Inventory management software: How retailers can adapt in uncertain times

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Retail ERP software geared for growth

If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught us it’s that businesses must adapt to change during uncertain times.

Evolve or Die: wise words written by billionaire businessman Ray Dalio in his book ‘Principles’. This couldn’t be more true for retailers and wholesalers in 2020.

With millions of people stuck at home in lockdown, customers are turning to online shopping to buy what they need.

Is your business, with its current inventory management software, coping with this sudden change?

Survival strategies for retailers and wholesalers

One critical factor that will set successful retailers apart from their less fortunate counterparts is the strength of their inventory management software solution.

Those with agile inventory management solutions and an effective omni-channel strategy will be able to more easily adapt during uncertain times, and act fast to meet the changing market needs. In comparison, those with inflexible inventory management systems, such as ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions with limited capabilities, will struggle to implement strategies crucial for their survival.

Benefits of integrated inventory management software for rapid change

Here are some crucial features offered by the best inventory management software systems, which provide innovation and business continuity during uncertain times:

Quickly leverage other ‘in-demand’ sales channels such as ecommerce

COVID-19 has forced retailers to shut doors, with a staggering plunge in retail sales in Australia.

Graph showing April’s plunge in Australian retail turnover was the worst on record.

This has propelled retailers to rely on other sales channels to maximise sales. Retailers with an integrated inventory management solution are in the best position in these situations, because they can easily leverage or add other sales channels other than brick and mortar stores. Provided they’ve chosen the right technology where these additional capabilities are offered as part of the solution.

Take Colonial Brewing Company for example – a leading craft beer brewery based in Port Melbourne and Margaret River. Before the pandemic they had been selling mostly to wholesalers in the hospitality industry. They were using Qdos ERP inventory management software to track their beer production, sales orders, warehouse distribution and financial processes.

When their wholesale clients inevitably started to close their doors, and CBC noticed a decline in sales orders, they looked at other ways to reach customers. Whilst they already had an ecommerce platform (WooCommerce integrated with Qdos ERP), it had not previously been one of the main sales channels. CBC took rapid action to set up additional products on their ecommerce online store and sales soared.

Colonial Brewing Company also made the decision to leverage Qdos Retail POS to sell beer directly from the Port Melbourne brewery. Since POS is part of the Qdos suite of integrated products, it was easily set up for CBC within 2 days.

  It was such a relief to make that phone call to the Qdos team and find out that we could start using POS, and that it could be set up so quickly. We really didn’t have the luxury of time.  

– Jarrod Stivala, National Brewery Operations Manager, Colonial Brewing Company  

Optimise supply chain processes to cater for ‘skyrocketing’ demand

Australia’s leading inventory management software vendors will be able to say “yes we can do that!” when you have new business requirements. When you’re under pressure to remain innovative and you need to act fast, a flexible retail ERP software solution is a must.

Another example is a Qdos client (#1 retailer and wholesaler in their industry) who focuses on ‘event based selling’. 80% of sales was to wholesalers, whereas now due to the pandemic it’s switched to 80% retail sales on their Magento ecommerce platform. Their traditional model has shifted, and they’ve now looked at ways to optimise ecommerce sales and supply chain processes.

Their challenge wasn’t capturing sales orders, it was fulfilling these customer orders. Essentially, their retail order volumes skyrocketed, so the business had to adapt to fulfil the greater volumes. The challenge was to introduce more ‘bulk’ processes where things could be performed ‘en masse’ rather than on an individual basis.

The solution was to engage third party logistics (3PL) providers to handle the surge in demand. To make this possible, they needed to get bulk information in and out of Qdos ERP quickly:

  • Bulk reassignment of the sales order fulfilment partner
  • Bulk update of sales orders with consignment and fulfilment information from a file upload
  • Bulk update of product dimension data
  • Various report updates for providing pertinent information around these new processes

This is a massive, crucial benefit of tailored ERP software solutions compared to ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions.

Retailers are often hesitant to invest in these advanced ERP solutions, opting instead for an off-the-shelf solution to save money. However, when shopping behaviour changes suddenly, the difference between the two systems is really obvious. An off-the-shelf solution, whilst a cheaper option, simply can’t meet the sudden needs of a retailer or wholesaler to adapt in a crisis.

SaaS ERP solutions provide remote access to ‘live’ data

Perhaps the most critical requirement of all for retailers, as demonstrated by the pandemic, is to be able to work remotely to avoid business disruption. Who could have predicted we’d ALL be working from home due to a pandemic?

Retailers who have adopted software as a service (SaaS) ERP solutions are in pole position as they can log into their ERP application and run their business through the Internet – from anywhere, including from home.

This is certainly the case for Australia’s #1 online beauty retailer, Adore Beauty. Business owners, customer service representatives, warehouse and IT staff have security-assured access to their integrated Qdos ERP solution to continue operating ‘business as usual’ from home, with access to ‘live’ data to service customers with their needs.

The impacts of a limiting inventory management ERP solution could be detrimental to retailers.

Retailers forced to close their doors

We have seen tremendous innovation and experimentation from retailers globally during the pandemic. But on the other hand, we see brick-and-mortar retailers have been forced to shut their doors during lockdowns – and sadly, some retail stores will never reopen.

This is due to a combination of factors, including:

  • weak performance already existing prior to the pandemic
  • some traditional retailers were unable to adapt to online shopping fast enough

No one knows how long this disruption to retail will last. But based on the increase in online sales, it is clear that the businesses most likely to survive are incorporating an ecommerce platform into their sales strategy, or enhancing their current strategy.

Some retailers will reconsider whether there is a need to reopen stores since it is highly likely that shoppers forced online may choose to continue shopping online.

And while Australia has lagged other developed countries for e-commerce adoption for many years, it’s definitely the right time for Australian retailers to embrace ecommerce, to capture as much market share as possible.

What’s more, disruptions to the global supply chain and delays in international postage means “buying local” is more appealing than ever.

What if you’re frozen, and don’t know how to react?

You don’t need to have all the answers about how to survive this change. Simply present your current challenges to your inventory management software provider, and they’ll tell you what’s possible.

You need a provider that will answer your support calls ASAP and help you adapt quickly.

Will your business evolve or die during uncertain times?

How easily can your retail business adapt?

Can your inventory management software vendor provide you with options to solve your current business problems, no matter how big or small these challenges are?

We’ve helped hundreds of businesses solve a huge variety of retail and wholesale problems. So if your current inventory management provider says “that’s not possible”, give Qdos a call.

Options should consist of ‘configuration’ related solutions (where your requirements can be met through configuration, at no extra cost to you) right through to building new features into the solution based on your requirements (which may involve additional investment).

Look for a retail ERP solution that can integrate to popular and effective ecommerce platforms such as Magento and Shopify.

Make your retail business foolproof by investing in a SaaS inventory management system that can help your business thrive during times of uncertainty – you’ll be relieved you invested in the right solution, instead of living in regret. 

Get in touch on (03) 86444080 to find out how Qdos can help you remain innovative during uncertain times.