Omni-Commerce: A Customer First Approach with Mobile ERP

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.

Give your customer their own app and you they might give you a gold star!

Give your customer their own app and you they might give you a gold star!

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 info@xkzero.com or 847-416-2009.

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DSD can be a retailer’s dream.

 

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Direct Store Delivery (DSD) is such a treat for many retailers. Delivery reps take on a lot of the work, replenishment can happen on the spot, payment terms never hold up the sales process, and they provide a personal link to the supplier.

Labor Cost Savings for Retailers
A supplier’s DSD rep takes care of a lot of the work that retailers would otherwise have to shell out hourly wages for employees to handle. These retail workers only have to rotate stock, face shelves, maintain displays, and keep promotional signage for products provided by suppliers not using DSD.

According to a survey by GMA and AMR Research (2007), “reduced merchandising labor requirements” and “someone else taking care of replenishment” were the top two benefits of the DSD process. This was followed by the “ability to quickly implement store-level assortment,” “improve the customer experience,” “increased ownership of the supplier for product at the shelf,” and “faster cash returns.”

See the blog post by xkzero,
What is Direct Store Delivery (DSD)?
for a more in-depth explanation
of this method of goods distribution.

Payment Terms
Although many stores choose to pay on the spot, with DSD, retailers can receive new product now and get billed later. Shelves can even be replenished several times before payment is due, which keeps the cash flowing.

Replenishment Needs
DSD products are often impulse buy items, so they easily fly off the shelves—especially when displayed with promotional signage. Stores can alert the supplier’s rep to bring an extra case of soda, for example, or make an unscheduled delivery if stock is unusually low.

Personal Connection
Since reps make frequent stops at a location, they have an opportunity to connect with the store and its employees, and have a better sense of customer needs. This personal interaction between delivery rep and store manager is also a valuable link in strengthening the business relationship.

To learn more about Direct Store Delivery and how xkzero can help drive sales and profits for your distribution business please contact us:
info@xkzero.com or 847-416-2009.

You’ll also find more about DSD on our website:
http://www.xkzero.com/mobilecommerce/

DSD: Partnership Between Supplier and Retailer

With Direct Store Delivery (DSD) Retailers and Suppliers work closely together right in the retailer's store

With Direct Store Delivery (DSD) Retailers and Suppliers work closely together right in the retailer’s store

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Direct Store Delivery (DSD) is the process of getting goods into retail stores by delivery reps that regularly fill shelves with their products, take payments, and manage merchandising. This method of distribution benefits both the supplier and the retailer, who are essentially partners whose efforts support each other’s growth. The store and distributor relationship is especially key as we businesses look to accommodate shopper preferences and adapt to retail models.

Suppliers using DSD make frequent visits to stores to keep shelves full. This allows both suppliers and retailers to cater to individual store needs, accommodate new requests and deliver the freshest items available—especially those with quick expiration dates such as bread or produce.

See the blog post by xkzero,
What is Direct Store Delivery (DSD)?
for a more in-depth explanation
of this method of goods distribution.

Retailers like this because when they keep the products customers demand stocked, shoppers know they can count on their store to have the item they regularly purchase. That means repeat customers. Translation—more cash for both the retailer and the supplier.

DSD has become so established that stores and suppliers now often hold meetings to discuss ways to create joint-value. There, they discuss sales goals, evaluate the success of promotions, and share any shifts in shopper behavior patterns. Consumer habits reviewed may include the days of the week on which people shop, which may influence the choice to shift the delivery schedule. These partners also collaborate on the collection of point-of-sale data and other information through GS1 Trade Partner Performance Measures (TPPM). In addition, periodically, delivery reps may present customer “scorecards” to show how they rank in terms of sales and promotion performance.

To learn more about how xkzero can help drive sales and profits for your distribution business, please contact us at info@xkzero.com or 847-416-2009.

You’ll also find more about DSD on our website at http://www.xkzero.com/mobilecommerce/