The retail sector remains under pressure as the cost of living, inflation, rising interest rates and a global economic recession continue to impact sales and growth. Retailers need to find smarter and more sustainable ways of navigating these headwinds. This is wedded to the need to ensure that customers remain loyal and connected at a time when they too are cutting expenditure to make ends meet.
Deloitte’s 2023 retail industry outlook found that retailers need to find resiliency and invest in solutions that ‘elevate business strategy beyond traditional cost cutting’ .
One of the key ways in which retailers can enhance their existing systems and approaches while bedding down sustainability is to invest in capable technology.
Technology empowers the organisation, providing the insights, data and functionality it needs to identify the trends, revise strategies and engage with customers.
“Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms have evolved from weighty and overly complex solutions that inhibit business processes to modular and intelligent toolkits that deliver immense value,” says Stephen Howe, director at Times 3 Technologies, a Sage Platinum Partner.
“An intelligent blend of ERP functions across finance, inventory management, sales, human resources, and supply chain, to name a few, offers retailers invaluable visibility into the business.
“Using the insights provided by your ERP the business can enhance, if not completely transform decision-making, and uncover new growth opportunities,” adds Howe.
In addition to the obvious value that ERP delivers around data and insights, it also assists in streamlining processes, improving operational capabilities, and saving on costs.
This is where the return on investment (ROI) comes in. ERP is an investment into a comprehensive ecosystem that wraps the business in layers of functionality and provides immense scalability and visibility and is worth the investment if it’s implemented in line with your business strategies and infrastructure.
And this means that you need to know exactly how well it’s performing and ensure that your ERP delivers on your anticipated ROI. “Your ERP system touches so many different parts of your business which means that measuring benefits is made so much easier,” says Howe.
“Unpack precisely why you have your ERP system in place, or why you are choosing to invest in an ERP system, as this will provide you with clarity around ROI and measurement metrics as you move down the road.” Retailers want efficiencies across the supply chain, costs, HR and finance.
These are key areas that require ongoing visibility and control as these can be high-cost centres for the sector.
To ensure that you achieve your ROI on this investment there are three key steps your business can take.
“If you can introduce efficiencies, save costs on unnecessary expenditure, and use data to refine processes and operations, you will save money by default,” says Howe.
“Your ERP is an incredibly intelligent behemoth capable of radically transforming how you do business, but only if you are realistic in implementation, have solid change management strategies in place, and constantly refine it to ensure you get the most from its functionalities.”