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How Your ERP and CRM Solutions Can Keep You Relevant as a Retailer
28th October 2018
Integrating ERP and CRM in Retail

Retail is an inherently disruption prone business that seems to evolve to a new paradigm every few years. A look at the shift in trends and business models within the industry – over several decades – will confirm a constant evolution in business strategies as well as customer behaviour. Recent years have seen significant churning within the retail industry – across brick and mortar as well as online segments – that has seen the downfall of many who weren’t able to adapt. ERP and CRM solutions offer retail enterprises the means to gain advantages that can significantly increase their chances of remaining relevant within a constantly transforming business.

Online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal has projected a global retail growth of 3.4% for the year 2018. That would make this the strongest rate of growth since 2011 – even longer, if one were to discard the statistically larger growth percentages due to the rebounding market, in the three or so after the 2008 economic crises. Given the generally subdued retail performance of recent years, this is a conspicuous opportunity for businesses and making the most of this upswing a particularly crucial outcome.

Success in retail requires insights into both internal processes as well as customer facing functions

Traditional thinking has often stressed one of either ERP or CRM solutions as the primary tool driving digital transformation and actionable insights. For instance, sales and marketing oriented businesses have often leant on CRM solutions preferentially, to gain a better understanding of – and enhanced relationship with – their customers, as the basis for business optimization. Manufacturing business might, on the other hand, place an emphasis on ERP solutions as the tool to create competitive advantage. Emerging trends in customer behaviour and the highly competitive nature of the industry, however, suggest that the most proactive approach for retail enterprises might be a conjoined and complementary deployment of both ERP and CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a solution that enhances retail businesses through an effective integration of CRM and ERP solutions with cloud technology – leveraging multi-platform and multi-channel access to deliver consistently high quality and agile management capabilities.

Integrating ERP and CRM can deliver the operational advantage that retailers are looking for

As a customer centric industry, retail can often simplistically be perceived as largely dependent on customer engagement alone. However, as any longstanding retail professional will confirm, efficiencies derived from a proactive control over finance and processes can be the crucial differentiating factor between a successful business and a sub-optimal operation. Some of the crucial advantages that a well integrated deployment of ERP and CRM delivers include:

  • Centralized control- Whether keeping track of loyalty points, orders or financial parameters, retail is a particularly data dense business. Creating comprehensive records, contextualized by relationships and dependencies, is one of the most significant advantages that an integrated set of tools can deliver.
  • Inventory and supply chain management- Orders, requisitions, quotes and stocktaking are only some of the many critical bits of data that need to be addressed and interpreted seamlessly, for a successful retail business to function effectively.
  • Coherent marketing and merchandizing- Your business needs to be constantly aware of the leeway it has to create special offers, merchandizing and marketing campaigns. Retailers are highly dependent on being able to reconcile these parameters with emerging customer behaviours, in order to create brand value.
  • Consistency across channels- Being able to create a relationship with customers fundamentally depends on the ability to project a consistent and coherent brand narrative across multiple channels of interaction. While the more apparent aspect of this capability is customer focused, these initiatives need to be reconciled with internal process as well, for maximum effect.
  • Data driven decision making- Big data analytics can be the differentiator that allows enterprises the ability to address customer expectations, set KPIs and ensure competitive pricing – among numerous other crucial decisions. Retail has always been about identifying and exploiting margins and data driven insights can make the difference between success and failure.

Conclusion

Effectively integrating ERP and CRM provides businesses with a comprehensive overview of the organization, resulting in insights that can help rationalize business processes. Coherent and well structured information – that eliminates duplication and successfully identifies definitive data – leads to optimal performance across systems. Orienting internal process and customer facing initiatives into one cohesive organization is especially crucial in an industry as competitive as retail.

To understand how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help your business operate to its optimum potential, please reach out to us at marketing@levtechconsulting.com.

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