Retail technology is increasingly becoming more centralized to organizations of all sizes, regardless of their brick and mortar footprint. We explore the requirements of each department who is typically involved in a democratic selection process; store managers, operations, IT, marketing and finance employees.
Before you start.
Create a checklist of the basic fundamentals. This exercise will also provide a framework to shortlist those vendors who should be approached for further discussion and demonstrations. It will also provide a framework for that first conversation that initiates the partnership you will eventually need to establish. Keep in mind that if you look at too many POS systems, it will not be as effective as looking at only the right 2 – 4. Examples of fundamentals are critical to the overall use of the POS and often also deemed deal breakers.
Examples of fundamentals are usually all pretty straight forward. How many stores and SKUs will you need to accommodate today and in the foreseeable future? Will Internet accessibility be an issue for any of the stores? Decide if any existing hardware (servers, tills, credit card machines, scanning and mobile devices) should be repurposed. Lastly, do not ignore brand recognition. If there is a brand preference or distaste amongst the stakeholders or project sponsors, then do yourself a favor and acknowledge it. Brand recognition has proven to provide momentum throughout the system implementation and adoption thereafter.
In-Store User Interface.
Accommodating the retail shopper requires quick and easy access to all the data points relevant to promotions, historical transactions and inventory. These requirements are largely driven by the store managers and are specific to how the stores communicate with customers and operate within the company. With an integrated ERP solution, retail personal are often surprised by how accessible their inventory location data and reporting requirements are met. Albeit the simple things; inventory transfers, customer knowledge and sales history (across all channels – eMarkets and eCommerce) are greatly enhanced when ERP is properly integrated.
Other in-store features have been mostly standardized amongst today’s POS vendors. Evaluating the user interface for minimal training, increased adaption, adequate security and employee management (HRM) requirements are driven store managers. More often than not, the ability to access ERP data and safeguard financial transactions using ERP data accomplishes the more complex “wish list” items.
Single database of truth and dynamic reporting.
Connecting Sales and Finance with accurate numbers is the primary case for ERP integration. Be it CRM, eCommerce or POS applications, every one of them gains from ERP integration. A true Omni-Channel environment is driven by unified data and the ability to transact across all sales venues through a single set of historical customer and sales records. Perhaps the best example is a critical metrics for retailers, Open To Buy (OTB), which allows management to most efficiently determine necessary inventory transfers across stores and optimize vendor purchase orders. Other key metrics that drive business decisions are specific to inventory sales trends, customer demographics, basket analysis and marketing data attributed to campaign responses from social media and digital advertising. Given the magnitude of data, we see ERP as the best centralized reporting tool. It is usually already owned and merely needs to be utilized more.
Leveraging your primary investment – enterprise ERP.
Key to an integrated POS system is recognizing the value of your ERP early in the selection process. Tribal knowledge from the finance team is key to leveraging ERP for retail purposes. While business processes and GL impact are central to ERP, so are all the necessary data points that serve Omni-Channel benefits. Timing inventory transfers and cutting purchase orders according to tangible analytics allows store managers focus on their customers and employees. The single source of truth also reduces mystery for finance and allows business cases to support PO requests for more merchandise and other store expenditures.
We continue to see fully integrated solutions come to market for name brands such as NetSuite and Acumatica. MIBAR.net has 25+ years of experience implementing ERP with additional sales channels for wholesale and retail environments. Give us a call for a free assessment of your Omni-Channel requirements.