Choosing a Retail Management System

I’ve been talking to businesses for years about their ability to react to changes in the marketplace. History will prove that every world class disrupter- for good or bad, affects the retail industry. In the current COVID-19 climate, even the luxury brands have been hit hard.

Having a grounded approach to organic shifts in the marketplace starts with your RMS system.

If you struggle from a lack of IT infrastructure or outdated legacy systems, you’re not alone. If you choose to implement an RMS system or upgrade your current system, the good news is that there are affordable solutions to satisfy almost anyone’s tastes.


Funding new software packages can be very expensive. Before you go down that road one of your first tasks is to have a clear objective of where you will find your biggest return on investment. Sometimes the ROI is the savings of a combination of monthly reoccurring expenses that may be eliminated. Perhaps your shipping expenses will finally be aligned with your budgeted expense. Perhaps you will not need as much manpower in certain areas. You may find flexibility in workflows which allows you to recoup time and expense on resources that you have been outsourcing. Coincidentally- the search for potential ROI opportunities will look a lot like your list of pain points.

Choices

Platform

Your next step will be to determine which type of platform is right for you. Are you open source or proprietary? Are you a cloud advocate or an on-premise fan?

On-premises servers, licenses, maintenance and hardware and… well, you probably already know the expenses.

Cloud offerings have their dark sides too. While the total cost of ownership and quick deployment looks appealing at first, you may be giving up some control when you are part of a cloud partnership. Your vendor will be storing all of your data. That poses risks if there is a breach no matter how reputable they are. Verify what happens to your data if you are late paying for your subscription. Also, make sure you can port your data to another system if the need arises and… what are the costs associated with that?


Hardware

There is also hardware to consider. Sure, you have no server hardware obligations in the cloud but what are your choices for POS hardware? Do you have a choice or is your hardware mandated by the software provider?  And it isn’t just POS hardware. You’ll need mobile. Are you Android or IOS? You’ll also need to know if your credit card processer will work on all your devices.


Security

Security concerns abound regardless of platform and your vendors should be well prepared to speak to all concerns from PCI compliance and penetration testing to disaster recovery.


Customizations

You should also be able to collect relevant data and make changes to what is relevant without having to pay vendors to create new reports or adding fields to tables. Users should be able to modify custom dashboards on the fly and create targeted campaigns to attract and retain customers.

You should have the ability to connect to third party APIs with ease and utilize industry select datasets in your analytics tools.


Artificial Intelligence

SoLoMo, or Social + Local + Mobile is the AI marketing strategy which is meant to keep your customers engaged. To serve customers anywhere, on any device and when they want to shop is a tall order.

There is no SoLoMo without AI. When you are ready to shop for a new RMS solution, make sure your digital needs will scale with your business by harnessing the next generation of industry standard tools.

You won’t know what your customer is doing unless you know what you are doing. It’s that simple.


As you can tell, there is no defined path for everyone. This is going to be a highly personal decision. You will have to choose the best path for your business.

I’m still a systems engineer at heart. For me, the thought that I can’t directly access my SQL data, tweak my performance or dictate when updates are promoted to live is an issue for the control freak in me. I tend to lean to Microsoft Azure Hybrid solutions because that is my comfort zone.

Considering my long and successful relationship with Microsoft Dynamics / Business Central, it shouldn’t come as surprise that I lean towards the LS Retail suite of software, aka LS Central and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail- now known as Dynamics 365 Commerce.

I hope we can have a more in-depth discussion of some of the points I’ve brought up today.

Till then,

Take care!

Jacki

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