Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems first became widely used in the manufacturing industry. However, the business management opportunities offered by ERP systems quickly spread to other industries, and retail is one of them. Internet shopping websites have significantly changed the way retail operates. You need technology to keep up with industry changes. However, you need to be careful in the selection process to achieve the flexibility and agility that come with an effective ERP system.
Retail ERP systems should help you manage your retail business end-to-end, based on your specific needs. Most ERP software for retail consists of a central core that provides the backbone for the system, and that interfaces with a variety of modules designed for specific purposes. There are five basic modules that you should consider in your selection process.
Head office operations need to be part of your ERP. An accounting module supports bookkeeping and financial record keeping that interfaces with your other business functions including sales, purchasing, inventory management, warehousing and point of sale.
Advantages: You won't create separate silos of information, and you'll have an organization wide view of your operations. You'll be able to access reports in real-time, which will give you an advanced level of agility in your business decision making.
2. Point of Sale
Point of sale (POS) systems need to be much more than just a cash register. Today's consumer is demanding higher levels of customer service in-store. Customers don't want to wonder if you have an item in stock. In addition, they don't want to stand in a long line to make a purchase.
A POS that is an integral part of your ERP will let you provide store personnel with more information than ever before, including inventory levels and product details. You can upgrade your level of customer service by giving your staff real-time access to customer information, and even the ability to process a purchase.
Advantages: An integrated POS system lets you personalize your interaction with your customers when you know their name and shopping history, for example. Besides that, you can quickly answer their most pressing questions and help them avoid lines with POS functionality that operates on mobile devices used by in-store personnel.
3. Warehouse Management
Managing a warehouse is no longer an isolated task. To support customer service and management decisions, an integrated module can do wonders.
Advantages: With one scan of a barcode, you can update inventory levels, sales channels and financial reports. The same holds true whether you're receiving inventory, shipping it, or doing an inventory count.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
When your CRM is accessible throughout the organization and in the POS system at the store level, your ability to provide exceptional customer service skyrockets, along with your business planning capabilities.
Advantages: Your store personnel can upsell based on a customer's buying history, or smooth over a strained relationship based on knowing about an earlier problem the customer had to address.
Companies using data and customer analytics in effective ways show increased productivity and profitability. According to researchers, companies that put data at the center of marketing efforts improve their ROI by 15 to 20 percent.
From a marketing and management perspective, you can use analytics to delve into overall buying habits and a wide variety of other information that will inform marketing strategies and business decisions.
5. Ecommerce Portal
It's a fact of life that virtually every brick and mortar retailer needs an omnichannel approach to its business. It's critical to create an ecommerce presence online. Some in the retail industry are trying to battle ecommerce-only businesses like Amazon, while others are satisfying customer expectations by making it easy for their customers to make purchases anytime, anywhere.
Advantages: When you incorporate ecommerce with your ERP, you start creating a omnichannel approach to marketing and business management. Your ERP system can track ecommerce transactions as easily as those in the store, and update inventory and CRM modules at the same time. Your marketing department can consider buying patterns by store, ecommerce, or a combination.
A discussion of the various modules of a retail ERP system can tend to put emphasis on the individual capabilities. However, the real power of a retail ERP system is the overall interaction of all the modules, when you can:
- Streamline financial management by review accounting, sales and purchasing data organization-wide
- Meet customer expectations and increase loyalty
- Manage inventory across warehouses and channels
- Optimize your purchasing process
- Empower management and employees to answer questions in real-time that will produce better business decisions.
Many experts agree that the key to retail success in the future is to put the customer in the center of the business. One thing that is holding retailers back from achieving that success is the information silos that exist in a traditional retail infrastructure. The time has come for retailers to step up to the challenge.
With flexible retail ERP software that you can customize to your requirements, the opportunity exists to meet the challenge. If you're ready to position your organization for success in the future, you can get an expert evaluation of what a retail ERP system could do for your business. Contact us today for more information.