The past couple of decades have seen massive transformations in the retail industry—from purely brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping, to dynamic and innovative customer experiences in both online and physical spaces. And those are just the changes the average shopper can see. Digital transformation behind the scenes, affecting how businesses run and grow their retail operations, has been even more rapid and impactful.
Of course, it is the shoppers themselves, and the changes in their habits and behaviors, that drive these changes. And as society and technology evolve, things will continue to change in the retail landscape.
Retail businesses need the best tools available to them to help them adapt to these changes and ride to success, instead of being overwhelmed by them. And one of the most important tools out there is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
Explore ERP Software for Consumer Packaged Goods & Retail Companies
What ERP Can Do for Your Retail Operations
ERP solutions integrate every aspect and process of running a business into a single platform. This includes everything from inventory management and purchasing to human resources and customer service, along with everything else in between. When a retail business adopts ERP, there are certain specific benefits it stands to gain:
1. Better Planning
Integrating all these processes allows for a much more holistic view of a business’s operations, which in turn provides invaluable help in budgeting, forecasting, and planning the business’s future. With ERP in place, every function reports to a single unified system, which in turn produces accurate reports and analytics at any time that lets you compare functionality across departments easily. No need to juggle multiple spreadsheets and collate reams and reams of documents and emails.
2. Reduced Operational Costs
According to research by sellecthub.com, implementing an ERP system can reduce a business’s operational costs by up to 23 percent and administration costs by up to 22 percent.
It does this in a number of ways.
For instance, paperwork is reduced and routine tasks are optimized because the platform provides a central source of real-time information. Logistics, stock and supply management, and other activities that involve lots of information requests and approvals are also accelerated. Even manual labor and inventory carrying costs can be reduced by managing inventory more efficiently.
3. Added Efficiency
Greater efficiency all around is another benefit ERP can bring to businesses. No more repetitively entering data manually when data collection is so much more streamlined and straightforward. These and other tedious, time-consuming tasks can be almost completely eliminated.
4. Increased Automation
Productivity can also be increased when the time it takes to complete tasks and projects is reduced. Repeated processes can be automated, freeing you and your employees to move on and get even more things done even quicker. And any business owner knows that high productivity can be the edge that allows them to succeed over their competitors.
5. Enhanced Customer Service
Customer service and customer relationship management depend greatly on data. No customer wants to be kept waiting while service representatives go hunting for their information.
ERP’s centralized data storage system makes all sales and customer information available and instantly accessible to customer service agents, sales managers, and business owners alike. Also, more efficient order and inventory management lead to better on-time delivery and accuracy—all of which will lead to happier and more loyal customers.
What a Retail Business Should Look for in an ERP Solution
There are several different ERP solutions out there competing for your dollar, and if you’re adopting this technology for the first time, pretty much any of them will bring you the benefits we mentioned above. However, if you want to make a smarter choice for your retail business, you’ll want to look out for a few key features.
A dedicated customer relationship management (CRM) module should be one of your top priorities. This is especially important for retailers, so you’ll know you’re getting an ERP that’s suited to your needs if it comes with robust CRM functionality. With it, creating targeted campaigns that drive customer loyalty and engagement becomes much easier.
Supply chain management is another process that is key for retail companies, and an ERP solution that delivers real-time insight into your supply chain is the one to go for. Even better would be one that includes distribution management capabilities as well.
Another feature that’s good to have is the seamless management of multiple customer experience channels. Tools that allow you to analyze past buyer data and predict future behavior will come in very handy for retailers.
Finally, financial management is a key consideration for any company, but it’s especially challenging for retail businesses due to the multiple stakeholders involved, ranging from department managers to accountants. ERP that can centralize this process and control access to this data would be highly advantageous, as would other features such as risk management and profit tracking.
ERP has proven to be a huge boon to practically every sector on the planet, and retail is no exception. The beauty of it is how well it automates the basic functions of every business so that any company can benefit from it. The value ERP brings to companies and to retailers, in particular, makes it well worth the investment.
Learn more about how Navigator can help retailers make this transition.