Needs Tracked, Reported and Anticipated
Success in retail lies in having enough of the right product available for customers that are searching for it, without having so much overheard that cost outweighs revenue. Finding the right balance requires that retailers have straightforward access to essential data in a way that is usable. One such way is via an ERP, which helps to connect the different operations of your business while simultaneously finding better ways to do them and keeping track of all of it. By having an ERP, retailers can get a whole view of the different functions of their business and a better understanding of the different pieces - ultimately leading to better decisions and a better customer experience.
There are three broad processes in your retail business that stand to benefit from the implementation of an ERP: tracking, reporting, and anticipating. In this post, we’re going to look at each of these processes and specifically how an ERP can simplify them for better end results. It is also important to remember that ERPs are often built to fulfill the needs of a certain industry, so be sure that you select one designed with your specific needs in mind.
Fundamentally one of the best things about having an ERP is that it can eliminate a relative mountain of manual tracking and data entry (and minimizes the errors related to these processes). It not only can track its own internal processes that are going on between essential business functions but also those of your goods and employees - getting you information about literally every single aspect of your business.
Some of the major benchmarks to track include:
- Consumer engagement
- Promotional impact
- Supply chain and distribution costs
Remember that you can also customize your ERP to track for certain actions, variables, KPI’s, as needed for your business.
Now that you’ve got all this data collected, it needs to be turned into something useful, right? Your business intelligence (BI) solution will be key here in order to support informed decision making by taking all of the aforementioned data, giving it context, and producing a single version of truth. ERP and BI functions go hand-in-hand as your BI software takes the data that your ERP has collected, analyzes it, and presents it in the form of dashboards and reports that are easily understood.
Sometimes, companies end up skipping BI integration on the premise of reducing costs or because it is viewed as a peripheral action. This is very much not the case, and BI should be part of any ERP implementation from the very beginning, if better planning is the driving force behind the decision to choose an ERP.
What’s the point of all of this tracking and reporting if you can’t use it to do something useful, like making better decisions and anticipating things to come?
The combination of ERP and BI means that you can complete accurate predictive analyses based on actual data and the KPIs that you have set for yourself. The beauty of this setup is that many of the processes necessary to create the right reports can be automated - sometimes to the point of not needing to have an actual ‘decision maker’ to make choices. After all, sometimes a machine who isn’t subject to human whims is the better option for making a quantitative analysis and decision.
One example of how this can manifest in retail in particular is by being able to track and anticipate potential problems with your suppliers. This works because by keeping constant track of which suppliers are consistent in pricing and quality, you can see the signs early on if a supplier is having difficulties and make the necessary changes before running out of inventory.
Using the reports and data will provide a very broad image of your overall business functions, but don’t forget the power of having conversations with your actual customers. Social media is one of the best places to learn what they’re talking about and their attitudes towards your brand. By including social monitoring as part of your strategy for anticipating new needs, you can build in something of a ‘human’ factor in a very data-driven situation.
Choosing the right ERP can be daunting, but the end results make any initial uncertainties well worth it. By combining the functionalities of BI with your ERP you can get usable data, reports, and dashboards that can be used to make informed and balanced decisions in the future.
Wondering how else an ERP could help you and what you should expect? Write to us at email@example.com to get 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.