The Essentials of Retail Resource Planning
Retailers that are always out of stock don’t survive for long. Maintaining adequate inventory levels is essential to running a retail business. In order to avoid both out-of-stocks and overstock, your business needs to perform careful resource planning. Otherwise, moving enough stock to turn a healthy profit becomes extremely unlikely.
Thankfully, modern enterprise software can help businesses with nearly every aspect of resource planning. Most solutions organize all business operations in an easy-to-use central dashboard that lets decision makers take a close look at individual business processes, and also offers a bird’s-eye-view of their entire enterprise, helping them understand how all the moving parts interact.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms are technology solutions designed to integrate all the essential operations of your business into a single, intuitive, and accessible “dashboard”. All of your business data and management processes are tracked, generating a wealth of information that facilitates more effective decision making.
Successful retail resource planning requires an ERP solution capable of handling all your current needs. It must also offer features for your specific industry (e.g. merchandising, multiple POS applications, etc.), and scale as your business grows.
An ERP system simplifies your employees’ tasks by centralizing all essential operations into an easily understandable dashboard. Some tasks that your ERP must be able to perform include:
- Inventory control and warehouse management
- Supply chain planning and transportation management
- Business intelligence – data acquisition and organization
- Core accounting tasks
- Customer relationship management (CRM) functionality or integration with an external CRM system
If you’re implementing a new ERP platform or transitioning from an existing solution that isn’t working for you, there are a few things that you can do to avoid trouble:
- Gain a clear understanding of your goals before you begin. This includes selecting your ERP platform, determining its scalability, and learning how it will be implemented, because you really don’t want to go through this process again when your business outgrows the platform’s capabilities.
- Consider the benefits of a parallel implementation, where your existing system and new ERP solution run simultaneously for a short period, versus a phased implementation, where you bring each business line over to the ERP platform individually.
- Determine your customization requirements. Even within the same industry, no two organizations are identical. Every retail brand uses unique internal processes and operating procedures to generate competitive advantage. Your ERP system should reflect this uniqueness and enable you to work accordingly.
- Choose an ERP implementation partner that is experienced in your particular industry. Not only will an industry-savvy partner be able to customize your ERP deployment faster and more precisely, but will also help you minimize the risk of data loss or disruption during the transition.
- Assess the impact that adopting an ERP solution will have on your employees, especially in the beginning. By ensuring that your employees have the necessary ongoing support available, you can make their lives easier and your new system more effective from the start.
- Identify opportunities for external integration. While most leading ERP solutions provide a complete suite of tightly integrated internal business processes, their functionality doesn’t focus on communication with outside parties. One powerful way of enhancing your ERP system’s value involves integrating it with suppliers, service providers, and other external partners across the supply chain using EDI or direct B2B data exchange solutions like PartnerLink by Visionet. Similarly, integrating your ERP platform with your online store is a relatively quick and cost-effective way of improving the value of your IT investments, since it will enable omni-channel analytics and order fulfilment, as well as centralized management of product information, inventory, pricing, merchandizing, and marketing in real time. Visionet offers CommerceLink, a pre-built integration solution that is quick to deploy.
Implementing an ERP solution is an effective and efficient way to organize your business data and processes. It can help your employees make more informed decisions that create a better buying experience and attract loyal and engaged customers. Choosing the right ERP platform and implementation partner are essential for ensuring that all internal and external stakeholders are happy and productive after adopting the new solution. Customization and integration with external partners and platforms further enhance ERP capabilities and maximize ROI.
Resource planning requires organization, patience, and an understanding of how individual processes can be optimized to maximize performance. If you’re interested in learning more about how to manage your resources more effectively, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free consultation.