Customers want what they want, when they want it, and at the price they are willing to pay. This statement doesn’t just apply to all of us who recently completed our holiday shopping, it applies to e-commerce and B2B transactions. The performance bar has been set not by your competitors but by Amazon, The Gap, Pottery Barn, Walmart and all the other ‘usual web suspects’.
Having a great looking, easy to navigate website or mobile app for retail or commercial customers is the icing. Executing flawlessly is the cake. One without the other won’t drive long-term, sustainable, profitable growth. What are the basic ingredients of this cake? An ERP system and a Culture of Continuous Improvement.
CEOs and C-suite leaders know that making strategic, winning investments is one of their most crucial, non-transferable roles. Traditionally, this has meant an understanding of where to invest in more capital, more locations, more products, and more people. Today, you need faster, more nimble, more integrated, more transparent information to make decisions on B2B, e-commerce, partnership-intensive, customer-centric investments. Those begin with a successful ERP or business transformation initiative which addresses and resolves those challenges and threats most important to your long-term success.
Why invest now? What’s changed? ERP systems for small and mid-size companies provide a lot more functionality and scalability than 5 to 10 years ago. They are no longer “slimmed down” versions of their big brothers. They have more embedded core functionality, but they are not “all things to all people” and the differences can be small but crucial, so a diligent ERP sourcing process is always the best approach to select the right one for your company. The many good ones deliver fully integrated, transparent, and actionable information that the entire company will use to quickly and efficiently respond to customer and competitor demands. Companies often don’t know the true cost of the big backlog of I.T. requests that are still waiting to get through the queue and out to the user community, but they do see the productivity improvement of having fewer people and manual spreadsheets that don’t talk to each other replaced by integrated, automated information flows.
Daily sales and profit information by brand, by product, and by location allows leadership the opportunity to reallocate key efforts quickly; nightly supplier communications on inventory levels by location allow for more effective purchasing and transportation execution; improved daily cash and credit card management with your banking partners increases cash flow; and, flexible manufacturing investments allow quick responses to the inevitable swings between production plans and actual sales.
Cash may still be king, but information makes the cash flow faster and higher.