As e-commerce continues to mature, more and more consumers have begun to treat online shopping as their preferred retail channel. If you asked someone (especially if they’re under 40) to imagine a typical shopping experience, there’s an increasing chance that their thoughts will feature a virtual shopping cart, digital wallet, or same-day delivery. These days, leading retailers cannot afford to give their digital channels lower priority than their physical retail locations. An ERP platform can ensure that all of your sales channels operate on an equal footing.
ERP systems improve efficiency by centrally managing all of your retail channels and allowing them to share vital business information. The biggest multichannel advantages offered by ERP solutions include:
Faster, cross-channel order fulfillment
Order fulfillment teams that rely on manual actions are extremely inefficient. They might use paper records or spreadsheet software to keep track of orders, and contact suppliers and logistics firms by email or phone. Each of these separate activities creates an opportunity to make a mistake, and makes the fulfillment process harder to track. ERP platforms replace this complex collection of business actions with a single, efficient solution that generates its own audit trail. Automated dynamic workflows determine the requirements of each order and send information and instructions to all relevant personnel.
By consolidating business activities across all retail channels, ERP systems reduce the time and effort required to process each order, and even enables order fulfillment options that are simply too complex for manual processing. Retailers that use modern ERP systems allow customers to pay online and pick up their purchased items from the retail location of their choice, return online purchases in-store, and several other cross-channel services that enhance their shopping experience.
Omni-channel inventory automation
Operating across multiple locations and geographical regions poses a significant challenge for large retail chains. Similarly, companies that offer multiple fulfillment options increase the complexity of their day-to-day logistics. Manually tracking and managing stock levels across locations is incredibly imprecise, with updates occurring on a daily or even weekly basis. This makes replenishment inefficient, and forces retailers to carry higher product quantities to avoid out-of-stocks.
ERP solutions vastly improve retail profitability and operational efficiency by allowing retailers to maintain stock levels that closely match actual customer demand. A single, consistent, company-wide record of all sellable inventory improves your omni-channel customer experience – if a product is available, say, on your online store, then it will also be available via mobile app or telephone shopping. In this way, retailers avoid the complications associated with managing separate inventories for each channel.
Universal customer records
Managing each retail channel independently leads to inconsistent and incomplete customer records. If an online shopper purchases or returns an item, store associates and call center reps would have no way of accessing the customer’s transaction history, which would severely restrict their ability to provide assistance or resolve issues.
ERP systems act as a centralized store for all customer information that is updated instantly whenever the customer makes a purchase, return, calls your support center, or accesses your customer web portal or online store. This helps you create a consistent and personalized experienced for each shopper, and also gives you a much more complete picture of their purchasing preferences. These consumer analytics are an invaluable source of information, and can significantly improve your product development, sourcing, and marketing efforts.
Accurate, real-time information
Improved accuracy is a major advantage of ERP platforms that cuts across all business processes. Having all of your business information in one application eliminates the need to transcribe information from one platform to another, which is a major source of error. Information that is entered once can be accessed by any other department or business process that needs it. Any transactions or shipping and receiving activities that take place are logged in the system in real time, preventing inconsistency across channels, departments, or physical locations. With a single version of the truth, your personnel no longer have to wonder whether their stock levels or sales figures haven’t been updated yet.
On one hand, employing large teams to process orders and maintain paper records is expensive. On the other, relying on a smaller workforce will result in extremely low fulfillment rates, which impacts revenue. In both cases, using manual processes impacts profitability.
ERP solutions improve your organization’s bottom line by improving productivity while simultaneously reducing labor costs. Thanks to automated workflows and delay-free communication, retailers can process more orders and ship more products per hour. Managing all of your channels centrally also helps control costs, since you don’t have to maintain separate IT systems for each channel, and it takes less time to manage channel information. As mentioned above, ERP systems also improve data accuracy, which helps prevent costly mistakes and business risk.
ERP systems give your customers a superior buying experience, and help your employees provide better customer service by providing a seamless experience across all retail channels. Choosing a technology implementation partner with extensive experience in the retail industry is the best way to ensure that your ERP implementation complements your existing business processes and scales well as your business grows. A retail-savvy technology partner will deliver an industry-specific solution on an accelerated schedule, which means that you’ll begin seeing results sooner. An implementation partner’s level of industry familiarity also reduces the chance of business disruption, missed deadlines, or going over budget. To discover the ERP solution and implementation strategy that aligns best with your business objectives, please contact Visionet Systems to schedule a complimentary consultation session.