plummets. The funds that could have been allocated elsewhere, contributing to innovation or growth initiatives, instead lie dormant within the confines of unutilized software features.

While we don’t have exact figures on under-utilizing pricing software, we can tell you how much it costs in doing nothing at all and sticking with your old legacy pricing system.  To learn more about ‘The Cost of Inertia” (the cost of doing nothing vs the cost of fully implementing and utilizing pricing software), check out the handy video below:

Beyond the direct monetary losses, the opportunity cost also looms large. Businesses miss out on the strategic advantages, improved efficiency, and competitive edges promised by these sophisticated tools. The time spent vetting, selecting, and onboarding the software—resources that could have been channeled into optimizing the utilized functionalities—are instead locked into underused capabilities.

The 3 Possible Worst Pricing Software Features to Remain Dormant

When discussing the three possible worst pricing software features that companies could ignore and lay dormant in their usage, it is important to consider the reasons behind their neglect, and therefore, critical to understand how to avoid the pitfalls of underutilization.

  1. Dynamic Pricing Models: Surprisingly, dynamic pricing models, often touted as the crown jewel of many pricing software suites, are among the most neglected features. The complexities and nuances associated with implementing and fine-tuning these models frequently deter companies from unleashing their potential. The lack of expertise in adjusting these models to align with the constantly changing market dynamics or customer behaviors often results in their dormancy. Additionally, for some businesses operating in less volatile markets, the perceived complexity may outweigh the perceived benefits, leading to underutilization.
  2. Advanced Analytics and Reporting: Despite their potential to offer deep insights into customer behavior, market trends, pricing strategies, and plugging margin gaps, advanced analytics tools often languish in obscurity. The challenge lies in interpreting and harnessing the wealth of data these tools generate. Without a robust data analytics team or the skills to decipher these analytics, companies struggle to derive actionable insights. The absence of clarity on how to translate these insights into practical strategies often relegates these analytics features to the shelf.

3.  AI-Informed Price Optimization: AI-driven price optimization tools, designed to analyze a multitude of factors and recommend optimal pricing strategies, often find themselves collecting digital dust. The      complexity of these algorithms and the need for continuous recalibration to remain effective can intimidate businesses. Moreover, the fear of automated decision-making overriding human judgment, or the lack of              trust in AI-informed pricing strategies, can potentially lead to hesitancy in deploying these tools to their fullest extent.

The choice of what are the “worst” dormant features can indeed vary based on an organization’s specific business objectives, market nuances, or even the skill sets available within the company. For some, the aforementioned features might be the ones least aligned with their immediate needs or the ones that demand resources they currently lack. However, irrespective of the specific features, understanding why certain functionalities remain idle is crucial for companies to reevaluate their utilization strategies and bridge the gap between potential and practicality.

Breaking Free of Shelfware Syndrome

Strategizing your shelfware syndrome escape plan requires a deliberate and calculated approach—a meticulous plan to breathe life into dormant features and transform your pricing software into a robust asset. To embark on this journey, businesses need to undertake a comprehensive assessment including, but not limited to the following:

  1. Feature Audit and Prioritization: Conduct an in-depth analysis of the software’s capabilities vis-a-vis your company’s needs. Identify features that align with your current strategies and goals. Prioritize functionalities that promise tangible value or resolve existing pain points.
  2. Internal Alignment and Training: Engage cross-functional teams to understand their specific requirements and pain points. Provide comprehensive training to equip your workforce with the skills needed to leverage these features effectively. Collaboration and alignment across departments are crucial to ensure the software serves diverse needs.
  3. Configuration and Integration: Tailor the software to fit your organization’s workflows and processes. Work closely with the software provider to streamline integration and customization. The goal is to create a seamless ecosystem where the software complements existing operations without causing disruption.
  4. Continuous Evaluation and Optimization: Implement a system for continuous evaluation of feature utilization. Regularly assess the efficacy of deployed functionalities and adjust strategies based on their performance. This iterative process ensures that the software evolves in tandem with the company’s changing needs.
  5. Engage with Your Provider (Pricing Software Vendor) and or Partner: Establish an ongoing dialogue with your pricing software vendor and/or strategy/implementation partner. Seek their guidance on maximizing the software’s potential. Providers often offer valuable insights, updates, or best practices that can enhance your utilization of the tool.
  6. Outcome Measurement and Accountability: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to the utilization of software features. Track these metrics diligently to gauge the software’s impact and ensure accountability within the organization for feature adoption.
  7. A Culture of Innovation and Adaptability: Foster a culture that embraces innovation and change. Encourage experimentation and continuous learning within your teams. A culture that values adaptation will naturally gravitate towards optimizing and leveraging new features.

How Pricefx Helps You Avoid Shelfware Syndrome

As part of the Pricefx Training Program, businesses can opt to participate in the Adoption Package. Specifically designed for those organizations that chose not to undertake project-specific training, the Adoption Training package is an invaluable resource for organizations opting out of project-specific training or seeking to expand their utilization of Pricefx pricing software within their operations. This training aims to enhance acceptance, utilization, and comprehension of the technology.

For new users, it’s strategic to plan Adoption Training post their Technical Go Live, enabling a seamless transition to Business Go Live among Pricefx system end-users. The process kicks off with a discovery session involving key stakeholders to identify existing gaps and challenges in utilizing Pricefx, shaping the training to effectively address these issues.

The training plan derived from the discovery session encompasses several components: general training to understand Pricefx’s overall capabilities, personalized sessions focusing on existing customer solutions with practical exercises, the creation of user guides for easy reference and training materials for new users, and the potential addition of specialized administrative training to establish internal support levels. This comprehensive approach aims to bridge any operational gaps and empower users to make the most of Pricefx within their organization.

To learn more about everything included in Pricefx Training, check out the handy article below:


The Escape Route To Optimal Pricing Software Utilization

As discussed above, Shelfware Syndrome does not need to be a chronic affliction. With a proactive approach and a concerted effort, companies can break free from the constraints of underutilized pricing software features. It is not just about investing in technology; it is about extracting the maximum value from that investment.

The path to liberation involves a strategic reassessment, an alignment of features with business objectives, and a commitment to unlocking the latent potential within the software. By fostering a culture of exploration and innovation, companies can transform their pricing software from a shelfware relic into a dynamic and integral tool that fuels growth, innovation, and competitive advantage.

In the ever-evolving landscape of pricing strategies and technologies, the key to thriving lies not in the abundance of features but in the strategic deployment and optimal utilization of those features.

But what If your business does not have the time nor internal expertise to dust off those dormant capabilities? You might want to consider reinvigorating your pricing strategy and charting a course towards a more efficient and value-driven future with high quality enterprise level pricing software like Pricefx and the assistance of a pricing software partner.

For those wanting to learn more about why working with a pricing software partner like those involved in the Pricefx Advantage Network can be beneficial in making the most out of your pricing software purchase, check out this handy article below:


Meanwhile, Happy Pricing!

Suzi Rodriguez

Solution Strategist , Pricefx

Suzi Rodriguez has a decade of expertise in pricing management and strategy in the manufacturing and distribution fields. Currently she's a Solution Strategist, a role in which she applies her expertise to assist businesses in optimizing their pricing strategies and guide them in the best path to implement pricing software. Her background is rich with diverse experiences, from leading new pricing software integrations to working through ERP migrations. Outside the hustle and bustle of work, Suzi is a dedicated mom to two boys, an avid reader, and loves to travel to places with rich histories.