April 19, 2018

ERP for Retail: What You Should Know & Important Features to Look for

Written by
Justine Cross
Tags: ERP

Choosing the right ERP for your business is an important step to get right. But as every business operates differently, it’s also important to find an ERP solution that works for your unique retail business.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the key features your ERP system should offer, as well as how you can successfully choose the right vendor to work with.
Important Retail ERP Features to Look Out For

1. Multichannel

Retail has changed over the years and is continuously changing as new technologies, systems and channels are launched. One important concept of retail today is omnichannel, which is more than just a buzzword – it’s now considered a way of life for retailers.

Omnichannel is the idea of offering seamless shopping experiences no matter how a customer has heard of you, or whatever channel they’ve used to buy on. It’s therefore important for your ERP to support all of your sales channels.

But this support should be more than just the downloading of orders; your ERP system should update your inventory levels in real-time and update channels with relevant shipping information.

And ideally, integrations to your various channels will be fully supported by your ERP vendor, rather than a third-party, should you need help understanding how the integrations work.

2. Integrated CRM

You should find almost all ERP systems come with a CRM module as standard, but as a customer-first approach is so important in today’s competitive retail climate, it warrants mentioning here.

CRM software allows you to understand buying habits and how customers prefer to engage with your brand, and it gives your staff a record of all previous notes and communications.

It’s crucial then that you view your ERP system with a critical eye when it comes to CRM. Walk in your customer’s shoes for a few moments, and visualize whether the system can cope with all of the situations your staff may find them in when customers engage with you via phone, online, or in store.

3. Integrated Warehouse Management

There are lots of fantastic warehouse management systems out there, but it’s important to find one that efficiently talks to your ERP system.

For example: when you update inventory levels during an inventory count, you’ll want these changes reflected across your sales channels and financial reports. When receiving inventory, this also needs to be reflected accurately. You get the idea.

With an integrated WMS, all of these updates can be triggered automatically from one quick and simple barcode scan!

4. Integrated Accounting

Some ERP or back office systems require you to manage your bookkeeping and financial records in separate systems like in Sage or QuickBooks. Sadly, this means your records are siloed, preventing you from accessing reports in real-time, which costs valuable time and money when establishing which business decisions you should act on next.

It’s beneficial to investigate ERP solutions that combine traditional accounting features with every facet of your business including sales, purchasing, inventory management, warehousing and point of sale.

5. Integrated POS

Your point of sale should be more than just a cash register.

It should work in a similar way to the rest of your ERP by supplying relevant information to in store staff, including (but not limited to) purchase history, useful customer information, product details and inventory availability.

And in order for your staff to have access to all of this? You guessed it – your POS needs to be able to speak to your ERP or back office system, ideally in real-time, at any time of the day.

You’ve Shortlisted Some ERP Vendors: Now What?

Ideally your shortlisted ERP vendors will have all of these retail features and more, but how do you ensure you’re assessing systems adequately and fairly?

This is where an RFP (Request for Proposal) will help you.

An RFP lists all of your requirements, across all departments. This ensures you won’t be dazzled by exciting ERP features you’re never actually going to use, and instead, all vendor discussions can center solely around what you need and how that vendor is going to facilitate that need.

Your RFP will ideally be split into several areas, including:

  • Sales order management, payments & shipping
  • Inventory & product management
  • Purchase order management
  • Sales channels (consider which of the following you would need)
    • BigCommerce
    • Magento
    • Shopify
    • Amazon
    • eBay
  • POS
  • Wholesale
  • B2B
  • Warehouse management
  • Customer management
  • Accounting
  • 3PL & EDI
  • API
  • Reporting
  • System performance, data & security
  • Implementation & business support
  • Software support

Final Thoughts

Although finding the perfect ERP system can be tricky, we hope this advice helps you in your search. But remember – your ERP is going to be at the very heart and soul of your retail business, and so is therefore more than just a myriad of necessary features.

In order for your new ERP partnership to be truly successful, it’s recommended that you find a system that is not only designed by those who really understand retail, but that it’s also implemented and supported by retail experts as well.

So remember to include some questions about the company’s personnel within your RFP – what makes them truly qualified to provide you with software so vital to your business?

Justine Cross is the Content Marketing Executive at Brightpearl – a cloud-based back office solution for retailers and wholesalers. Brightpearl allows you to provide a truly omnichannel experience for your customers, whilst unifying all of your sales channels, inventory, accounting, CRM, suppliers, fulfillment, warehouse management, reporting and POS in one single automated system.