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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) are two entirely different processes, although both serve to improve the overall efficiency and functionality of an organization. Integrating the two saves a great deal of time, money, and energy by improving processes using automated workflows, collecting and presenting actionable information in real time, and other powerful operational enhancements. Ultimately, these digital solutions yield business benefits that help you deliver a superior product and brand experience before, during, and after each customer purchase.

In this post, we’ll delve into each of these processes and why integrating them can be highly beneficial for retailers.

ERP

ERP systems unite all business functions within a single platform to improve data availability and provide real-time updates. Cloud-based ERP platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 enable employees to focus on high-value tasks while leaving machines to handle much of the “work” involved in routine business operations. Automation allows repetitive tasks proceed without human intervention. If a problem arises in one department, it can be isolated quickly. Other operations are alerted with enough time to make any necessary operational adjustments.

CRM

CRM solutions simplify engagement with existing and potential customers. Like ERP platforms, CRM solutions record and store customer information and track their interactions with your organization. CRM systems can be standalone systems or built-in components in larger ERP platforms. Standalone CRM solutions can be integrated directly with ERP platforms, allowing each to complement the other.

What’s the difference?

Individually, both of these functions serve a similar purpose: to help your business become more profitable. However, they focus different parts of your business. An ERP platform reduces your resource spend (time, money, effort, etc.) required on your key business operations, whereas CRM increases sales volume via better customer management. When brought together properly, they can multiply their effects by providing your retail business the information and process efficiency it needs to stay competitive.

Integrate or Implement?

Whether you integrate separate CRM and ERP solutions or choose an ERP platform features built-in CRM functionality, having their processes work together is key. However, integrating separate platforms can lead to problems with compatibility. Since different parts of your business and software applications evolve at different rates, integrated components that function well today might not continue to function several years from now. For this reason, many retailers choose ERP platforms that already include CRM capabilities. These all-in-one solutions offer a clear advantage: you don’t have to worry about incompatibility between modules designed by different software providers.

Conclusion

When two major processes like ERP and CRM function almost entirely separately from each other, maintaining consistent operations and communication to support effective decision making can be a challenge. For retailers that are looking for a truly holistic view of their customers and how they engage with their business, accurate and up-to-date information is crucial.

Rolling out an ERP platform that comes with CRM functionality built in is a big step, but this investment can completely transform your day-to-day and long-term operations through data-driven decisions and workflows. Be sure to choose an ERP platform designed with retail in mind and pick an implementation partner who clearly understands both the solution and your industry.

Contact Systems to learn more about how ERP platforms enable retailers to become more profitabile from within.

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