Connecting the Goods and the People
Ultimately, the biggest goal of any retailer is to ensure that their customers have access to the products when and where they want them. For this to occur, it’s necessary to have effective data management and sharing solutions that enable employees to make intelligent decisions based on real information. One way to achieve this is by integrating various different processes in the form of an ERP solution.
Put broadly, an ERP serves to streamline all the different process and operations across your business into a single intuitive dashboard that your employees can access in real-time across locations. The signs that your company has outgrown your arrangement in its current form include:
- Multiple solutions in multiple locations, all handling different parts of your operation, all requiring attention, maintenance and employee training (think: switching tabs much?)
- Missing or incomplete data and analytics
- Slow or inaccurate accounting
And unfortunately, the final result of all of these things is that you end up missing the key goal of your retail business: to get products to customers.
Can an ERP Solve These Problems?
Yes. However, this not to saying that any existing IT infrastructure is obsolete; in many cases when implemented correctly, an ERP can complement existing solutions such as Office 365 or SQL servers. For this reason, choosing a knowledgeable and experienced partner for your implementation is key (this is particularly true when it comes to avoiding data loss and disruption along the way). They can also be integral in ensuring the ongoing comfort and understanding of your employees that will be working within the new solution.
One of the first and most obvious benefits to an ERP is that it greatly simplifies your processes. The benefits here for your employees will be felt across departments but do keep in mind that some may initially be uncomfortable with the amount of tracking and reporting that an ERP can facilitate. This can often be alleviated by creating opportunities to liaise with employees and receive their feedback.
Another major benefit is new and better access to data and analytics; leading to a deep understanding of how the different parts of your business come together and how you can improve for the future. Key business intelligence features such as data cubes and access to standard, ad hoc and analytical reports are essential for data-driven decisions.
Choosing the Right ERP for your Business
Retailers face unique problems that many other industries don’t even have to consider, ranging from merchandising, to transportation logistics and just about everything in between. The part that makes it tricky is that if any one of these operations becomes siloed or starts to have problems, it will have a ripple effect across all facets of your business in a way that is greatly amplified when compared with other industries. Some retail-specific functions that your ERP should possess include POS integration, supply chain management, and merchandising, on top of core functions.
Another way that ERPs can be beneficial is with regards to your CRM and overall buying experience. Having the right ERP can greatly improve customer loyalty and engagement without placing major stressors on your customer service and outward facing marketing teams. Some efforts that ERPs can support include:
- Loyalty programs
- Personalized offers - in-store, online, and wherever the buyer may be
- After-sales support
- Social messaging and community management
- Channel and brand consistency
These in conjunction can greatly improve your overall buyer experience, contributing to increased loyalty and engagement.
Bringing together goods and customers in the best way possible can only be achieved via the seamless integration of the different parts of your retail business. An ERP can be a highly effective way to manage these processes in a way that can be easily accessed by the right decisions makers across locations and functions.
If you’re unsure of whether or not an ERP is the right choice for your business, make sure to contact us for your free consultation.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Systems Limited, or any other entity related to Systems Limited.