Multi-channel retail is the buzz word and the trending business mantra for retailers everywhere.  A multi-channel retail presence is seen as a success factor for those hoping to grow in the retail space and this includes even the goliaths. As the call came from changing from a brick and mortar store to an online one, the new mantra is to include both. Managing both could be a veritable operations and a consolidation nightmare.

An ERP solution that takes care of multi-channel issues with the least blood, sweat and tears is the panacea for an industry segment with myriad integration issues. The solution needs to be mature enough to do the following apart from the regular functionalities associated with a comprehensive ERP:

  1. Each customer should be identifiable across any channel- when he/she orders online, uses mobile apps or even over the phone. This will help in greater personalization and customizing the offering based on preferences. The same ID should be identifiable over multiple product ordering sites of a seller with a single log in. Any updating of customer data and preferences should be reflected across all the channels in real time.
  2. The inventory figures across channels should reflect the same numbers and there should not be a mismatch between reflected figures on any one of them. For example, an item may be showing that it is available on the website but the actual figures in the store show that it is out of stock. This can cause abandoned shopping carts and lost customers at a critical stage in the sales funnel. Inventory updating must be possible in real time across channels.
  3. It should have the ability to offer the customer multiple choices for ordering and delivery:
  • Order online, collect at store
  • Order online, collect at nearby pickup point
  • Order in store with home delivery
  • Order online, with home delivery
  • Order from the app, customized delivery
  • Premium same day delivery or in hours
  • Order via phone, customized delivery etc

This must be done so that the system can support different modes of ordering and payment options with the critical part being on time delivery as per customer preferences. Also, the system must be able to respond quickly and effectively to change requests by the customer.

  1. The brand experience must be consistent across channels as customer acquisition is largely driven by the buzz around a brand and the customer retention is driven by the uniformity of the brand experience. The brand mantra well implemented remains at the heart of the experience. The quality of customer service supported by an adequate sales and support infrastructure should be enhanced by the operability of the ERP solution too. Customer feedback, effective response to complaints and grievance redressal are the keys to brand building. Also, the pricing and promotion structure and strategy must be consistent across all channels or you will have to face the ire of potential customers or even existing ones- the ERP should ensure proper updating of prices in real time.
  2. Product returns also must be enabled across channels- this is a difficult one and is a work in progress for many. Making returns hassle free will drive customer retention, referrals and repeat purchases. Items bought online and returned in store are the easy part relatively speaking. Items bought in store and returned online would have most sweating.
  3. It should be ready for targeting international customers too. This may mean operability in the local language and with conformance to local compliance and governance needs. It should be ready to address foreign exchange issues and appropriate regulation in that nation.
  4. Can it handle just about any secure payment method possible? With the plethora of payment methods, unavailability of a payment method may lead to a lost customer. Hence all payment methods must be able to be securely integrated with the ERP with alerts for failed transactions and real time updating of balances with a prompt to initiate delivery.
  5. What is the level of security conformance of the solution? The solution should conform to accepted industry norms and standards for security or even exceed them.
  6. It should have automated real time alerts for ordering and refilling stock.
  7. It should be able to track individual customer buying behavior and preferences with a view to predicting and forecasting future requirements.
  8. Vendor rating should be enabled based on customer feedback and the actual perceptions of product quality and performance and will help you in ordering better products and attaining higher levels of customer satisfaction.
  9. There should be automated alerts for customer deadlines, product availability and preference matches, logistics tracking and dropped transactions.
  10. The solution should be a comprehensive one so that the retailer does not have to navigate between and deal with the nightmare of multiple standalone solutions.

Ultimately, the customer is at the heart of the ecosystem and the goal is to attract, serve him/her, maintain relations & address grievances with the least inconvenience and in the best manner possible that is win-win for both. The bottom line is to enable greater customer satisfaction leading to customer delight as enshrined in Kano’s model while earning a profit. An ERP can foster optimize processes, control them well so that waste is minimal and accurate data driven decisions can be made.

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. We are working towards creating the best possible solution for you and are driven by that goal. 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.

Reference:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140804094749-4780246-six-challenges-to-leadership-in-multi-channel-retail