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Breaking Down the Silos – The Importance of Integration for Retail
29th October 2017

Bringing together operations across your different processes is one of the biggest keys to retail success. It can be achieved via real-time updates and by creating a seamless flow of information across departments. This can help businesses to engage and retain the maximum number of customers possible.

How Can I Bring my Operations Together?

We’ve known for decades about the importance of facilitating the seamless flow of information across departments to improve internal processes and for a better final result. Retail in particular is no stranger to this and strategies for success have evolved to meet the standards of the increasingly well-informed buyer who is just a few clicks away from almost limitless options. However, for many businesses, the process of creating such an expansive and yet centralized environment can appear daunting; which sometimes, it is.

One of the biggest ways to ‘break down the silos’ between different operations is via an ERP. Put simply, ERP stands for ‘enterprise resource planning’ and is a solution that enables all of the different facets of your business to be integrated and connected in a manner that is centralized and highly accessible. However, as there are many different moving parts to both businesses and the successful implementation of an ERP solution, companies can be reluctant to make the transition. This is especially true when considering that the ERP must not only be functioning now, but have the capacity to evolve with the growing and changing needs for your business.

Implementation Expectations

For retailers in particular though, an ERP can be huge when considering the even greater amount of internal and external players, such as compliance auditors. However, choosing the right ERP is essential, as many of them can be customized with addons to perform industry-specific functions not available in a standard ERP.

Regardless of which ERP in particular that you choose for your business, the end goal is to bring together different operations into a unified system that enables employees to create the ideal shopping experience. To do so, your ERP must be capable of all of the following:

Having a unified POS application that can be accessed from the internet.

Which leads to:

  • Web-based access to payment processing and order tracking
  • Instant inventory/stock updates
  • A more efficient sales and return process

Which then help by:

All of the above not only give your customer a better buying experience because of better managed stock (did you know that ERPs allow for an inventory accuracy of 97% on average?), but they also eliminate many miscommunications between different retail and operational locations – making for a generally more efficient and positive workplace.

Integrating your retail application with your ecommerce channels

Which leads to:

  • A consistent customer experience across channels and better branding
  • A centralized channel management system that can be utilized to implement ‘bulk’ actions across locations
  • An improved and more accurate merchandising process made possible via intelligence forecasting

Which are going to help by:

Creating a unified e-commerce environment that will encourage customer loyalty and engagement through a personalized and seamless buying experience – opening many doors to turn your new customers into brand advocates.

Additional Considerations

Many companies fear that the process of implementing an ERP will cause a major disruption or loss of data during the process. If this is one of your stressors (and understandably so), it may be helpful to choose a partner experienced in retail implementation to help you not only with the initial setup but also with ongoing employee training and support. Such a partner can be integral in ensuring that disruption is kept to an absolute minimum and that there won’t be data lost during the transition.

Another major aspect of ERP implementation that will only become more necessary with time is that of having a cloud-based platform. Not only does this secure your data in a way that having it all kept in computers and devices cannot, it also makes all the right data accessible to all the right people and functions – instantly. This too leads to better decisions and subsequently, happier and more loyal customers.

Conclusion: Don’t Rush but Don’t Delay

The existing retail environment only stands to get more complicated and more competitive, so now is the time to get organized and get started with your cross-departmental integration efforts.

Before you begin, it is essential that you have a clear view of where you want to be in the future in order to avoid having to realign the characteristics of all of the different parts. If you’re starting to feel the pressure that it’s time to move beyond Excel and knock down those silos, do write to us at marketing@levtechconsulting.com for your complimentary consultation.

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