Opening a retail business might seem easy - although it is growing more and more complex as the years go by and technologies advance. You can find articles on Google on 42 things you need to know in order to open a small retail business . Imagine how that number grows when the size of business increase - especially with an ever-demanding customer base who expect to shop in physical stores, on their mobile devices, and on the web through your e-commerce site. Such a broad specter of demand offers great business opportunities, although also adds extra complications to your daily operations. Many business, unfortunately, can't keep up with the pace of the changing world. Majority retailers still use multiple IT systems for different areas of their business, facing disharmony between those systems. If your inventory management software, your Point of Sale and your eCommerce systems are working as separate units, there's a big chance both you and your customer have to deal with outdated information and untrustworthy data.
What is an ERP system?
ERP - an abbreviation for Enterprise Resource Planning system, is a software that unifies your business process to assure the flow of data as a single source of truth, which helps you facilitate business processes throughout your entire organization. With a successful implementation of ERP system, you will be able to streamline operations, reduce costs, increase productivity and deliver an improved customer experience.
ERP simplifies retail management processes related to your stock (for example adding, categorizing, grouping items), implementing campaigns, managing and replenishing stock and much more. It can also be customized to meet the needs of your specific business and operational strategy.
Cloud and on-premises ERP
In the old days, most ERP's were hosted on the retailer's hardware and in-hours servers on the premises. The internal It team were responsible for system updates, maintenance, security and upgrades.
Today, modern ERP's have moved into the cloud. Cloud-based ERP (also called SaaS ERP) has multiple advantages over the older version of on-premises one:
- It is automatically updated and maintained by the ERP provider. Retailer does not need to install latest version or take care of upgrades manually.
- ERP Provider also takes care of security and legal compliance.
- There is no need for hardware and on-premise servers, so the cost of running services is eliminated - overall capital expenditure is much for a cloud-based ERP.
- Adding extra applications is easy, as new functionalities come as a self-service plug in.
Point of Sale
Point of Sale(POS) is a new term for the new generation cash registers. It is now electronic and does much more than just process sales - they handle various types of payment forms, track customer orders, support special promotions and can even suggest a personalized promotion to a specific customer based on their profile. Inventory management and update is also within the POS functionality range. On top of providing retailers with a more integrated way to manage their business, a modern POS offers a large number of tools to give customers better and faster service.
POS terminals nowadays can be stationary or even run on mobile devices, tablets. With a mobile POS, staff can complete a transaction anywhere in the store or even outside of it. These are very useful in temporary or outdoor facilities as well as very large stores - motor showrooms or garden centers. It is mandatory for a retailer to select an ERP system that can be seamlessly integrated to any POs system. These two systems have to communicate without disruption or delays, otherwise you risk costly mistakes and time wasted.
A good ERP system offers unlimited opportunities for efficiency, data analysis and reporting - you can measure performance against your KPI's, uncover new ways to increase profits or keep track on how well business is doing - all real time.
As a retailer, make sure you select an ERP that also comes with industry-specific functionalities and plug-ins that are vital for your business and assures easy integration to retail management system.