Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can help retailers provide a seamless customer experience and grow brand loyalty.
The rise of E-commerce in Southeast Asia should come as no surprise. Supported by the increasing availability of affordable smartphones and the rollout of faster and more reliable mobile telecommunication services, the region now boasts a 415 million Internet users and a 129 per cent mobile penetration rate 1, according to a recent report by We Are Social and Hootsuite.
To tap on this opportunity in retail, it is important for
retailers to engage consumers through both online and offline channels during the purchasing process, providing the right information and ensuring that they enjoy the in-store experience. Retailers must truly embrace omnichannel if they are keen to tap into the region’s growth potential. By doing so, they will be able to deliver a cohesive and consistent customer experience across all channels, aiding greatly in attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.
The ability to offer a good omnichannel experience is almost solely dependent on the ERP system which powers business’ critical processes.
Let’s look at three ways that cloud ERP can help retailers provide a seamless customer experience and grow brand loyalty.
Improve Operational Efficiency
Delivering an omnichannel experience requires growing businesses to operate efficiently. Since cloud ERP unifies front-end and back-end solutions—such as inventory management and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions—into a single integrated system, it allows businesses to eliminate time-consuming manual tasks and streamline processes. This also enables them to have up-to-date information on hand to deliver relevant offers and services across their sales channels efficiently and seamlessly.
For instance, The Craftmark Group implemented cloud ERP to integrate its formerly disparate accounting, sales, and inventory systems into a single source of truth. The Singapore-based company has since been able to reduce the time spent on issuing purchase orders by 75 per cent and is now able to process orders faster, regardless of where the order is placed.
Provide a 360-degree View of the Customer
Having an accurate and complete view of their customers is crucial for growing retailers looking to provide a seamless customer experience. With Cloud ERP, customer data can be extracted from various systems and touch-points, and information such as a customer’s purchase history from a physical store or the queries or feedback that he left on the retailer’s social media accounts can be consolidated into a single repository. Retailers can use this information to deliver a consistent customer service across channels. Having a 360-degree view of customers also offers retailers the ability to better understand their customers’ shopping habits and preferences, empowering them to provide customised marketing, merchandising and targeted promotions across all channels.
Take the case of Shanghai Tang for example. By using cloud ERP to integrate its business applications such as CRM, accounting, and loyalty processes, the Hong Kong luxury fashion house centralised its customer information with lasting benefits. With a comprehensive view of its customers’ data across all of its 48 boutiques, it can quickly identify opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, and offer personalised engagements. Shanghai Tang also gained access to real-time visibility into its operations at both subsidiary and headquarter levels after deploying cloud ERP. This allows it to make informed critical decisions to address changing customer demands in a timely manner.
Provide a Flexible Information Technology (IT) Backbone
According to Gartner’s 2018 CEO Survey: Midsize Enterprise Spotlight report, competition is the second biggest external constraint on growth for businesses. 2 For retailers, this means the ability to provide smooth and seamless customer experience—especially during peak periods such as sales seasons—is an important competitive advantage. Cloud ERP offers retailers the speed and agility required to react to new or unexpected business demands as it enables them to dynamically scale their IT infrastructure up or down as and when required.
This is exemplified in the case of Reebonz. Since cloud ERP provides the ability to quickly scale up the IT infrastructure, the Singapore-based online retailer is now able to ensure uptime of its Web site even when faced with high-web traffic volumes during sales periods.
Retail has become a complex environment comprised of numerous sales channels and customer touch points. With more ways to engage a brand, customers are in the driver’s seat. To deliver on expectations of a seamless, consistent customer experience across channels, growing retailers in Southeast Asia will need to ensure that their IT system is integrated and flexible enough to meet current and future business demands. By doing so, they will be able to streamline operations and use data to deliver exceptional omnichannel experiences, which will result in customer loyalty and enable them to capture a slice of the region’s expected E-commerce growth.
1 Datareportal, 31 January 2019, Digital 2019: Global Digital Overview. Assessed via https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2019-globaldigital-overview
2 A, Schulte, J Ruggero, D Rotigel, 10 July 2018. 2018 CEO Survey: Midsize Enterprise Spotlight, Figure 3, Gartner.
Copyright © 2019 Singapore Institute of Management