Archive

Archive for the ‘Point of Sale’ Category

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail Implementation Best Practices

July 8th, 2014 No comments

I recently presented on this topic at the AX Users Group (AXUG) and have summarized best practices to focus on when doing the implementation. The key areas this blog article will focus on are

  • Scope of Implementation
  • Rollout
  • Change Management

Scope of ImplementationMicrosoft Dynamics AX for Retail is one of the few solutions providing an end-to-end retail solution which includes Financials, Inventory, Warehousing, Procurement, Store Management and Point of Sale. Because of the breadth of the functionality as well as an architecture that allows for integration with other solutions, customers have a series of implementation options as shown below.

  • Everything or Big Bang: If there are multiple systems that need to be replaced that are either not integrated today or loosely integrated this can be a good choice. The main downside to this is the amount of energy and horsepower required by the retailer and the implementation partner to pull this off successfully. This option is not for the faint of heart and requires a well thought out plan, sufficient resources and top management commitment.
  • Phase Implementation via packages: A list of packages are
    • Store Operations, Assisted Selling, Point of Sale
    • eCommerce, mobile-Commerce or mCommerce, Social Commerce
    • Customer Care and Marketing
    • Order Management, Inventory, Warehousing and Distribution
    • Financial Management, Management Reporting

If taking a phased approach, my preference is to do the financial implementation first as you can set out our base fundamentals right. That would include the chart of accounts, financial dimensions, reporting and ensuring our have a solid foundation for the rest of the implementation. The second preference would be to do the Front-end implementations first which is either the Store Operations and POS or the eCommerce and mobility. If you have to pick order management, warehousing, procurement I would typically recommend bundling in financials in that implementation as well. The up side of a phased implementation is that the scope is manageable and can ensure the organization is focused on getting it right without burdening the whole organization with the implementation. Th down side of a phased implementation is the need for intermediate interfaces as well as a longer duration which typically results in higher costs over a Big Bang approach.

implementation packages

The last piece of best practice advice around the scope is the most obvious one – to keep it manageable. If the internal implementation team is not scaled up to doing the whole implementation then it makes most sense to implement it in a phased manner. An example phasing is shown below

phasing of implementation

Rollout: A lot of retailers don’t think about rollout. But if you are doing a POS and Store operations implementation then you want to decide whether you rollout to all stores together or do a certain number of stores as pilot and then do staged rollouts after that. The upside of doing it all together is that you get it done with in one shot but it can be much harder to manage the change for all the in-store personnel at one go. The advantage of a staged rollout is manageability but you will need to interface to the older store system while rolling out even if you just to the GL to bring in the transactions for the stores that are not covered in the first rollout. Below is a list of parameters to think about while deciding one way or the other with the metrics usually found. I say usually because even though I would typically say anything more than 50 stores it is better to stage a rollout, in one instance we implemented to 400 stores in one shot since the cost of integrating with the system we were replacing was too high due to its legacy architecture.

 

Staged Rollout

All Stores in one Rollout

Number of Stores

50 stores or higher

Less than 50 stores

Number of users

More than 100 users

Less than 100 users

Internal change management capability

Low to Medium

High

Cost of Integrating with store system being replaced

Low to Medium

High

Change Management: I referenced change management in the rollout section and my experience is that retailers often significantly underestimate the amount of change management required to make a new implementation successful. Often the focus of Change management is the training for the in-store personnel. However a new retail business system like Microsoft Dynamics AX can transform an organization in a very positive fashion. However, without good change management you could end up with a very poor implementation as users may try to get the new system to be like the old system as opposed to adopting best practice business processes that come with Microsoft Dynamics AX.  Similarly poor change management can lead to lack of preparedness for data migration, under-trained staff and high resistance to a new system irrespective of the quality of the system. While everyone typically things of adding in a project manager, I would also recommend adding in a Change Manager in the organization that helps with all of the following

  • Expectation Management
  • Training
  • Project Communication
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Openness to a new system

A new implementation while challenging can be a lot of fun and an opportunity to not just modernize your business systems but also significantly revamp you processes to allow the organization to operate in a much more optimal fashion than before. I wish you the best on your implementation journey. For more information on implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, please email us at retail@ignify.com.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Faster Checkouts, Faster Revenues: 5 Ways Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS Improves Checkout Speed

June 2nd, 2014 No comments

In-store sales representatives are the first, and often only, point of contact between your business and your highly-valued shoppers. They must be well-trained and dedicated to your brand, but also require the most up-to-date technology to ensure an efficient buying process.

The last thing we want to do as shoppers is spend time waiting in a long line because the cashier is struggling with a faulty or outdated system.

We’ve all been there: the customer at the front of the line has a shopping cart full of items, tries to claim each one has a discounted price, and then stacks several coupons toward the order. Additionally, the customer in front of you has a baby that won’t stop crying and the one to the rear keeps nudging you with a shopping cart.

Just as you’re about to abandon your items and leave, the register next door opens. You breathe a sigh of relief and rush over to pay for your items and leave.

Powerful, scalable POS systems, like Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, can help combat long lines at checkout

Powerful, scalable POS systems, like Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, can help combat long lines at checkout. 

Experiences like this are far too common in today’s retail stores. Your customers deserve more than this; they are spending their hard-earned cash at your business. Keep them coming to you instead of your competitors with a reliable, efficient Point of Sale system.

Why Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS

From clocking in to completing a variety of customer transactions, the Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS system is simple enough for each employee to quickly respond to customer needs and powerful enough to connect to headquarters processes alongside enterprise resource planning and financials.

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS makes each step of the day easy for customer service representatives, in-store management, and corporate-level employees. The single, end-to-end solution can accelerate business success and empower employees to improve customer satisfaction. Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail is equipped to handle a variety of transactions, from the most basic sale to mix and match deals.

Please see the five ways below that Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS allows salespeople to move the checkout lines quickly and efficiently – and keep the cash flowing in. 

  1. Apply Discounts with Ease

    With this system, sales reps can easily apply discounts to orders without having to fumble for codes or overrides. For example, the system can be configured to recognize sales of different types, like bundled discounts.

    If the system is set to discount items after the customer purchases three or more of the same item, the system will automatically deduct the savings without any additional keystrokes from the sales associate. Please see the screenshots below for an example of how this particular discount would look on the POS. 

    Apply Discounts with Ease

    When a customer purchases two of the same T-shirts, the POS system charges each at the full retail price of $5.99.

    Apply Discounts with Ease

    As soon as the third shirt is scanned, the cost of each shirt is lowered to $4.79, showing that a 20 percent discount has been applied.

    Alternatively, the system can also be configured to give mix and match discounts, like buy two pairs of jeans and get a T-shirt for free.

  2. Prevent Checkout Line Hold-ups by Suspending and Recalling Transactions

    In the case that a customer wants to purchase additional items, or mistakenly grabbed the wrong size, there is no need to hold up the line while the issue is being resolved. The POS system can easily suspend and recall transactions as needed to keep the line moving steadily.

    Prevent Checkout Line Hold-ups by Suspending and Recalling Transactions

    This recall transaction screen shows the cashier which transactions are on hold. A description of the items in each transaction appears in the box to the right when the cashier clicks on each check on hold.

  3. Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS provides additional advanced sales capabilities to ensure each cashier has a wealth of information at their fingertips.

    Cashiers can look up inventory in real time throughout the chain, add new customers to the customer database, and create customer orders with a few clicks on the screen.

    With the ability to look up inventory and customer information quickly and in different ways, cashiers are able to find answers in minimal time.  

    Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    Items can be looked up by simply typing in a keyword, like “jean.”

    Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    Once an item is selected, the system will show which stores in the area carry the product and how much is currently in stock.

    Cashiers also have the ability to look up a customer by a number of criteria such as name, email address, or phone number. This is helpful in processing returns without a receipt or to verify important loyalty information per individual customers.

    Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    This search screen narrowed down store information to show customers who have the numbers “1234” in their listed phone number.

  4. Provide Customers Convenience with Different Item Pickup Options

    The fact that an item isn’t available in-store doesn’t mean a transaction can’t still take place – cashiers are able to create custom orders in the case that an item is not available in store. Options such as in-store pickup, pick up at another location, shipping directly to the customer, or shipping to another residence can all be easily configured within the system.

    You can also configure the POS system to apply fees to specific custom orders. For example, if a customer wants an item that is available at a different store, a 10 percent payment fee (or whichever fee amount you wish) can be applied.

    Provide Customers Convenience with Different Item Pickup Options

    The POS system can be configured to charge a 10 percent fee toward the price of the item for customers who wish to order an item that is not available in store.

  5. Customizable Point of Sale Interface – Helping Cashiers Help Themselves Be Most Efficient

    The POS system is highly configurable and can be designed to have as many or few buttons on the home screen as desired for specific functionality. Retail stores can allow sales representatives to configure their own point of sale interfaces according to their preferences. For example, if an associate has certain high-use buttons, those can be preset on the screen. Additionally, the screen can be configured for left or right hand use.

    Customizable Point of Sale Interface

    This screen has key buttons on the left and a number pad on the right for item search or quantity input. There are also quick-access buttons on the bottom for dealing with different types of tender or gift cards.

    Customizable Point of Sale Interface

    This screen features less buttons, and also has an interface more intuitive to left-handed users, since the key pad and quick-access buttons are located on the left of the screen.

The examples listed above provide a snapshot into the daily functions a cashier would use in a POS system. For more information, please email dynamics@ignify.com.

Stay tuned to the Retail Blog for more articles about store manager functionality, retail headquarters functionality, and loyalty management in Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce, ERP, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

My Experience at Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp

June 11th, 2013 No comments

As a Web App / GUI designer, it’s important to keep learning new design tips and techniques, so on June 7th, I attended the all-day Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp in Pune, India.

Not only did I learn valuable design information, but I was thrilled to be declared a Winner for the camp’s design contest!

Please read on to find out more about the Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp, the key Microsoft Windows 8 design concepts and practices I learned, and the exciting design contest that I participated in. 

What was the Microsoft Design Camp all about?

This non-technical, no-fluff workshop for visual designers and UX designers, by designers, was about developing world-class apps from experts such as Brandy Porter and Brian Harper from Big Nerd Ranch. They had also developed some bonus content around responsive web design. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with other designers, cook up my own designs, and showcase those designs for the contest.

The time was split between discussing key principles of Windows Store app design and applying what was learned in design exercises. There I was introduced to the new Windows 8 operating system, and the design and UX patterns that exist in Windows Store apps. The day started with an overview of Windows 8, the Modern UI, and the Microsoft Design Language. It led into a series of discussions followed by lab time, where we were asked to draw up wireframes for our application, at each stage implementing the theory we had heard. The camp was a mix of presentation, discussion, and hand-on design exercises.

What was the agenda?

In this design camp, they covered:

  • Principles of Microsoft Design
  • Navigation
  • Layout
  • UI Elements
  • Charms, Contracts, and Extensions
  • Snapping and Scaling
  • Windows Store
  • Bonus Content: Responsive Web Design
  • "Cook up a design" Contest (which I won!)

We had Windows 8 sketch pads, pencils and Sharpies to use. I had my Windows 8 laptop to drive through some of the theory.

What I learned?

I learned how to approach application design for Windows 8, the unique experiences that a Windows 8 user expects from an application, and how I should approach some of the unique features of Windows 8 and bring them to life within my app.

At the Windows 8 Design Camp, the learning was all about Microsoft design language and how to apply it to designing a Windows Store app; understanding the principles of great Windows Store app design; learning the UX guidelines and applying them in my own design.

About the "Cook up a design" contest

The goal of the Windows 8 Design Camps was to guide us through the design of our first Windows Store app, and so for the contest, I designed an app. In each session of the camp, I learned a different aspect of Windows Store app design via a combination of presentation and discussion. After each presentation, we were asked to go through the applied aspect of the theory learned by designing our own app in a design lab on the topic. All the labs were done with paper and pencil. When we were ready for feedback, the Design Camp’s instructors were available to discuss our design.

Me (in front, wearing a black shirt) discussing my design concept with contest judge Brandy Porter (right) while sketching

Me (in front, wearing a black shirt) discussing my design concept with contest judge Brandy Porter (right) while sketching

The criteria for the contest was that contestants had to consider Windows 8 guidelines and come up with a clean, catchy, and innovative app design with a creative app logo, in a 90-minute time limit. The panel of four judges took some time to ponder and determine the five finalists.

I was so excited to hear my name declared first out of the five winners in Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp as “Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store”, out of 19 designs and 40 designers from TCS, Cybage, Nvidia, Wipro, Fiserv, Congenzent, and the list goes on.

Showcased below are wireframes (sketches) and actual designs (sketches converted into real design) that I made during the competition. Three levels of mock content pages were created – hub, section, and detail pages.

This is the sketch and actual design of the hub page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the hub page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the section page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the section page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the detail page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the detail page that I created for my app

Please see below for more pictures of that memorable event:

Shaking hands with Mark (left) as he calls my name as winner of the 'Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store' contest

Shaking hands with Mark (left) as he calls my name as winner of the “Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store” contest

Me on the dais receiving prize from Microsoft experts and the panel of judges. My design is showcased on the  screen to the left. From left to right: Brian Harper, Mark, Sandeep Alur, me,  and Brandy Porter

Me on the dais receiving prize from Microsoft experts and the panel of judges. My design is showcased on the screen to the left. From left to right: Brian Harper, Mark, Sandeep Alur, me, and Brandy Porter

Me with Microsoft experts and contest judges – Brian Harper and Brandy Porter

Me with Microsoft experts and contest judges – Brian Harper and Brandy Porter

Winners’ designs will be showcased on the Microsoft website after minor changes suggested by judges.

The Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp provided an excellent opportunity to learn new Microsoft Windows 8 design concepts and put them into practice. I look forward to applying this knowledge to new design areas!

Kumar Shah is a Creative Expert at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce 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.

4 Ways to Increase Holiday Shopper Retention and Revenue with Multi-Channel Retail

December 16th, 2012 No comments

It’s that time of year again: the holiday season.  And retailers can be glad that consumers are feeling jollier about the current economy than in years past. According to Deloitte’s 2012 Annual Holiday Survey, 50% of those surveyed said that they expect the economy to improve in 2013, a significant increase from 33% in 2011. More survey respondents also feel their own financial situations have improved, with 28% of respondents saying their situation is better than the previous year, compared to 21% in 2011.

But just because shoppers are feeling more positive about finances this year, don’t think they’ll be spending their money willy-nilly. Lessons from the recession are still fresh in everyone’s minds, and people are better prepared for how they spend their money. According to Accenture’s Holiday Shopping Survey, 51% say they will be paying for their holiday shopping with cash put aside for that purpose, compared to 45 percent in 2011. Also, only 5% of survey respondents expect to be “extravagant” in their holiday shopping. 

So what’s the best approach for reaching these cautiously optimistic, budget-conscious shoppers? The answer: a multi-channel approach.

According to Deloitte’s 2012 Annual Holiday Survey, the average gift spend among consumers who plan to hit the Internet, their smartphones, and stores this holiday season is $600 – an amount that is 71% higher than those who plan to shop only in stores.

By offering consumers a retail platform that combines the Internet, mobile devices, and brick-and-mortar stores, merchants gain valuable footholds into important retail channels. And with these footholds, merchants encourage cross-channel jumping – increasing presence means increasing the potential customer pool.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, we’re giving you four tips on how to improve your different retail channels to lure in those existing and potential customers.

  1.  Enhance the Usability of Your Online Store

    The Internet remains one of the primary shopping destinations for holiday shoppers. According to a study by the National Retail Federation, 51.8% of U.S. consumers will shop online this holiday season – which is up from 46.7% last year. These results represent the first time with this annual survey that more than half of shoppers plan to buy gifts and other items via the web.

    It’s no secret why people prefer the web – online stores provide shoppers convenience and ease. Who wouldn’t prefer buying the top sellers of the season from the comfort of their own home instead of fighting the crazy holiday crowds at the mall? Online stores are a significant, lucrative driver of holiday retail sales for merchants. According to a forecast by Shop.Org, the National Retail Federation’s digital division, online holiday spending this year would increase by about 12% from 2011 to reach between $92 and $96 billion.

    To capture a slice of these online revenues, merchants need to make sure their web store can handle higher volumes of traffic. Make navigating around your store simple, smooth, and intuitive – clearly and prominently mark the different areas that customers typically want immediate access to (such as a search box, new product arrivals, promotions, shipment information, etc. – see the image below for an example). Holiday shoppers are in a time crunch – they don’t want to think about where they need to click to find out what your top selling item is; they just want to click it. 

    Enhance the Usability of Your Online Store

    By placing clear and distinctive labels on your site, customers will be able to easily navigate around. The less effort it takes for them to find what they’re looking for means the higher the chance they’ll return.

    Remember that nothing says “don’t come back” like a buggy, confusing, non-functional site. Be sure you’re constantly on the lookout for any broken links, errors, or other undesirable features.

  2. Optimize Your Store for Mobile Devices

    With mobile devices being one of the foremost consumer technology platforms, retailers need to have an online store that caters to the mobile-based shopper as well as the desktop computer-based shopper. 

    According to the National Retail Federation survey, 46.1% of respondents owned smartphones while 22.4% owned tablets. Of those respondents who own mobile devices, 52.9% of smartphone owners and 64.1% of tablet owners will use their devices to research products and buy.

    Optimize Your Store for Mobile Devices                         

    Making a sleek, user-friendly interface for mobile devices makes mobile shoppers keep coming back.

    When creating a mobile store, remember to keep it simple and clean – resist the temptation to clutter up your storefront. This shopping medium is different from a regular online store in that you have a far more limited amount of screen space, so you need to fill it with the right stuff. Mobile shoppers want instant access to information about products and prices, and they want the ability to purchase items as easily as purchasing from a desktop computer. Also, just like with your regular online store, continually check your mobile offering for any bugs or issues.

    Of critical importance: make sure your mobile store supports all the popular mobile devices, such as iPhone, Android phones, Windows Phone 7, iPad, HP Slate, and all Windows 7 Tablets. People are connected to the technology world through a bunch of different hand-held machines these days; you want them to be able to access your store no matter which of them they are using.

    For more information on what customers are looking for in a mobile store, and what you can do about it, read our article Mobile Commerce to Get Ahead of the Retail Game.    

  3. Enhance the In-Store Experience

    Although consumers are becoming increasingly more reliant on technology, do not think that brick-and-mortar store locations are simultaneously becoming obsolete. Physical retail locations present their own unique advantages to both the retailer and the customer, and customers will still be flocking to them this holiday season. For example, according to Deloitte, 51% of consumers plan to visit discount stores this holiday season, with 45% planning to shop on the Internet – making discount stores and the Internet the top two holiday shopping destinations.

    However, brick-and-mortar store retailers need to be aware of “showrooming” – a trend where shoppers see a product in a physical store, and then search online for the best price and purchase online. The best way to tackle this is by keeping in mind that consumers essentially want a simple, seamless, convenient shopping experience that gives them value for their dollar. Retailers can do this by price matching against online competitors, and by strengthening customer service and product availability. By showing that you’re actively involved in giving your customers the best experience – with helpful, attentive store associates and systems that deliver – shoppers will recognize it and return. 

  4. Offer Discounts, Giveaways, and Gift Cards

    Because it can’t be reiterated enough – people don’t want to part with their hard-earned cash these days. Even though there’s more optimism with the economy, and even though people are spending more, that doesn’t mean they want to pay full price. And consumers not wanting to pay full price is becoming a key part of their shopping strategy.

    According to Accenture, discounts and promotions on holiday gift items remain a driver for the vast majority of shoppers, cited by 82% as important. Also, 78% of respondents say that at least half of their holiday shopping purchases will be discounted items, and 50% will be looking for a discount between 20 – 40% off the original price.

    Offer Discounts, Giveaways, and Gift Cards

    With more customers seeking out bargains and discounts, make sure your deals are front-and-center on your stores – both brick-and-mortar and online.

    Another thing to keep in mind when issuing discounts is to make your discounts enhance and add value to the purchase. For example, follow up with the customers who abandoned their shopping carts during the purchase process, and offer them a discount if they come back and complete it. Unfortunately, many online retailers are not doing this. According to a 2011 study by email marketing firm Listrak, only 14.6% of the Top 1000 web retailers use email campaigns as a way to retarget shoppers that have added items to their carts and then left. Don’t be like your apathetic competitors – make the effort to re-capture this important customer segment, and reap the benefits.

    One more thing to keep in mind is the hottest must-have of the holiday season: gift cards. According to Deloitte, 45% of surveyed consumers say the gift they wish to receive is gift cards/gift certificates.  With gift cards topping most consumers’ wish lists, and therefore topping most consumers’ to-buy lists as well, make sure your customers can easily and painlessly purchase gift cards either online or in your store. 

Multi-Channel Retail = Larger Consumer Outreach

As consumers become ever more technologically savvy, they are increasingly taking charge of the shopping experience. As they identify and utilize different sources of information and retail channels to achieve their shopping goals, merchants need to keep their finger on the pulse of customer needs and expectations. By finding the right systems for keeping you on top of shifting retail trends, your company will continue to grow and evolve with the customer. 

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

If you have any questions, or if you would like more information on which retail systems can benefit your company, 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.

Retail Information Systems Identified as Crucial Investments by Retailers

October 30th, 2012 No comments

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.