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If you are looking to evolve your retail management software (RMS) so that you can more effectively exploit the opportunities of effective omnichannel retailing, then it pays to spend time thinking about the best way to go about it. 

You're not a retail software expert, and yet you realise there are some significant benefits of upgrading and maybe even unifying aspects of your RMS. Multichannel retailing may already have led you to linking inventory management systems more closely with eCommerce; or linking promotions across channels.

Whatever stage you are at on the omnichannel or multichannel retailing evolution specialist software knowledge is not required, so long as you stay focused on your business needs and use them as the reference point for shortlisting the retailing systems you favour.

OMNIS by Iconography
OMNIS by Iconography

Did you know that our Unified Commerce platform mixes eCommerce, RMS, CRM and EPoS to provide an award winning omnichannel solution?

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Why a retailing system needs constant review

Even with dire news headlines about Debenhams and Arcadia it’s a fact that roughly 75% of retail sales are still made in a shop and that if people do come into your store then they are two and a half times more likely to buy than if they are casually browsing your website.    

And while the pandemic may have advanced the adoption of more sophisticated eCommerce operations, the projections are for continued  steady (not exponential) growth in shopping online. This means that for the foreseeable future, and especially as the pandemic threat recedes, more than two thirds of sales will remain in-store.

With that in mind the art of successful retail management in the 2020s is about effective control of all of the activities that help customers acquire the desired products, services, and experiences from your physical and digital retail stores. 

Scope of a retail system review

The retail system can be broadly defined as  the combination of technology used to empower the customer experience and operate daily retail management processes. It includes retail software, hardware, telecommunications, databases, applications, inventory management systems, ecommerce and point-of-sale platforms.Specifically the software component of retail management systems will comprise of one or more core software solutions that handle checkout activity, inventory management systems, customer relationship management (CRM) and  eCommerce activity.

5 benefits of a retail system review

A thorough review will help provide deep insights into how your business is organised and contribute to ensuring your retail management tasks are being completed effectively.  It will help you to identify improvement needs and monitor the extent to which existing retail software, systems and related procedures are delivering on your objectives. Here’s five benefits of a retailing system review:

Uncover and solve irregularities and weak points in your RMS

Expose the errors and inefficiencies that poor retailer software integrations create

Improve and add to financial metrics, KPIs and team performance

Pinpoint training requirements for staff

Execute and devise new in-store techniques and practises

5 outcomes you should expect from implementing a retailing systems review

The review will help to deliver the understanding required to make your particular business case and identify the many benefits of investing in an upgraded retailing system. Implementation outcomes will include, for example:

Order and delivery error reduction to avoid time-sinks and lost revenue

Improved customer engagement and a better in-store experience

More accurate and quicker reporting

Enhanced inventory management systems

Reduced training, licensing and implementation costs

10 point plan to review retailing systems

The McKinsey research report: Reshaping Retail lays out in detail the evidence that retail technology underpins the ability of retailers to create value, scale their business, and operate quickly. We’ve outlined below a ten point plan to aid you in conducting your review of retailing systems.

1. Get people involved and define your needs

Decide who to involve and who will conduct the review. Provide the opportunity for people at all levels of the business to ask questions and offer up ideas. You know your business better than anyone so take the time to list out the specific things you really want to get to the bottom of. Mapping out your core business processes and critically evaluating them will help you to determine your needs.

2. Hardware and software

Any new retailer software needs to be compatible with existing hardware. So, knowing what hardware you have got now will help to profile that decision. New hardware and peripheral components may be part of your new plans, tablet devices for example, signature pads, credit card readers etc. 

3. Growth plans

The type of retail software solution and software integration that works well for a small independent retailer is inadequate for a chain retailer operating stores in several locations. How you plan to scale your operations and leverage technology to help you get there is a critical question to answer up front. 

4. Retail sector

While it may seem like a simple decision to consider a particular retailer software based on your retail category, the key to getting this right is to minimise integration. Understanding what your distinct functional and technical requirements are will help narrow the field of vendors.

5. Fragmented or unified?

Facing the frustration of your current set-up e.g. inventory management systems, will help you unpick what’s not working and why. It will inform whether the next stage is an evolution or a revolution. The questions are around how the core components of the current retailing system integrate with other key aspects of your business? Integrations are never seamless and so avoiding them is a priority.

6. Non core retail management software

Get clear about how your retail system talks to your existing peripheral software e.g. back office accounting.  What are the needs? What levels of technical support do you require and what are they costing you? How could this be improved? Total cost of ownership is a revealing factor in comparing one retail system with another,  and can be decisive in how to structure your retail management software solution. Minimising weak links is critical to ensuring that the retailer software you rely on is adaptable to existing infrastructure.

7. Updates and customer support

When comparing potential retail management software solutions to replace what you have currently, ask questions about the customer support policy and read the fine print. Is the support team in-house or a third-party agent? What are the hours of operation for tech support and the policy for onsite assistance? Will they meet your needs?

8. Technology platform

Old systems are often at full stretch and nearing breaking point. Be realistic about what you have. Retailers reviewing retail management software need to consider the technology choices vendors have made during the design and build of their systems. These choices matter for reasons of interoperability, performance, scalability, security and cost.

9. Saas in the cloud or on premise?

SaaS, or software-as-a-service, solutions are cloud based and web first. This means a faster time to value as you’ll have little downtime during implementation. Retailer software vendors are responsible for this process as well as any ongoing maintenance. Any updates or patches that are necessary for keeping your retail management software up and running are also automatically installed. 

10. Functionality

The review will tell you what functionality you have and identify the gaps. It's important to know what you're missing and to then compare this with what you could have. Remember that how this functionality is delivered is as important as what it does. The benefit of a fully unified system where one data source feeds the ecommerce, EPOS and retail management software is an ideal solution to work towards.

Embracing omnichannel retail

Developing your multi channel retailing strategy and evolving your retailer software to make the most of omni-channel retail means making the right investments in retailer software systems that allow a single view of the customer, better inventory management systems, and more efficient order taking and fulfilment processes. 

Reviewing your systems

Constant review of retailing system performance may not be realistic but the more often you do it then the better your system is likely to perform. Sharing and delegating the review will help engage other key members of your team. A really thorough review will reveal a lot about what could be put right. The benefits and outcomes of implementing a review will give you a good return on the investment of time, and it may even save you money over time. 

Moreover, implementing the right retail management software means you can deliver the unified end-to-end shopping experience customers expect. In the 2020s this is no longer a competitive advantage, but a basic requirement to thrive. 

If you’re interested in getting some expert help in reviewing your retailer software and exploring how a unified commerce platform can take your retailing system to the next level contact us below.

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OMNIS Retail

OMNIS was born out of the needs of a leading direct to consumer brand to support their online and instore retailing formats in the UK market. They were facing the same problems and challenges that present obstacles for any retailer.

As a progressive and forwarding thinking brand, our client wanted to remove the limitations, constraints and operational inefficiencies associated with integrating an eCommerce website with offline EPoS and legacy back office retail software.

We quickly saw the vast potential OMNIS possessed. It’s a need we’ve recognised with many other retailers and DTC brands that have similar aspirations and want to remove the restrictions of old retail technology and software.

In OMNIS you can create multiple warehouses with any number of locations, place purchase orders and complete stock transfers. We have a full range of reporting and administrative control suite. Together, these give you complete control and oversight over your stock across all channels.

Online and instore retail
Online and instore retail

OMNIS Retail is a pioneering new retail solution that has been driven by D2C brands & niche retailers looking to the future. A single database eliminates any data integration issues between outdated systems, instead providing a cloud-based omnicommerce retail solution fit for the 21st century.

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