Enterprise Resource Planning software offers a range of solutions for retail, including point-of-sale or POS software, and other aspects of product handling and sales support software for businesses. Here are some of the specific types of retail sectors where ERP lends a helping hand.
One significant category of ERP is made for more general or generic retail sales processes. The relevant tools can run the gamut, from product handling features to customer relationship management software, and customer loyalty and satisfaction tools
These kinds of functionality help measure and evaluate relationships between businesses and their customers.
Various business intelligence features help the retail business to look at inventories, sales numbers, and business processes the right way, to know more about what’s going on in any kind of shop on an ongoing basis.
Other tools will help with specific business processes around retail, such as brick and mortar store administration, price margin evaluation, and stocking.
Farm and Home Retail
Many of the best ERP tools for farm and home retail take into account the types of products and equipment on sale in these kinds of businesses.
Order entry and tracking systems can help managers supervise e-commerce operations, while mobile POS equipment can help with wrangling different sizes and volumes of items on the floor. Think of this as a “Home Depot” model — where versatile mobile POS tools can help businesses sell small items like cans of paint, and large items like bagged concrete or mulch, or contractor materials like lumber.
Other aspects of farm and home retail ERP will help with inventory and the supply chain process. These businesses may need to evaluate where inventory is being kept, to keep an eye on real estate costs and other aspects of business.
Finally, the ERP software can include the specific kinds of CRM that this segment of the industry needs, for instance, help with handling seasonal promotions, coupons, and more.
Pharmacy business has become a complex operation.
ERP tools targeted to this unique industry will help handle inventory and address customer-facing interactions, while also providing backup support for fax and e-prescription processes and other methods of legitimizing pharmacy sales.
Mobile POS will help provide the ability to ring up pharmacy transactions at various checkout locations, while record-keeping features will help manage the regulatory requirements around the drug purchases. Pharmacies can also integrate point-of-sale touchscreens, discount or coupon offers, customer loyalty programs and versatile pricing, as well as certain kinds of credit card processing tools. Inventory management features will help handle demand and supply for a multitude of different drug products.
In general, pharmacy ERP will take into account both sides of this retail business: first, the “regular” customer-facing side, with CRM, pricing tools and more, and second, the healthcare side, with a wealth of features built to help the pharmacy business interface with doctors, facilities administrators or other stakeholders in the prescription process.
In the automotive retail sector, different pricing tools will assist in building current and up-to-date prices for OEM and aftermarket products, while parts identification features will help control inventory. Other ERP tools may offer distributor information in order to track the availability of parts for various models.
An ERP parts I.D. functionality will help businesses with large catalogs, and other documentation resources can handle data on warranties and specialized order information. The automotive retail ERP system has to have complexity, in order to handle a complex and diverse inventory of parts, for a customer base driving many different types of vehicles.
In addition, automotive retail can include a need for archived information. For example, staffers may need to know about environmental requirements for vehicle operations. Some ERP tools for the automotive space can also accommodate these types of archiving, and present this information to a workforce through an intranet, through the cloud or by other means.
B2B or Contractor Centers
For businesses that sell wholesale, or sell to a specific B2B community of contractors or business customers, ERP tools can be built to accommodate these specialized types of transactions.
Customer relationship management tools on this site may be somewhat different, with company identification fields (instead of personal customer profiles) and other resources.
Automated purchase tools can be helpful for B2B transactions. Items like role-based task lists, identity access management features, and special order tools can help to micromanage all of those aspects of a B2B deal that go on in the marketplace. Again, business intelligence tools will show business leaders how their customers are accessing their products, and how they can innovate to help serve these customers better.
Building on the idea of large-scale or high-volume purchases, B2B systems can also provide for the shipment and handling of large volumes of inventory, for example, for large items such as brick, gypsum, wood or concrete orders, as well as items like doors, panels and other building products.
Paint and Decorative Supply Businesses
ERP tools can also support specialized businesses, such as a store selling paint and decorating items.
Some of the tools in this type of customized ERP could be similar to other retail sectors — for example, resources will not only offer e-commerce and point-of-sale functionality, but also cover elements like business reporting, customer relationship management, integration of network devices, and different types of information-handling features. However, they will also help with the specific demands of this type of industry, where materials may need to be tracked by pigment, viscosity or other precise physical metrics.
Retail ERP for a paint and decorative business can help with every aspect of the sales transaction, from special order processing to high-speed credit card authorization.
All of these services support businesses that need to serve a customer base with particular needs. For example, most paint orders require a specialized process where the customer will either use available color samples, or order colors according to hexadecimal values on a computer, or otherwise specify a particular shade or hue through some technical process. The paint then has to be physically mixed to a particular standard, and the materials have to be marked for a particular customer order.
To support this type of retail, specialized ERP tools will put in place specific safeguards for customer identification. They’ll make sure that the exact color matches what the customer has ordered, and that the right customer gets the right shipment or order. This is part of customization for this particular sector of retail. In some cases, items such as paints, candles or refrigerated items like flowers need particular types of “best-practice” cold chain storage: the ERP tools can cover this type of issue accordingly.
To understand how ERP software supports a specialty shop, think about the most unusual types of assets or products offered to a customer base.
For example, think about a high-end painting by a famous artist — or a classic car, or a guitar signed by a star musician.
What all of these items have in common is that the goods in question are not mass-manufactured goods — they are unique artifacts and assets that need to be sold in a very particular way.
As any pawn shop manager can tell you, selling these types of specialized goods is much different from working in other kinds of retail. So the ERP tools have to support those differences.
One of the most fundamental ways that specialized ERP software will support specialty goods processes is by including more fields and functions related to identifying the properties of individually unique pieces.
Instead of having bar-coded product numbers or SKUs, these items will have in-depth background attached to them, in many cases, with supportive documentation about valuation, professional appraisal, customized warranty and more. Every aspect of these individual assets or artifacts has to be as transparent as possible, to support clear valuation and fair market values.
Many of these items also require a chain of custody that can also be put into digital ERP software for this retail sector. In addition, ERP for specialty retail will have all the usual features revolving around transaction support, bookkeeping utilities and more.
Yet another category of retail supported by ERP is that category that exists in a specialized section of a department store – retail for sporting goods and entertainment products.
Since this is a less isolated segment of retail, many of the ERP tools will be more generalized. Some of them may put a premium on quick checkout and transactions — making it more convenient, for example, to purchase something like a DVD or a media smart card or flash drive.
Other ERP products for this segment will focus on supporting information, for instance, archiving details about what a particular product does, and how it supports a recreational activity.
Third Party E-Commerce
Some firms may make a business out of drop shipping items from third party manufacturers directly to customers over the Internet. Many of these businesses do not have brick and mortar stores – they are Internet-exclusive. As such, they have different kinds of overhead, and much less overhead in specific physical categories.
One part of what these third-party e-commerce stores do is network with suppliers to make sure that individual and customers have the right information about products, that demand and supply are accounted for, and that the drop shipping process generally goes well.
These companies will often have quite a high customer service burden — they will have to have someone on hand to deal with customer questions and concerns. Because they do not have brick and mortar offices or stores, they will need some way for the customer to interface with them to troubleshoot problems or talk about orders.
ERP for these types of operations will generally have features facing the customer service individuals who need to maintain the drop shipper’s reputation through problem-handling. They may have sophisticated order capture or customer service ticket systems to make sure that no incoming customer query falls through the cracks. They will also maintain in-depth archives with product information because again, the customer can’t go directly to the manufacturer or observe the product in a physical store. That makes digital product specification and demonstrations very important for these types of businesses. ERP tools may offer agile change or addition for these digital, online catalogs.
In all of the above ways, ERP supports many different types of retail. Sophisticated and state-of-the-art ERP tools really allow the business to specialize in its own unique area, and innovate when it comes to selling a specific type and variety of products.