Shoppers want a streamlined shopping experience and the ability to move seamlessly from shopping in-store to online — and back. To deliver what your customers want, you need technology systems that communicate with each other and support your overall business goals. IT systems that aren’t integrated, on the other hand, can work against you as you try to reach omnichannel retail goals.
If your IT systems aren’t integrated, your employees are probably doing double work, which costs you time and money. For example, when two of your most important IT systems, point of sale (POS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are integrated, sales at the POS automatically update inventory and accounting systems. Without integration, your staff is spending time on redundant data entry — and it probably also means you will disappoint your customers at some point. For example, if inventory management and eCommerce aren’t integrated, a customer who sees an item listed as “in stock” online may arrive at a brick-and-mortar location only to find that it’s sold out. You’ll lose a sale and may have an angry customer on your hands.
Ideally, all of your store systems, including POS, mobility, loyalty, promotions, eCommerce and more should be integrated via a digital store platform, so data is automatically shared, not siloed. This gives you valuable insight into a store’s operations and helps create meaningful customer experiences.
Empowered to Do More
Integrated IT systems will give you new capabilities such as:
- Personalizing customer experiences: Omnichannel retail via digital platform helps businesses improve customer service, make relevant, targeted offers, and encourage repeat business by monitoring buying patterns.
- Data mining: The information gathered by integrated systems tells you where, when and what people are buying so you can make better purchasing decisions, schedule labor more efficiently, and devise better marketing campaigns.
Opening the Door to Future-Forward Processes
With integrated IT systems, your business will be able to keep up with growing trends and new retail processes:
- Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS): Even though online shopping has its perks, physical locations still have the edge when it comes to instant gratification. BOPIS gives customers the best of both worlds — browsing at their leisure, then a conveniently scheduled pickup at the store (and no shipping costs). However, for orders to be filled accurately, your eCommerce system should communicate with in-store inventory processes so you aren’t forced to cancel orders you can’t fulfill.
- Personalized in-store service: A digital platform can help identify VIPs and give them a high level of personalized attention. Without this insight, every customer appears to be the same, and there is no special attention for repeat visitors. However, integrated processes can help you make recommendations based on customers’ past purchases or send them targeted offers.
- Mobile offers/digital passes: A digital store platform allows you to take advantage of geomarketing and technologies that integrate with in-store systems to send personalized digital offers to customers’ smartphones while they’re shopping in-store or when they’re located nearby. Without integrated IT systems, you don’t have the ability to influence shoppers in this manner.
The Benefits for the Back Office
Integrating your ERP software with your front-of-store systems helps you automate many back-office functions including inventory management, sales reporting, planning and human resources. Integrating these processes means no more manual data entry, and, when stock reaches a set minimum, it’s automatically reordered so you’re never out of what your customers want the most. Integrating these system can also help you monitor shrinkage and help identify and correct problems. The data you collect and analyze can identify slow moving items, show how to retain some profit when discounting, and pinpoint products that are better discontinued.
Integrated processes facilitate a seamless omnichannel retail experience that starts and ends with the consumer’s personalized preferences. If your business doesn’t have integrated IT systems, you’re wasting time, resources and money doing double work.
Retailers who want to use a specific ERP shouldn’t feel pigeonholed into using a certain POS system. You can have it all. CitiXsys’ iVend Retail’s retail management suite is ERP-agnostic, and stands apart from other systems by giving you the capabilities that will make your vision for retail success a reality. Download our latest eBook, 4 Ways Retailers Can Use Technology to Thrive in the Face of Industry Disruption for more ways to leverage technology in your stores.