ERPs, E-commerce and Integration: The Recipe for Retail Success
In other words, for retailers to be truly successful, they must have a strong ecommerce strategy to optimize in-store efforts.
Aren’t my Existing Stores Enough?
Let’s say a buyer visits one of your retail locations, but that one in particular doesn’t have the item in stock. After contacting a few other locations, you finally locate the item and offer to have it shipped - by which time, your customer has already found the same product online from a different vendor and has ordered it in less than the time it took you to call around to your different locations.
This raises two major points:
- You must have some form of ecommerce
- It must also be mobile
Now imagine the same scenario - except where you have an up-to-date and user-friendly website and mobile site (that of course, is communicating in ‘real time’ with the rest of your back-end supply chain). This time, you can still save the sale by proposing that they check your website to see if it’s available online and can be shipped - without having to try another location.
How Can I Have the Most Effective Ecommerce Solution?
In order to be effective, your solution must be wholly integrated. This means that there are no barriers between the actions of your ecommerce sites and your supply chain operations. One way to do this is by interfacing, or creating bridges between different platforms and applications that use a standard file format, such as XML, to move information between systems. This method can be effective for many as it requires lesser investment and allows companies to get the most from their existing infrastructure. However, it has limitations in its functionality and customization - meaning that it isn’t always the best long-term arrangement.
A better way to integrate your e-commerce with the rest of your business is through an ERP solution. As ERP not only brings end-to-end operational data and activity on a single platform, but also intuitively prepares the data for analysis and reporting, making it an extremely effective way to manage operations seamlessly- regardless of location or channel. You will have the ability to quickly view information such as inventory levels, sales and supply chain activities in real time, accurately and in an easily accessible manner.
Another benefit of integrating an ecommerce channel with your ERP solution comes from superior shopping experiences, online and in-store, that help you stand out from your major online competitors and offline. Some practical examples of this include:
- Bespoke emails, texts, surveys
- Customer loyalty programs
- In-store promotions
- Location-based, or beacon, personalized marketing efforts
Having these ‘extra’ interactions also allows you to gather more information about your customers buying patterns and perceptions about your brand, which you can then use to create right products and promote them at the right places and time, to the right people.
It’s clear that having ecommerce for your retail business is important - but it is not enough. To fully unlock your business potential, it is necessary to bring your ecommerce and your operations together to be able create a distinctive buying experience and boost productivity by streamlining all channels. While making this decision, it is critical to evaluate the potential technology partners in terms of their industry and technical expertise in both retail and ecommerce operations - in addition to their thorough understanding of the solution at hand.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to take your retail and ecommerce operations to the next level, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. Send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
In search of ideas for how to take your retail business to the next level in 2018 by eliminating inefficiencies and creating unique buying experiences? For ideas and strategies, check out our free e-book Unified Operations for Retail Growth today!
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.