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ERP & CRM: Retail Essentials
29th November 2017

Customers have knowledge and options – and aren’t afraid to combine the two, meaning that the only way a retailer can be truly exceptional is by creating a buying experience that goes beyond ensuring the customer gets the product.

With every passing day, our ability to gather information and communicate effectively both within and outside of our business is changing our outlook on everything from initial product purchase to the colour scheme between our mobile apps and websites.

For retail in particular this has been especially true – raising the stakes for online and in-store retailers alike. As this also is becoming increasingly complex (consider what’s happening with your supply chain alone), companies are turning to a variety of different software options to enable success, including ERP and CRM solutions.

In this post, we’re going to look at what exactly these two solutions are, key factors in their implementation, and the types of customer-centric activities that can be facilitated by their use.

What is an ERP?
ERP or enterprise resource planning is essentially the management of the key business functions of a company. One of the major benefits of an ERP is that it simplifies data management and greatly reduces the need for employees to focus on collecting, organizing, and sharing essential data and information. This not only means that employees can spend their time focusing on other essential functions directly related to the business, but it also creates a number of safeguards that can immediately intercept problems and raise the alarm of their existence.

For retail, it is essential that any ERP you choose functions in real time, can be implemented in the cloud, and can be seamlessly integrated with your CRM. Some ERPs even include a built in CRM, furthermore enhancing the insights.

What is CRM then?
CRM, broadly speaking, is customer relationship management – or keeping track of each and every interaction that a customer has with your brand, essentially making it the ‘other side of the coin’ from an ERP solution. This management not only improves the overall experience of the customer when done properly, but also helps to provide companies with a wealth of data about their buyers, prospects and processes. It can be a great way for your sales and customer service teams to facilitate conversation with buyers in a way that might establish workflows that serve to greatly simplify their daily lives.

Why integrate the two?
If your ERP and CRM are separate, their integration can be the process that takes your business to the next level by eliminating efficiencies through better data-driven processes. From the beginning, these efforts will enable your business to:

  • Engage with customers in a natural way
  • Empower employees with the right tools in the right places for success
  • Optimize your operations via intuitive and automated processes
  • Transform your supply chain into a more effective version of itself through intelligent processes and predictive guidance

Any implementation process, regardless of how it begins or is configured (including a built-in CRM or not), must be treated with caution and an eye on the future to keep any disruptions or loss of data to a minimum. In many cases, outsourcing the implementation process to a trusted partner can greatly simplify the lives of retailers. An additional bonus of this arrangement is that your employees will have a resource available to help them become acclimated and learn to use the solution most effectively.

Practical applications for retail success
One of the biggest benefits of integrating your CRM and ERP or choosing a pre-packaged option is that it opens up an almost endless world of opportunities for how retailers can attract and retain new customers. Some loyalty solutions thrive in this type of environment owing to the ability to create and track custom campaigns and to adjust them based on the operational data received from the ERP side of the equation – resulting in effective segmentation and reporting.

A few examples of how a loyalty solution can help boost engagement and overall success of your efforts include:

  • SMS and email surveys to gauge customer satisfaction
  • Cross-channel and personalized interactions with customers, such as emails
  • Social engagement and monitoring
  • Bluetooth-enabled beacons that are based on buyer proximity to a physical location
  • Loyalty and award programs
  • Gamification
  • Mobile application with personalized portal

Your retail business is growing, and it can only stand to grow more by bringing together all of the essential operational and customer processes. By either selecting an ERP that has a CRM included or integrating ERP and CRM solutions, retailers have the opportunity to create the best possible shopping experience for customers, owing to the availability of data in major decisions. If you are considering an ERP and CRM solution to help take your retail business to the next level, contact us for your free consultation.

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