Retailers around the world are accelerating their digital transformation efforts. These efforts are being primarily driven by changes in consumer shopping behaviors.
To meet these new demands, retailers are increasingly focusing on creating dynamic, interactive customer experiences that build trust. From touchless services to merchandising optimization, retailers are turning to technology to digitize as much of the customer journey as possible.
Not only is digital transformation on the rise in this sector, but ERP implementation in the retail industry also is becoming more common. Retailers who don’t have access to robust technology, like ERP software, could soon be left behind.
Today, we’re taking a look at what retail leaders can gain from an ERP investment, and how they should go about selecting the right technology.
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ERP Implementation in the Retail Industry: Why it’s Beneficial
It’s no secret that today’s retail shopper is more discerning than ever before. They expect their favorite stores to know their preferences and anticipate their next move before they even make it.
They also expect to be able to seamlessly switch between different channels when engaging with a brand. From phone calls and emails to social media, customers want multiple ways to contact your company.
Considering this shift, it’s clear that relying on legacy technology and disparate systems means losing customers and missing out on new business. Retailers must streamline their in-house operations and automate their customer-facing efforts, while optimizing their mobile and social commerce.
Can you respond to a support inquiry as soon as it’s posted on social media? Are you set up to send automatic notifications as soon as a package hits a doorstep?
Just a decade ago, it wouldn’t be detrimental to your business if you lacked these capabilities, but times have changed. Now, nine out of ten shoppers want an omnichannel experience, with seamless service offered between each channel.
This is where ERP comes in. With a few clicks, customers can move seamlessly between channels and always have access to the information they require.
Meanwhile, internal stakeholders and executives are never too far from the mission-critical data they need to make informed decisions that drive omnichannel success.
Without an ERP system in place, it’s all too common for retailers to struggle with issues, such as:
- Disjointed pricing systems
- Disconnected store interfaces
- Inconsistent KPI tracking and oversight
However, with the right ERP system in place, you can avoid these issues and establish a foundation for implementing more technology down the road, such as an eCommerce platform.
One of the biggest benefits of ERP in the retail industry is improved merchandise management. A retail ERP platform can help you track products from the time you stock them until the day they sell.
Other core benefits include:
- Improved fulfillment control
- Optimized product shelf locations
- Accurate, up-to-date customer databases
All these improvements work together to move a modern retailer in the right direction. With improved visibility and insight into every facet of your supply chain, you empower your workforce to make decisions that lead to high customer satisfaction.
4 Features to Look for in Retail ERP Software
Not all ERP systems are industry-specific, so it’s important to carefully evaluate the functionality of each system you’re considering.
First and foremost, the system should fit your business needs and align with your desired future state, but this is true for any sector. If you want to find the right ERP system for the retail sector, in particular, you need to look for software with preconfigured industry best practices that enable you to standardize your operations and automate all the functions your competitors are automating.
Here are the top functions you should prioritize:
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
When an ERP system has robust CRM functionality, it provides a 360-degree view of your customers’ needs. You can associate buyers with different products, accounts, geographies, and more. Then, you can use this intel to create targeted campaigns that drive customer engagement and loyalty.
2. Supply Chain Management
Look for an ERP system that delivers insight into your supply chain at every turn. The system should provide real-time data that allows you to anticipate demand and keep stores well-stocked.
If possible, look for a system that includes distribution management capabilities to help you manage everything from ordering and purchasing to customer support.
3. Omnichannel Management
A retail ERP system should be able to deliver a seamless customer experience across every channel.
Look for data analysis tools that allow your team members to analyze past buyer behavior and predict where they might shop next, as well as which products they might be interested in. You should also make sure the system has personalization tools that allow you to cater your marketing messages to appeal to customer interests.
4. Financial Management
Budget planning is a major endeavor for any company, but it’s especially challenging in the retail sphere because there are multiple stakeholders to consider – from accountants to individual department managers.
Look for an ERP platform that can centralize all this activity, while controlling data access. Features such as profit tracking and risk management also are essential.
The Future of ERP in Retail
Retailers continue to make deep investments in tools and technologies that improve the customer experience. Software solutions, like ERP, are helping brands meet new customer demands through the use of advanced analytics and supply chain optimization.
Are you considering an ERP implementation in the retail industry? Our ERP consulting company can assist in the ERP selection and implementation process. Request a free consultation below to learn more.