The retail scenario is highly competitive, with wafer-thin profit margins, constantly changing customer preferences, and ever emerging competitive threats. With the personal device diversity that is prevalent, automation must now also extend to device diversity with easy integration into the ERP. A lot of the digital buying activity will take place via a device in the future. In line with this mobile devices are now being used for transactions at point of sale (POS) terminals. With mobile technologies being used instead of credit cards, retail needs to be technology ready in order to be relevant and efficient. The customer now demands this and it is a given that retail too must be technology ready with no excuses. Time is money apart from price and you can lose your customer if you don’t value that. Manual processes are no longer acceptable and is a big limitation to growth and scalability. Mom and Pop stores may therefore have a limited future apart from their niches.
Larger retailers have had an advantage in deploying state of the art POS technology and the ERP systems to automate their sales operations and supply chain. The big retail players have the necessary IT infrastructure and well trained staff to set up and operate an automated point of sale terminal that is automatically linked to accounting modules of ERP systems and data can be tracked in real time to run the retail operations effectively. The prohibitive costs and hidden costs of these traditional ERP systems never really bothered their business model though they have been totally out of the reach of the smaller players.
Since the advent of the uniform commercial code, retail operations have been using product scanning technologies at the point of sale. Each time a product on sale is scanned- inventory balances are updated, orders to refill stock are initiated, customer purchase preferences are stored for predicting future buying behavior, and accounting formalities are automatically completed. With this the long waiting line at point of sale terminal and accounting nightmares becomes a thing of the past. Customer data can be used to predict future buying possibilities and to create relevant offers with a high probability of sales. It can also be used for better customer service and to increase customer satisfaction. Moreover, reporting is automated and business process productivity is optimal in an ERP environment. There is minimal process waste and duplication of effort.
Even SMB (Small and Medium Business) retailers need to have scanning enabled point of sale technologies that are integrated with their ERP to record sales, do necessary accounting and record and predict customer buying behavior. Since most of the SMB’s cannot afford a dedicated IT department with extensive infrastructure like the bigger players, they need automated systems with the same functionality and those that suit their budgetary constraints. SMB’s may also need to deal with multiple locations in terms of sales, warehousing etc and with these constraints the duplication of effort and managing multiple systems was a given in the past. On-premise ERP’s were out of reach and hence they had multiple standalone systems and navigated daily between them. They needed a comprehensive inventory management, accounting and sales management system that was well integrated and relevant. The silver lining in the cloud is that game changing options exist now even for them that suits their needs and business model too.
Technology is fast changing the face of retail especially the adoption of cloud technology. Now even the smaller and mid-sized retail players need to be in step with these developments. Earlier on-premise ERP system costs were prohibitive for them but this has thankfully changed due to the cloud ERP that is affordable even for them. The cloud ERP offers the best of both worlds- anytime and anywhere access at an affordable cost but with no compromise on functionality and security.
With the internet enabled ERP solution on the cloud, they have much lower entry barriers that do not burn a hole in the pocket with affordable cost commitments in terms of fees, manpower and equipment. You also have the promise of anytime and anywhere access as well as zero maintenance hassles. You have to pay an operating expense based on a subscription model, understand how to operate it and you could be up and running in a matter of hours. Upgrades are automated and maintenance of the back end is the vendor’s responsibility.
With a cloud ERP, SMB retailers can be just as competitive as the giants of retail and reach for the sky.
We at Versa have created a cloud based one stop comprehensive ERP solution that is retail ready. It is affordable and targeted for SMB’s and is backed by a promise of dedicated support. It is being used by clients in diverse verticals and could help you redefine your business.
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