When your retail strategy empowers employees through data and analytics, you enhance every aspect of their workday, which in turn leads to a better customer experience.
Enabling these enhancements requires a data management solution that is effective, efficient, and in a form that can be accessed quickly and easily by key employees in your retail business. Such data accessibility can be profitable, too – the global retail industry stands to gain an additional $94B in revenue over four years by taking full advantage of their data.
In this post, we’ll look at several major data management considerations for retail, including the key differences between ERP and EAI, choosing the right ERP, and a brief look at business intelligence.
ERP & EAI
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) are two popular solutions to data management woes, but in very different ways. For many large retailers, the question isn’t which of these two solutions they should use, but rather how to implement both of them most effectively.
An ERP platform is a single software application that integrates major business functions that span across core operations. This is where the collection and organization of all your data occurs. EAI, on the other hand, is a framework that takes multiple platforms and allows them to communicate, integrating the data between these different information systems that would otherwise be isolated in “data silos”. One important benefit of EAI, in addition to the core importance of communicating data, is that it allows companies to make the most of their pre-existing IT investments – a huge initial cost-saving measure.
Fear of disruption?
Sometimes companies are hesitant to implement these two very powerful solutions because of the risk of data loss or disruption. These risks can be avoided by choosing the right partner for your implementation efforts and having them available for employee support before, during, and after the implementation. Though it may seem obvious, having a clear idea from the beginning (and sticking to it) will prevent hours of headaches down the line.
One major prerequisite for successful implementing ERP and EAI is selecting the right ERP platform for your industry – one that can help you from a general operational standpoint by providing the tools you need to face problems specific to your line of business. For retailers, some examples of features that should come standard include:
- POS management
- E-commerce utilities such as destination-based taxation and real-time inventory updates
- Contact center capabilities
- Marketing – content and campaign management
- Social monitoring
- Store operations – statement reconciliation and pricing management
- Supply chain and logistics
- Sales force automation
- Financial management
- HR – payroll and related tasks
- Business intelligence (BI)
Working together, these functions are essential for any retail business looking to create a memorable shopping experience that attracts loyal and engaged customers.
Making Data Usable
Having all the data in the world is useless if it doesn’t produce actionable results. BI is the process of taking raw data, giving it context, and arriving at one version of truth – and doing it an understandable way using a real-time “dashboard” that contains visualizations, graphs, and charts.
For retail analytics, BI can be integral in a number of ways, especially in customer investigation that helps enhance the buying experience. It can also be used to understand the relationship between purchasing patterns and other essential measurements across geographical locations. As BI is an ongoing process, particularly with regards to data updates within an enterprise data warehouse, having the right ongoing support from consultants can completely change your employee experience.
Better customer data management leads to a better customer experience and can have a positive impact that is felt tenfold across your entire business. So transitioning to a solution that enhances data management is well worth the necessary time and effort. Don’t let concerns about disruption keep your business from making this very essential transition, since deciding to wait will only lead to an increasingly complicated environment in the future.
To find out how better data management can give your entire retail business a boost, contact Visionet Systems for your complimentary consultation.