Over 1,000 medium-to-large retail businesses in the U.S. have closed or plan to close stores in 2018. Toys R Us, for example, is closing 735 stores while Best Buy is closing 250 of their cell phone stores; Foot Locker plans to close 110 stores. (Read about 24 large retailers closing stores here.) Combine that with Chain Store Age’s dire prediction that rising costs threaten to crush retailer margins, and it’s clear that U.S. retailers are facing a challenge to remain profitable.
Many retailers are investing heavily in the customer-facing side of their business, either through compelling store layouts, immersive online experiences, or creative brand extensions and partnerships. What many retail businesses have failed to invest in, however, is their back-end systems and infrastructure to position themselves for sustained profitability in the face of increasingly fickle consumers.
To sustain long-term profits, retailers must move beyond the sales and marketing aspects of operations and focus on processes and cost efficiencies, which means addressing complex operational challenges like managing multi-faceted supply chains, streamlining omnichannel processes, and tightly controlling inventory.
Retailers that recognize the value of connecting back-end systems with customer-facing features and functions are investing in retail software and systems. Specifically, they’re implementing solutions that integrate data and processes across their existing systems, unify front- and back-office processes and functions, and provide workflows that leverage an array of technologies, including POS systems, third-party logistics software, eCommerce platforms, barcode scanning technology, and external databases.
Such forward-looking retailers can integrate processes and procedures across their supply chain – imagine what you could achieve if you didn’t have disconnects between the functional areas of your business. Waste and inefficiency would shrink dramatically, helping you cut costs and improve the bottom line.
When companies bring CRM, finance and inventory management, and other core functions under the umbrella of a single system with advanced analytics, they can make critical decisions faster. Often, the system can make decisions and send information to the right users, on the right devices, when and where needed because advanced retail systems and software provide unprecedented levels of business insight and enable you to model workflows that use those insights automatically.
With order fulfillment, the right solution makes the difference – automated stock and purchasing replenishment functionalities in modern retail systems ensure the right products and quantities are available when needed (but only when needed), reducing stockouts and inventory costs simultaneously. Advanced inventory management offers visibility and control over stock levels while highly accurate forecasting anticipates customer demand patterns. The ability to store, manage, and use product data across multiple locations – with that data integrated with purchasing, finance, and stock control – helps you deliver customer satisfaction more profitably.
How should you prepare? What products will your customers want? Which suppliers can meet those needs? An integrated retail system yields the value-add information you need to answer these questions. With extensive reporting and analytics being standard, the best solutions identify 360-degree improvements across the organization.
For high performance with a low cost and flexible footprint, many modern retail software solutions come as cloud offerings; the best systems incorporate a suite of mobile apps for any time/anywhere responsiveness. Cloud apps traditionally enable growth at the same pace as your business, but enhanced security and compliance alleviate your exposure to events that hurt the business.
While many retailers appear healthy, a sickness has grown in their back-office processes and information quality. Implementing a system designed specifically for retailers will put your business on track to sustainable, profitable growth.
Contact us so we can help you map your back-office system success and bring together the valuable functions of your business.
One of our team will be in touch shortly.