Resources / Top 10 Must-Have Retail ERP Features

Chapter 3

Top 10 Must-Have Retail ERP Features

There are certain things that you should look for when considering a retail ERP solution. With that in mind, here are the top ten features that you must have on your ERP requirements list.

1. Retail Workflow Automation

If there’s one thing that customers in the retail industry want, it’s to have a consistent shopping experience, whether they’re stepping into a brick and mortar store or ordering online. With a retail ERP system, retailers can consolidate all online, brick and mortar, wholesale, phone and mobile sales into one single, easy to use system.

With delayed insight a thing of the past thanks to ERP, systems can automatically route orders to the warehouse, update order statuses, highlight exceptional orders and reduce fulfillment costs per order with advanced workflow automation. And because you’ll be able to gain real-time insight into your sales through instant reports and integrated accounting, you’ll also gain from having the tools to make better business decisions.

Most importantly, that data can be used to manage the customers in a personalized way across all sales channels – every single time they shop – ultimately strengthening the relationships with both your retail and wholesale customers.

2. Multi-Location & Real-Time Inventory Management

Within the inventory management functionality of a retail ERP, you can easily maintain an accurate inventory through automatic updates across all your sales channels, visibility across all your locations and the ability to perform frequent cycle counts easily.

In addition, you can have a real-time and accurate view into your stock, which ensures quick replenishment of your top-selling items, while supporting you in the phasing out of low-selling products as well.

Furthermore, with a tailored retail ERP system in place, you’ll have the flexibility needed to manage inventory levels behind bundles and kits, as well as for the various product sizes, colors and other variants your products might have.

With a more streamlined and automatic inventory management process across all sales channels, you’ll also benefit from gaining clarity on margins that are visible down to individual orders, as well as the ability to access inventory reports, historic sales data and real-time sales reports that allow you to make more informed purchasing decisions quickly and easily.

This all results in more satisfied customers who no longer have to be told that an item is (unfortunately) out of stock.

3. Integrated Warehouse Management

One thing that’s essential to reducing processing costs and errors is efficient warehouse management and order fulfillment. You need to move your products quickly in and out of the warehouse to get them into rotation quickly and to fulfill orders as efficiently as possible – plain and simple.

Or is it?

The integrated warehouse management functionality of a retail ERP should be able to support barcode scanning, inventory counts and returned inventory, while being fully integrated with your entire business — including inventory management, sales order management, purchase and supplier management, customer service and accounting.

As a result, you’ll reduce your time to ship, eliminate errors, reduce processing costs and save time, leaving you free to focus on revenue growth.

4. Multichannel Order Management

Supporting fast and frictionless shopping experiences, whenever and wherever sales are made, is essential to meeting the needs of today’s savvy omnichannel customer.

However you choose to sell your products – be it online, offline, or through wholesale – a retail ERP will manage everything within one centralized system for you, enabling you to focus on the experience and building strong customer loyalty.

Built-in integrations within a retail ERP will take care of your ecommerce orders from channels such as BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, eBay and Amazon, while retail ERP vendors also understand the benefits and market opportunity that can come with a brick and mortar store, and thus, will likely come with an integrated point of sale system as standard as well.

The integrated aspect is key here as it will ensure all your orders can be automatically downloaded and stored centrally within your ERP system. If possible, you should also look for an integrated point of sale that has an offline mode as well, so should you find yourself without an internet connection – for instance while on the road, at trade shows, events or at your pop-up shop – you’ll still be able to take sales and record profitability.

5. Flexible Order Fulfillment

As a complex retail business, you’re likely using a myriad of different fulfillment options in order to satisfy the needs of your demanding customers.

Fortunately, a retail ERP will be fully equipped with various features to support your unique processes, such as drop-shipping, partial fulfillment, back orders and more.

You’ll simply need to choose your primary and secondary warehouses to fulfill from and let your own processes guide you, rather than limitations of one-size-fits-all legacy ERP software.

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6. Integrated Accounting

Native accounting means you’ll always know exactly what funds are owed to your suppliers and when they’re due, allowing you to easily keep on top of your accounts payable.

A retail ERP eliminates the risk of paying duplicate invoices or errors caused by manual data input. In addition, it gives you the ability to capture the right discounts, improve supplier relationships and generally improve productivity across the whole of the business.

Furthermore, a retail ERP will naturally also come complete with essential retail accounting features like landed-cost and multi-currency.

With software tracking the landed-cost of each product, such as freight charges, import duty, insurance and other taxes, you’ll always know the true costs of your products, and therefore, how healthy your margins are. Additionally, all your exchange rate gains and losses will also be automatically accounted for and recorded within your financial reports, ensuring you can grow your business through cross-border trade with peace of mind.

If efficiency and global growth are goals you have, then a retail ERP is right for you.

7. Demand Planning & Inventory Forecasting

Customers have become accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it. If you can’t provide that for them, they won’t hesitate to get what they need from a competitor. That’s why it’s so important to provide great customer service, and that includes meeting their demand for your products, which makes forecasting extremely important.

With retail ERP software, tracking past trends and forecasting future demand is easier and higher on accuracy. Because the software centralizes all inventory, sales, purchasing, accounting and reporting data into one single system, you can manage the quantity of inventory on hand, optimize inventory levels and manage inventory movements easily and efficiently.

You’ll also have a real-time and accurate view into your stock, which allows you to quickly replenish your top-selling items, as well as phase out your less popular products. Furthermore, integrations with expert tools like Inventory Planner mean you can easily forecast demand and purchase inventory in advance that is guaranteed to sell well.

8. Integrated Retail CRM

In retail, customers can make or break your success. Keeping this in mind, retail ERP systems offer a dedicated customer management module that helps support the necessary factors of managing today’s modern customer relationships. Along with providing a truly integrated view of customers, it also helps you to overcome customer-related challenges.

Orders, emails and call notes are all logged against contact records, providing you with a complete history of each relationship, as well as the ability to function as a coordinated customer-first business. Because you’ll have access to a full order history and customer interactions, your staff can unite their approach towards your customers, instantly improving the customer service your company provides.

Plus, as all your customer and supplier information is integrated with the rest of your business, you can also easily personalize your marketing efforts. For instance, you’ll be able to segment your customers based on order history data to help identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities within your existing customer base.

Gaining more clarity on who your customers are and how you can better support them is a huge advantage of a retail ERP system – and one that any retailer should recognize as a key factor in strengthening their business.

9. Hybrid Retail & Wholesale Functionality

Multiple vendors? No problem! Some retail ERP systems are hybrid, which means they can serve both retailers and wholesalers; one example being the Brightpearl retail operations system.

With these hybrid ERP systems, you’re given access to a full customer audit trail and previous order history for every customer or client, allowing you to work efficiently with your customers and build lasting relationships with them – no matter what type of customer they are. This is sure to be a winning scenario that can only help to optimize all your retail goals.

10. Returns Management

Returns are inevitable within most retail businesses, which means specialist retail ERP systems should be flexible enough to support how you want to process each return.

They’ll often allow you to bring items back into the warehouse for immediate resale, or if the items have been damaged in transit, or are faulty, then you’ll also be able to place the goods into a ‘quarantine’ location ready for review at a later time, or be able to write them off completely if needed as well.

As for refunds, with a retail ERP system in place, you’ll be able to decide whether to issue an immediate refund, allocate the payment against any outstanding orders or keep the money on the customer’s account balance so it can be used against a future order.

This ensures your business remains flexible and adaptable – even during this post-sale phase – ensuring you don’t isolate customers from buying from you again in the future.

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