The retail sector remains under pressure. The cost of living, inflation, rising interest rates and a global economic recession continue to impact sales and growth, asking that retailers find smarter and more sustainable ways of navigating these headwinds. According to Deloitte’s 2023 retail industry outlook, retailers need to find resiliency and invest in solutions that ‘elevate business strategy beyond traditional cost cutting’.
One of the key ways in which retailers can enhance their existing systems and approaches while bedding down sustainability is to invest in capable technology. The ability to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions and uncertainty has become a critical success point for the modern retailer. This is wedded to the need to ensure that customers remain loyal and connected at a time when they too are cutting expenditure to make ends meet. Technology empowers the organisation, providing the insights, data and functionality it needs to identify the trends, revise strategies and engage with customers.
“Enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms have evolved from weighty and overly complex solutions that inhibit business processes to modular and intelligent toolkits that deliver immense value,” says Stephen Howe, director at Times 3 Technologies, a Sage Platinum Partner. “An intelligent blend of ERP functions across finance, inventory management, sales, human resources, and supply chain, to name a few, offers retailers invaluable visibility into the business. Using the insights provided by your ERP the business can enhance, if not completely transform decision-making, and uncover new growth opportunities.”
In addition to the obvious value that ERP delivers around data and insights, it also assists in streamlining processes, improving operational capabilities, and saving on costs. This is where the return on investment (ROI) comes in. ERP is an investment into a comprehensive ecosystem that wraps the business in layers of functionality and provides immense scalability and visibility and is worth the investment if it’s implemented in line with your business strategies and infrastructure. And this means that you need to know exactly how well it’s performing and ensure that your ERP delivers on your anticipated ROI.
“Your ERP system touches so many different parts of your business which means that measuring benefits is made so much easier,” says Howe. “Your first step is to unpack precisely why you have your ERP system in place, or why you are choosing to invest in an ERP system, as this will provide you with clarity around ROI and measurement metrics as you move down the road.”
Retailers want efficiencies across the supply chain, costs, HR and finance. These are key areas that require ongoing visibility and control as these can be high-cost centres for the sector. To ensure that you achieve your ROI on this investment there are three key steps your business can take. The first is training – ensuring that your users understand the system and have the understanding they need to leverage it correctly is of paramount importance. Why? Because without their buy-in and skillsets, the system won’t be used to its full potential and there is the risk that it won’t be used correctly due to employee resentment and distrust. You want everyone on board to ensure that the system really works for the business and your people.
The second step is to ensure that there is buy-in from every individual in the business, starting at the top progressing to the bottom. If everyone understands the why of your ERP investment, then they will be more committed to the training and to using the system efficiently. The third step is to create a cycle of constant evaluation and assessment – test, try, test and try again. This approach ensures that if the system isn’t quite working for your business, you constantly iterate and tweak it until it does. You want your ERP optimised and relevant for your business to gain true value.
“If you can introduce efficiencies, save costs on unnecessary expenditure, and use data to refine processes and operations, you will save money by default,” says Howe. “Your ERP is an incredibly intelligent behemoth capable of radically transforming how you do business, but only if you are realistic in implementation, have solid change management strategies in place, and constantly refine it to ensure you get the most from its functionalities.”
Running your business in the cloud with an ERP system designed to fit your needs and to deliver ROI doesn’t have to be overly complicated or daunting. Sage X3 is ideal for retailers who want the right levels of ERP functionality without all the cost and complexity. This popular ERP platform manages everything within your business from sales to inventory to CRM and purchasing, and with T3T’s add-ons, it can be refined to ensure your organisation performs at optimum levels while delivering on ROI.