Why Retail Marketers Love ERP Systems (And You Should Too!)

pen-idea-bulb-paperERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is often considered an IT project, a piece of technology that should be selected and advocated for purely by the members of the organization whose jobs revolve around technology.


What this traditional approach to ERP neglects is that one of the hallmarks of an end-to-end system is how it unifies data, processes and functions across all departments in an organization. Every stakeholder should have an opportunity to discuss what they need and expect out of a new software system that will impact them.


The unification of data unlocks the door to understanding your customer’s behavior, their interests, and purchasing patterns. This valuable information provides marketers with the statistics they need to understand the customer’s buying journey and thus, create personalized in-store and offline marketing campaigns. If you don’t have an ERP solution in place, marketers have to resort to using outdated and broken data from separate information silos. As a result, marketing professionals would fail to see the overall picture. You don’t want marketers assuming they know your customers – you want data to back up every digital touch point. This blog post highlights how an ERP solution could be the fairy godmother to revamping your existing marketing campaigns and ensuring all future material targets Prince Charming.


So how does ERP impact retail marketers?


ERP systems encompass a number of different smaller software modules, including things like the point of sale (POS), the customer relationship management (CRM), and the business intelligence (BI). If the people in a retail business who are responsible for marketing have no involvement in the software system selection or set-up, they can often feel frustrated by the technology, fighting to make it accommodate their needs. On the other hand, when marketers are part of the reason the company starts investigating the possibility of a comprehensive, end-to-end software system to run the business, they can help to drive vendor selection using concrete business goals, anticipating the benefit and ROI of the expensive implementation.



What is the benefit of ERP to marketing initiatives?


The three essential features of a robust ERP system that a marketing professional will get the most use out of will be:


  • Promotional Offer Management
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Sales Reporting and Analytics


The use of these three complementary software suites in combination with one another gives marketing the power to run intelligently targeted marketing campaigns, utilize unique and memorable loyalty building features in-store, and confidently and clearly track the effectiveness of these efforts.



Using ERP to Target Marketing Campaigns

Marketers are increasingly moving to a microsegmentation model of sending out communications and offers. Best practice dictates that rather than blast your entire list with one identical flyer, it makes more sense to segment your customer base into groups that will be interested in specific types of offers. Segmentation was historically done by broad groupings like age, gender, or geographic location.


Today’s technology enables much more sophisticated targeting than that; top retailers are now creating segments based on people with similar tastes, needs, or purchase intent. This can be done using your CRM and your BI tool, crunching the data on their purchase history to get a true understanding of what they like to buy from you. Combining the old methodology with the new, marketers can send promotional offers that get to the heart of what each of their customers is most interested in.



Features of the Point of Sale Marketers Can Leverage


Marketing doesn’t stop when the customer walks through the doors of one of your locations. The point of sale itself can often be an important tool for marketers to leverage for promotions and loyalty building. A good point of sale will let the cashier know when the items currently being purchased have companion items or related items currently on sale that would make for a good cross-sell opportunity.


Another way to get customers feeling good and coming back is by printing discount coupons directly onto your customer’s receipt – this can be as a general promotion, or triggered by a customer’s spending more than a certain overall lifetime value, or in response to a high value purchase during that particular transaction. Clever marketers can run a variety of thoughtful, responsive campaigns utilizing these kinds of ERP functionalities.



Tracking and Metrics for Marketing Activities Found in ERP Software


If you’re running marketing campaigns without doing any tracking on the effectiveness of those campaigns, you’re essentially flying blind and relying on guesswork. Taking that blindfold off and gaining complete transparency into the effectiveness of each of your campaigns is one of the most valuable capabilities that technology can offer the marketing professional today.


ERP software that has a promotional campaign management module will usually offer basic reporting functionality to tell you things like how many coupons were redeemed of all the ones given out or whether you saw a boost in sales for items that were connected to a promotion. When you get to a more advanced level, some ERP packages offer a Business Intelligence module that takes things a step further and can do more complex investigation and visualization of all the transactional data being produced in your stores, and how it all connects to promotions, loyalty members, gift cards, and customer demographic data.


Visibility and clarity on which of your marketing campaigns are working and which need to be tweaked is absolutely essential for mid-sized retailers. Investing in ERP gives the marketing department the data they need to better plan their marketing strategy and boost sales, and that alone is a compelling argument for marketing executives to push their company’s leadership team to upgrade the software they’re using.