When our customers think about shopping, it is increasingly the case that both physical stores and eCommerce environments come to mind. However, they usually don’t give much regard to the processes that make these purchasing channels successful. On the other hand, retailers have become very aware that neither brick-and-mortar nor online sales on their own is enough to become a leading brand… you need to excel at both kinds of commerce.
To achieve this kind of omnichannel success, retailers must establish a consistent and reliable way to ensure that all each channel’s processes are performing effectively, without becoming siloed off from other business activities. For many organizations, implementing an ERP solution is the perfect way to address these needs.
In this post, we’ll explore 5 ways a solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 can support your eCommerce efforts via integrated operations.
1. Order fulfillment
If you have an online store and every time you receive and order, your employees have to manually process the order and ensure that it’s shipped to the right place on time, this can quickly become an arduous and time-consuming process. With an ERP platform, when your eCommerce site receives an order, it’s automatically processed and the right people receive all necessary order information. Having a solution that can automate this for you has several major perks, but the biggest is probably the reduction in human involvement. This frees up your employees to perform tasks more valuable than keying in orders and also improves order accuracy by eliminating a potential source of manual error.
2. Data accuracy and availability
Another substantial benefit of ERP solutions is its single, highly available database containing data for all business operations. Since there’s they don’t have to wait for multiple data sources to to be synchronized or compiled, your organization’s decision makers can act more quickly and decisively. It also means that there is a single version of the truth and a much lower risk of working off of outdated information.
3. Merchandising considerations
Inventory management across multiple locations and fulfillment methods is no small feat, so you should take advantage of every opportunity to simplify your supply chain operations. Picture this: your online store is doing great, so you increase your marketing spend and receive more orders than you expected. Now, once it’s too late, you realize that you don’t have the inventory to fulfill all these order, which leads to major fulfillment delays.
If you’d had a platform like Dynamics 365 in this situation, your inventory records and eCommerce website would have been in sync. When your stock began to run low, more would have been ordered and made available automatically. Over time, your platform would also get “smarter”; it would use historical sales records to improve demand forecasting for each product, distribution center, and retail location. You’d be able to maintain leaner inventories while also experiencing fewer stockouts.
4. Customer management
Any ERP solution should support an eCommerce platform that can create a single customer identity and simplify customer account management, order history, wish lists, loyalty, and more. A retail server can manage their shopping cart, shipping details, taxes, and OpenID connect for customer authentication. These different efforts together with the rest of your operations can serve to create the best buying experience possible and simplify the lives of your customer service team, making them more effective at their jobs. Ultimately, this leads to more satisfied customers.
Another bonus? With Dynamics 365 in particular, all of your essential data is stored in the cloud, secure from cyberthreats and hardware failures.
5. Reduced operating costs
Having a platform to handle the major operational aspects of your physical and online stores minimizes the waste of time, money, and physical resources. Once your eCommerce is integrated with your ERP platform, your business can function as a more effective whole, minimizing the spend associated with managing your different channels. As mentioned earlier, the automation of key processes and elimination of manual data entry also lower your overall operating costs by saving resources and minimizing error.
For these reasons, it’s clear that ERP functionality for your eCommerce and physical channels can make a huge difference in the daily lives of your employees and the bottom line of your business. However, choosing the right ERP platform and implementation partner will be integral for businesses to achieve these operational improvements with minimal data loss or operational disruption. They should be experienced in ERP implementation for the retail industry. This will help you to identify your long-term ERP platform needs and ensure that your employees have a supportive transition process.
eCommerce is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives, so achieving an ideal arrangement for your business will be essential for your ongoing success for years to come. An ERP platform can help you simplify and manage many of the operations necessary to run a successful retail business, both online and in-store.
If you want to learn more about how an ERP solution like Dynamics 365 can address your operational needs, please contact Systems.