An ERP is a business management solution that integrates all functional areas of an enterprise- planning, manufacturing, sales, marketing, inventory control, purchasing, supply chain, customer service, finance, human resources etc. Ideally this should be a single system with centralized storage of data at the core with different dashboards and user interfaces for various functional areas.

Managers who control multichannel businesses generally voice the need or preference for a single comprehensive ERP solution that deals effectively with all of them. They have to deal with a number of business channels like physical stores, direct marketing, web operations etc and the number of software vendors that have been able to keep up with their needs can be counted on your fingers.

Having a single system controlling the plethora of channels and their functional areas using a common buyer, inventory, order and item database would really work for them. Unfortunately, the options are few and far between.

Traditional ERP vendors who began with a manufacturing and financial orientation have tried to create appropriate functionalities in their solutions to target the multichannel business scenario. Niche ERP vendors are also trying to expand functionalities in their solutions and try to look and be more comprehensive in their offerings to the multichannel business world. Both have achieved limited success with the niche ERP solutions being preferred and a better fit in more complex environments and the traditional ERP solutions being preferred in broad based and less complex scenarios.

The unique challenges of the world of multichannel retail combined with the large number of players in the multichannel world of SMB (Small and medium business) retail have yet to bridge a gap in the offerings and functionality provided by current vendors vis a vis the actual needs of the multichannel players.

Finding a suitable one stop comprehensive ERP solution amongst the traditional/niche ERP vendors for a multichannel SMB retail business could be a huge challenge for some.

ERP vendors trying to attract mid-sized firms in the retail sphere have met with turbulence in terms of closing sales with their leads expressing concerns about the quality of domain knowledge of ERP vendors and the commitments of service attention after the ERP has been set up.

Scalability, entry costs, time for implementation for the ERP have also been key concerns of potential customers. Managing upgrade hassles and creating appropriate infrastructure are also key issues. Traditional on-premise ERP costs level out after a longer period (say 10 years) but could be obsolete then in terms of compliance and business needs.

Successful ERP implementation is not a plug and play scenario and requires a good amount of professional discipline too. Implementation times have traditionally been between 12 to 18 months in on-premise systems but could be in a matter of hours for a cloud based ERP solution.

It has been seen that niche vendors with deeper functionalities relevant to the business domain are competing successfully with the larger vendors with a broader outlook. The cloud has transformed the ERP buyer’s entry barriers and addressed the major concerns by downsizing entry licensing fees, upgrade burdens, infrastructure costs, manpower needs and set up times. Security concerns have been adequately addressed and are no longer a key issue. Comprehensive cloud based ERP’s with CRM modules integrated with functional modules in all business areas are the preferred choice of many especially the SMBs.

Here are some points to consider in choosing an ERP solution:

  1. Has the solution demonstrated competence in your domain and does it have the necessary functionalities?
  2. Does a cloud based SaaS model suit your needs or do you need an on-premise ERP?
  3. Can it handle your direct marketing needs?
  4. Are all the operations well integrated- web, brick and mortar, direct marketing?
  5. Is it suitable for your reporting, catalog planning, forecasting, data analysis and merchandising needs?
  6. Is it well integrated in your communication systems?
  7. Is accounting integrated with an automated supply chain and at the point of sales?
  8. Is there no duplication of effort?
  9. Does it handle recalls and complaints well?
  10. Does it allow customization?
  11. Is it scalable and future ready in terms of forecast compliance and market needs?
  12. Does it have a written commitment to customer support?
  13. What are the referral customers saying about their quality of experience with the ERP?

Here are a few suggestions in doing the groundwork before the purchase:

  • Compare with other products that are suitable and relevant
  • Look for the product feedback via your business/social media contacts and secondary research on the internet
  • Look for success stories relevant to your business domain/vertical
  • Ask for a free demo and check with current users of the ERP
  • Check the suitability with reference to the key business issues that got you started looking for an ERP solution in the first place
  • Evaluate the experience, reputation and competence of the team behind the solution

We at VersAccounts have created a cloud based one stop comprehensive ERP solution that is retail ready. It offers well developed functionalities that are relevant even for multichannel business scenario. It is affordable and targeted towards SMB’s and is backed by a promise of dedicated support. It is being used by clients in diverse verticals and could help you redefine the way you operate and grow your business.

We’d love to hear from you.

To know more, please visit www.versaccounts.com or contact us directly.

References:

http://www.fcbco.com/articles-and-whitepapers/articles/bid/129482/ERP-Software-in-the-Multichannel-World