Purely brick-and-mortar retail is quickly becoming the exception, not the rule. A growing number of customers have embraced the convenience of online stores, which allow them to compare products and make buying decisions in minutes instead of having to visit multiple physical stores. 81 percent of millennials use mobile devices for daily product research. In response to these trends, retailers are attempting to stimulate sales by adopting eCommerce and expanding to other channels.
However, each new channel that retailers add increases their supply chain complexity. They need modern digital tools to consolidate all channel data and make well-informed enterprise-wide decisions. Many retail organizations have chosen to integrate their ERP system with each of their sales channels to create a centralized record of all transactions, customers, and products. However, there are several clear advantages to choosing an integration solution designed specifically for the retail industry over general-purpose application integration platforms.
Here are some built-in capabilities of retail integration solutions that a generic integration platform would need customization to achieve:
1. Consistency across retail channels
Businesses are now moving towards unified customer experiences. Retail-specific integration solutions allow product definitions in your ERP platform to be imported and used by other systems, including your point-of-sale (POS) and eCommerce solution. This ensures that you have the same range of products across all your sales channels, and that these products are priced and discounted consistently.
2. Omnichannel fulfillment
Retail integration solutions provide support for buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) omnichannel fulfillment, which allows customers to purchase a product using one channel and receive it using a different channel. For example, they could buy an item at a retail location and have it delivered to their home, or they could buy it online and choose to pick it up at a nearby retail store. The retail-specific integrator facilitates store availability searches by ZIP code and shares store pickup details between systems.
3. Inventory visibility
By regularly synchronizing inventory information across channels and platforms, retail integration solutions provide an accurate picture of product availability. Organizations can even combine specific warehouses and stores into fulfillment groups to simplify supply chain management.
4. Customer profile integration
With a retail-specific integration solution, your ERP system can share customer information with your online store and other platforms. Customer information will remain consistent and prevent duplicate records across physical and digital channels. This information can be used to create and track sales orders, and simplifies the management of loyalty programs.
5. Unified loyalty programs
With customer, pricing, and discount information centralized in your ERP system, a retail integration solution makes it easy to run a unified rewards program. Coupons, gift cards, and loyalty points can be collected and redeemed across all channels, which creates a better customer experience and higher retention rates than a channel-specific loyalty program.
6. Payment integrations
By providing preconfigured integration with major payment service providers, a retail-specific integration solution improves time to value. Using a single integration solution for payment processing, order fulfillment, customer information, and product inventory offers higher performance and lower operating costs than relying on multiple integrators.
7. Support for multiple languages and currencies
Retail integration solutions are designed for global retail operations. They include support for managing multiple languages and currencies, which allows you to quickly establish physical or online stores in new geographical regions.
Integration solutions designed for the retail industry provide a wealth of features out of the box that would require several months of expensive customization to achieve using general-purpose integration platforms. CommerceLink by Visionet is a scalable and adaptable integration solution used by numerous international retailers. To learn more about the power of retail-specific integration, please contact Visionet.