Automating the Business from Online to Bricks & Mortar Store to Warehouse

Digital has changed the world we live in forever. The knowledge and information gap is huge, as we learn more, technology is quickly becoming a retailer’s most valuable business tool. Integrated systems are one tool that replace the multiple disparate systems that had to be manually woven together: spreadsheets, accounting system reports, sales figures, online store info, social media, customer communication as well as many others. Integrated systems eliminate the duplication, caused by handling many different information streams, and streamlines the business processes and activities. Retail today is ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER! Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and an online presence, are two key tools to support any retail business. The best systems capture data on all customer interactions with the business, big and small, online and offline. An integrated system gives the retailer the most comprehensive information about their customers, their activity, their preferences etc that can then be used to build closer relationships. The big question is, WHICH system is right for you? Due to past experiences purchasing expensive technology that was never used, Australian retailers are wary of technology; the knowledge, the cost, the commitment and the skills to maintain it. The upside of this is that systems have come a long way in the last few years. Systems are better integrated, more adaptable, scalable and cheaper than ever before. This allows smaller businesses to be more responsive than larger enterprises who have existing systems (legacy systems) that take a lot more work to update. Integrated systems are flexible platforms that can grow and adapt as the business develops. They include, but are not limited to, the following elements:

  • Customer Relationship Management
  • product planning, purchase
  • manufacturing or service delivery
  • marketing and sales
  • inventory management
  • delivery and payment

To choose the best system for your business it is best to tackle one area at a time. Prioritise which of the above areas are most important to your business. For retailers, they sell and interact with the customer in many areas so inventory control and information is vital. A retailer could have a bricks and mortar store + online store + clear items on eBay and need to keep track of inventory in real time. Bringing all this information together instore results directly in better sales results. For example using a tablet, that gives the Sales Assistant information on the customer and their activity, online, on mobile, social and in store enables a better experience for the customer. The tablet is not just for information gathering it is a valuable service tool. Sales Assistants don’t need to drag the customer to a counter across the store anymore. They can process online orders, check stock, process a return, view the customer’s wish list and convert them to a sale. Customers will LOVE this attention and personalised service which will in turn enable the retailer to stand out amongst competitors. So throw away the multiple spreadsheets, printouts, reports and the hours spent blending and interpreting them and get started researching your integrated system. Good Luck and Happy Sales!