Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have helped businesses across multiple industries integrate their operations, making it easier to manage the company.
Retailers looking to upgrade their ERP system should look for (and use) certain key features that will help them manage their current business requirements and that will grow with them, allowing them to adapt to changing retail trends in the future.
One of the easiest ways to minimize technical problems between system components is to ensure your ERP system and related components share a common platform. This single step reduces or eliminates the risk of data loss due to problems arising from disparate communication interfaces between system components.
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Having a common database and hardware platform with established interfaces eliminates the potential problem of data communication incompatibility between multiple vendor components, ensuring the uninterrupted transmission of information to all necessary processes.
Easily Add Customizations
Many ERP software solutions contain a host of features out-of-the-box that can be applied to nearly every business. However, some of these are generic and may not fit exactly into your business model.
The optimal ERP solution will provide the opportunity to customize these features or to develop your own that precisely match your specific company's needs. Loyalty programs, custom pricing, and special inventory replenishment procedures are just some examples of company procedures that may not be readily available in a standard ERP installation.
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Having the ability to add customized software functions helps make the software work within your current business processes, rather than requiring you to change the way your business operates to accommodate the limitations of the software.
More than simply providing summary numbers by day, month, or year that require management to drill down for more information, modern ERP systems offer visual displays that provide real-time indicators of situations that require immediate attention, such as upcoming expenditures and inventory shortages, as well as long-range planning, such as inventory purchases for the upcoming year.
It is also useful to have your ERP system provide the capability to tailor data displays to specific job roles in your company. A sales clerk will want to see different data displayed and require different access to that data than other roles within the same company, such as the inventory manager or CFO. This will allow each role to be able to see and access only the data that is pertinent to their job function, increasing productivity and minimizing errors.
When considering a new ERP solution, retailers should consider carefully their current needs as well as future needs and trends that will allow their software investment to grow and mature with their company. A common, stable platform, ease of customization to fit the way you do business, and visual displays tailored to job roles will help your company integrate the new system quickly and let it evolve as your company grows and changes.
About Wm. Matthew Street
Wm. Matthew Street is a developer and business analyst at ArcherPoint. A retail ERP expert, Matthew has spent more than 32 years focused on driving improvements in business processes, operations, inventory management, business planning, and accounting.
For more information on how an ERP solution can benefit your retail business, email [email protected].