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Retail Information Systems Identified as Crucial Investments by Retailers

For retailers seeking to expand operations into different channels, one of the most critical factors in growing and enhancing business operations is establishing a comprehensive technology framework that supports these developments. According to industry research, merchants are increasingly turning to retail information systems to develop multi-channel operations through data consolidation and a unified technological infrastructure.

Merchants are finding that in order to succeed in today’s retail environment, they need to adapt their business models to keep pace with emerging markets and changing customer expectations. By creating a seamless, consistent, and comprehensive multi-channel strategy through innovative retail software systems, merchants are better equipped to sustain and grow business in different channels.

Merchants are quickly understanding the importance of connected, varied retail channels, and are citing it as one of their top business priorities. According to "Succeeding in Multi-Channel Commerce" by Acquity Group, 56% of merchants surveyed either have or plan to have integrated systems for shoppers across sales channels – website, email, mobile, catalog and social – in the next two years.

Another primary business investment for retailers is updating existing operational systems. With retailers now realizing that supply chain systems once thought robust cannot meet rising customer expectations, the 2012 RIS/Gartner Retail Technology Study titled "Embracing Change" states that 25% of merchants with real time inventory systems have systems that are up-to-date, with 15% – the next highest level – saying they have started but not finished the process of updating their systems.

With the exponential rise of smartphones as a major consumer technology platform, merchants are also looking to embrace this new technology and initiate a mobile commerce strategy. In the 2012 RIS/Gartner Retail Technology Study, the majority of retailers surveyed are either planning or testing a mobile commerce strategy, or have an existing strategy – 46% of merchants are currently in the planning stages; 24% have pilots in progress; and 10% have a fully functional mobile strategy in place.

In addition to new, rising technologies, traditional brick-and-mortar stores also form an important part of a multi-channel retail plan. Creating a differentiated shopping experience for customers is a key factor in enhancing brick-and-mortar store retail operations, a concept that merchants recognize and are trying to incorporate. One such practice that addresses this is enabling customers to place orders for out of stock and specialty items from the store, with retailers providing self-service interactive screens in-store that allow customers to place those orders.

To effectively manage order processes – especially if customers are creating specialty orders – merchants require a cohesive order distribution system. Of the merchants surveyed in the 2012 RIS/Gartner Retail Technology Study who have an order distribution system in place, 25% said they have their systems up-to-date, with 15% saying they have started but not finished.

By re-evaluating existing retail business and technology practices, and by delivering a fully connected, integrated shopping experience to customers, retailers will gain a significant advantage over the competition.

To learn more about important strategies that can help improve your retail operations, download our infographic 10 Multi-channel Strategies to Keep You On Top.

And if you have any questions about the strategies, or would like more information on which retail information systems are best for your business, please email us at retail@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.

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