The greatest incentive to migrate to a mobile ERP stems from the powerful impact of creating new processes altogether. It is also a smart way to overhaul a specific business function, such as sales. It makes sense, then, that retailers are so obsessed with a new idea you might think of as “Omni-Commerce.” Marketing and selling to customers whenever—and wherever they are is no longer a nice-to-have feature. It’s an essential strategy.
To appreciate the business value of mobile technology, we need to pay attention to the way mobility has shaped consumers’ thinking. Keep in mind that carrying smart phones or even tablets everywhere has led us to expect instant gratification.
When a consumer experiences a sight, sound, or smell that triggers a need—real or perceived—mobile devices have the tools to satisfy that urge—right then, right there. To win the sale, a business needs to anticipate this compulsion, and be more immediately accessible than competitors.
Fortunately, this is possible with mobile commerce, which is well within reach for small and mid-market manufacturers. All mobile solutions are not alike, though. Users embrace a mobile ERP and specialized apps when they have a very high level of trust in the reliability of the data presented.
Furthermore, the system needs to be easy to learn and use for individuals with varying levels of technical proficiency. Ultimately, it must create a far better experience than ever before. This takes an app that is a good fit for your company’s needs, which might even found right in the app store, aka “off the shelf.”
WEB STORES FALL SHORT
To illustrate how omni-commerce might work, let’s say a consumer named Sally is driving down the boulevard and spots a billboard advertising a pair of heels that would look absolutely amazing with the dress she’s wearing to a big party the next day. She pulls off the road (of course), then uses her smartphone to do a Google search for these perfect pumps. In a flash, she finds the shoes on the retailer’s website! Sally is smiling, and so is the retailer. You, not so much. Why not? Your company doesn’t have page 1 ranking, so you didn’t get that sale.
Hold on, though. Sally hasn’t submitted payment yet. There may be another way to be the retailer of choice. Sally sees the overnight shipping cost, and can’t justify it. If your store has a good mobile app, you can enable her impulse purchase and get the sale! The app can help her find the closest location with the right color and size in stock. Even better, with a tap on a map, she automatically links to directions to pick them up now. Sally is one happy customer, and you both win!
WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTORS & THEIR CUSTOMERS CARRY SMARTPHONES, TOO.
Mobile ERP can provide similar opportunities for small and mid-sized distributors and manufacturers. Here’s an example: Suarez Brothers (a fictional name) is a wholesale distributor of beauty supply products serving approximately 600 retail and re-distribution customers scattered far and wide throughout Central and Southern California. The sales reps support their customers with a direct sales force of 8, each assigned a territory of customers who they visit on a regular basis, with the primary purpose of taking new orders.
Our company, xkzero, equipped Suarez with iSales 100, the native iPhone-iPad sales app for Sage 100 ERP a couple of years ago. iSales 100 allows sales reps to place orders on the spot, which are electronically fed directly into Sales Order Entry for next-day picking and delivery. While the mobile sales app led to increased productivity, after this process was in place, a consistent theme of business problems became apparent.
Suarez had been struggling to keep the shelves stocked with inventory demanded by customers. They simply did not have enough salespeople on the street to visit every single customer each week. Consequently, they were losing orders—and market share. (One might say they were a day late and a dollar short.) A logical solution could have been to hire another salesperson or two, forcing higher labor costs. It would have also worsened another problem—the increasing travel costs to visit customers located in remote, rural areas.
CHARTING AN OMNI-COMMERCE SOLUTION
Suarez’s goals were clear. First, hold the line to maintain customers. Then, increase customer loyalty and market share. Also, reduce costs. To achieve these goals, the owners turned to xkzero for help. We were able to solve their problems in a way that didn’t require the customer to buy any additional software.
Suarez merely took advantage of the flexibility inherent in iSales 100 and moved toward an omni-commerce approach, providing the customer with unprecedented freedom in the way they purchased goods. They could now buy product without the distributor’s assistance, and no longer had to wait for a customer sales rep to visit or even give them a call.
Here’s what Suarez did to meet their market share, loyalty, and cost goals:
- Assigned a user ID and password to each store
- Restricted customer information access to their own account only
- Filtered the list of inventory items available to each particular customer
- Changed settings to indicate that a customer cannot override calculated price (The app already follows pricing rules established in the ERP.)
- Set preferences to require customer signature
- Set defaults for each customer’s available warehouse(s)
- Set a default to automatically place customer-initiated orders on hold
- Orchestrated a campaign to orient targeted customers to the new ordering option
iSales 100 provided every necessary control to give Suarez’s customers access to the mobile app. Suarez was even able to implement everything on the back-end set up in Sage 100 ERP within a few short hours. Now, with iSales 100, customers have the independence to make purchases from Suarez directly from the store aisle, using their smartphone or tablet.
The results are restored customer loyalty and improved market share, with the added bonus of reduced travel and sales costs. These small steps make it easy for retail customers to reduce or eliminate out-of-stock situations, and keep inventory levels just right–for final consumers like Sally. Customer freedom to shop and purchase from anywhere, anytime—that is the essence of omni-commerce. That is the promise of iSales 100.
To learn more about how xkzero can help you develop a mobile ERP strategy to fit your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-416-2009.