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For the discerning consumer, there are few things as off-putting as a retailer who doesn’t get them.

Personalized advertising of items that are of little-to-no interest to the customer, or the failure to cater to the users’ device of choice is capable of driving customers away from the (virtual or physical) checkout, vowing never to return. Yet, in order to ensure real personalization (and this not only means the content customers receive but on the device they prefer), retailers must be agile enough to act upon the needs of a huge number of consumers and their differing preferences.

Proliferation of Sophisticated Mobile Devices

One example is the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated mobile devices, and how Mobile Commerce (mCommerce) is seeing significant growth, in particular with the younger generation. Despite its growing prevalence, many retailers are still failing to capitalize on mCommerce; not optimizing their mobile sites and failing to ensure that they have back-office functionality capable of providing a seamless customer experience.

In a market that is so susceptible to change, simplicity is key to ensuring that retailers are able to accommodate their customers’ needs. Increasingly complex technologies and demands, from ordering items, using the laptops, tablets, or smartphones to demanding refunds over social media while on the move, are complicating an industry that thrives on the ability to provide experiences that are quick and painless.

From the retailer’s perspective, however, simplifying is easier said than done when its historical technology investments have been aimed at developing multiple software solutions to manage each aspect of its business. Unfortunately, this is the model followed by many traditional retailers as a result of their heritage and use of outdated technology.

Indeed, for a retailer to truly capitalize on, rather than suffer from, the growing emphasis on personalization, they must look to modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. By using a single, integrated solution for tasks such as supply chain execution, financials, HR, and CRM—and complementing this with best-of-breed (BoB) solutions where it makes sense—retailers can focus on actually serving customers.

So what does the ideal ERP solution look like?

In a nutshell, the solution should enable retailers to evolve without upsetting the apple cart. In other words, it is an evolution rather than a revolution that is required from retailers. By investing in a comprehensive system, retailers can address and upgrade different aspects of their business without disrupting the entire organization.

Retail is an industry in flux and one in which businesses cannot afford to sit still and let themselves be cast adrift by its changing tides. The right ERP system should provide an agile, flexible tool that knits together complex business processes, freeing retailers to address customer needs, no matter how unique they may be.

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