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Investing in online retail improves the overall sales experience


As retailers seek to vary their offerings to appeal to a more omnichannel customer base, one major way they’re doing so is by optimizing their online sales capability. These days, shoppers expect to interact with brands across a variety of platforms and devices, and relying on brick-and-mortar foot traffic alone to drive a competitive advantage has become increasingly challenging. To that end, companies that make it easy and convenient for customers to access their online inventory and perform transactions are standouts in today’s marketplace.

The value of online sales in an omnichannel environment

Many retailers have a brand presence that spans in-store, catalog, online and even telephone interactions, where associates work with shoppers in multiple scenarios to place orders, take requests and troubleshoot issues. In these cases, optimizing online sales helps streamline and connect all other disparate entities, creating a seamless solution that minimizes customer headaches and helps associates keep track of all connection points. To perform successfully at this level, retailers are leveraging enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that keeps visibility high across the enterprise, helping to manage every cross-channel interaction.

For example, RSM US LLP recently completed a custom Microsoft Dynamics® 365 (formerly Dynamics AX) ERP implementation for a lighting, hardware and home goods retailer whose primary focus was to curate and create vintage-inspired items for customers. While the company also took orders via phone and catalog, one of their features was an online ordering tool that allowed shoppers to customize their own made-to-order light fixtures. We created an interface that fit seamlessly with the company’s existing Magento e-commerce platform, periodically synching customer, sales order and product information between Dynamics 365 and their website, so data, including product configurator options and pricing, are always up-to-date. Now, customers can view all customization options and receive a real-time price quote, enabling a more dynamic and interactive customer experience across the board.

Similarly, RSM also conducted a custom Dynamics 365 integration for a leading sports retailer with a truly omnichannel brand presence. With more than 120 stores across 22 states, as well as merchandizing, warehouse, customer service and financials operations, our client also had an ecommerce presence and sought to standardize its point of sale (POS) system and ERP solution on a single platform. Our solution enabled omnichannel selling, improved in-store and online product search capabilities, and provided greater inventory visibility. It even allowed online functionality to expand into in-store operations, so customers can browse the retailer’s virtual catalog while they shop the aisles.

Automation and the online retail environment: Enterprise-wide simplicity

Another advantage of improving online retail through ERP is that the software’s automation capability makes it easier than ever to create, classify, modify, update and produce almost unlimited products. Take for example, a recent RSM project for a leading licensed sports merchandise retailer. In this case, the company not only manages its own virtual, branded retail store, but also the e-commerce sites of major industry players, including professional sports teams, media brands, and collegiate and professional properties.

As a result, its product assortment is vast. Our custom Dynamics 365 solution, along with custom order planning tools, including a product data model, graphical user interface (GUI) and associated wizard, enabled the company to quickly create product stock keeping units (SKU) that enable mass updates, such as markdowns, to be performed quickly. It also enabled the retailer to more effectively manage clothing orders for various teams by improving visibility into product assortment, categorization and volume levels.

Online improvements lead to large-scale benefits

From small-scale pop-up shops to industry-leading powerhouses, retailers of various scopes and sizes can benefit from improving their online sales function. Not only does ERP help companies streamline their omnichannel brand presence, it provides the visibility and automation capability required to improve product management across both virtual and physical spheres—turning clicks into cash.

Investing in online retail improves the overall sales experience

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