"Connecting both worlds without media breaks is key"
Interview with Eric Selzer, Sales Manager at Intelligix IT-Services GmbH
Eric Selzer: "A modern inventory management system should bridge the gaps between the processes of traditional brick-and-mortar and online retail."
Meeting the needs of the modern customer is a challenge for many retailers. Today, many customers no longer think in terms of channels, in stark contrast to many (even big) players in the retail sector. This is why it is vitally important for retailers to sensibly connect the channels to provide customers with a truly seamless shopping experience. To do this, they need to optimize their processes and invest in a modern and powerful IT infrastructure.
Mr. Selzer, what IT infrastructure should a retailer have, who wants to sensibly connect his/her brick-and-mortar and online business?
To connect brick-and-mortar with online business, the retailer first needs internet access in the store. A wireless LAN network is affordable at this point. Those, who want to provide customers with an additional service, can provide a respective guest access feature in their wireless LAN configuration. If you want to avoid legal pitfalls, you can completely outsource this wireless LAN service. Installation, configuration and operation are subsequently assumed by one of the renowned network service providers.
The operation of additional applications – aside from an ERP or inventory management system – such as an online store for instance can also be completely handled by a service provider. A cloud solution typically makes sense for hosting the business solution. The investment is significantly lower and security considerably higher than if you managed the operation on your own.
A modern inventory management system is an important prerequisite for efficient multichannel retailing. What features should it provide?
A modern inventory management system should bridge the gaps between the processes of traditional brick-and-mortar and online retail. Central master data maintenance and integrated process execution is certainly a basic prerequisite to make the processes efficient with no media breaks. For a company to work effectively in multichannel retailing and offer the customer an added value at the same time, the focus –among other things- needs to be on the following points:
Price maintenance should be individually editable for the different distribution channels.
Connecting different online stores should be feasible through a suitable variable interface.
Central order processing should consolidate the orders from the different channels in the system to organize the additional processes in an efficient and primarily customer-oriented manner. On the road to successful omnichannel retailing, the focus is on customer experience management.
When it comes to product shipment, regardless of whether the customer receives shipment for products bought at the store or online, the system should come with an order picking solution and connection to the usual shipping providers. Keeping customer experience in mind, tracking information to the customer is essential in this case.
To be able to offer customers the desired services of today, the employee at the POS also needs direct access to all relevant information. How can a modern point of sale system help in this case?
Connecting both worlds without media breaks is key, since the retailer wants to offer the consumer an added benefit through service. Just handling the sales portion at the POS is no longer sufficient in this day and age and particularly in retail in the future.
Whether it is at the checkout, via Smartphone or tablet app, the POS provides many opportunities to considerably simplify workflows and even improve the customer experience:
Retailers should for instance not just have the opportunity to search inventory at a store at the POS, but to send items directly to the customer upon request. With the customer’s consent, he or she provides his or her information, which retailers can in turn use for additional customer retention measures via the system.
Applications also need to be flexible for various application areas. These days, functions that were typically carried out by the back office in the past, now often need to be directly available at the POS. This aspect can also be supported with new additional tablet computers. The sales associate has important functions such as inventory information for instance or the online store available on the tablet as an app and is able to service the customer.
What’s more, given the latest technology and of course a unique connection with the POS and inventory management systems, the POS also offers many opportunities to maximize the customer experience as it pertains to the omnichannel concept.
Many retailers utilize the IT solutions required for linked multichannel commerce via the Cloud. What advantages does cloud computing offer commercial enterprises?
Scalability, data backup, data security, high availability, a cost-effective leasing solution, IT cost reduction, investment safety and location-independent data access are just some of the advantages with private cloud solutions using legally compliant data management in Germany.
The opportunity for expansion and extension of application areas for the retailer via the cloud are virtually endless. Cloud services can be increased at any time as required. With the right partner, you are also guaranteed to always work with the most recent version of software and subsequently the latest developments and options of an ERP or inventory management solution.
This is essential in this very dynamic commercial environment, given the increasing number of applications.