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The Future of Retail

Retail companies are a customer-focused business. They need to constantly think of ways to not only satisfy but also enhance the customer experience. Covid-19 has impacted the retail industry immensely and it has resulted in permanent changes. The retail industry is rushing to adapt and keep pace with these changes and implement solutions quickly.

According to experts, “Automation will reshape retail business models and the broader value chain, creating organizations with fewer layers and a better trained and trusted workforce, empowered by real-time data and analytics. The winners in this sector will be those who understand these implications and act quickly to address them.”[1]  

Let us look at some of the major changes the retail industry has had to adapt to in this post-pandemic scenario.

Customers have moved online

Social distancing, lockdowns, and limited physical contact have forced customers to move online. Covid-19 has substantially contributed to the online shopping trend that had already begun to gain momentum pre-Covid. With large numbers of customers now using the internet, convenience has been the guiding mantra to win online customers as retail moves online.

Retailers have to ensure that they are present where the customer is. They have to work towards providing a great buying experience for their customers. They have to make it convenient for customers to buy from them at each touch point. 

Retailers should aim to provide an amazing customer experience. Once we open-up post-pandemic, these new changes will remain prominent. They will act as new benchmarks for customer expectations and consumer experiences.  Those retailers who are able to ace this challenge and provide a good, convenient, and hassle-free buying experience to their customers, will be the go-to retailer for them.

Omni-channel presence is the future

As mentioned earlier, online shopping has become mainstream. Most retailers who initially were present only in brick-and-mortar stores have moved online either through strategic alliances or by investing in their own digital pursuits, understanding that they have to approach their customers through different channels.

As a retailer, focus has to be on providing a delightful customer experience on all these different channels. Retailers have to analyze multiple omnichannel touch points and ensure that there are no bottlenecks or obstacles that will prevent their customers from coming back to them.

Investing in an ERP that has got a tight integration and communication between multiple channels of commerce such as e-commerce websites, e-commerce mobile applications, a dynamic POS System, a chat application/chat bot, customer care, social media & many more channels can result in better sales & bottom lines.[2]

The important part is to replicate the experience a customer would have had, in the offline world. This is possible by having effective systems in place that can handle returns, refunds, changes in orders placed and everything else that was possible when shopping was done from a physical store. Omnichannel retailing, allows all of this.  In addition, customers can gain a unified experience across online and offline platforms.

Physical stores are now moving towards showcasing displays for various products rather than being commerce centers. There will be some products that will require personal consultation or guidance. A customer is now able to check the product online, try it at the local store, place the order online and get the product delivered at home by the local store. These facilities will continue even post-pandemic.

E-Commerce is the need of the hour

E-Commerce was progressing at a good pace before the pandemic too. The pandemic has fast-tracked the transition of consumers, as well as companies, online.
Companies not having any digital presence have to go online or run the risk of perishing. They have to invest in last-mile delivery options. They have to ensure that they adopt systems like contactless payments, contactless delivery, and so on.
More importantly, more people started buying online because of restrictions in movement and as a business; companies have to be present where their customer is. Customers will buy online, and if you are not there in front of them, they will buy from your competitor. Hence, e-Commerce as a channel is now as critical for a retailer to stay in business just as oxygen is for a human being to survive.

Safer in-store experiences are a must

Retailers will have to invest in and provide a safer shopping experience for those shoppers who visit their stores. They will have to invest in ensuring better hygiene standards in-store. People are now more conscious (in some cases even obsessed) about health and hygiene due to the pandemic.
Retailers will have to ensure that they gain the trust of in-store shoppers by making sure that they provide them with a safe and hygienic environment. This is not just keeping a store clean; this is communicating properly with customers that the brand cares about their health and safety at all times.

Diversifying the supply chain is the key to mitigating risks
When Covid-19 hit the world, many retailers and their supply chain were under tremendous strain. Businesses that were overly dependent on one or two suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, etc., were severely crippled.
As retailers did not get their product on time, they faced huge losses, and sadly some of them couldn’t sustain the financial burden and had no option but to shut down.
Many businesses now understand that over dependence on a single supplier resource can be detrimental to business growth. Businesses should consider diversifying to ensure that similar unforeseen circumstances do not impact their business severely. Diversifying will also help them mitigate risks and reduce loss of business due to stock outs, with resulting impact to the bottom line.

Digital transformation is a necessity and not an option

Retailers have to invest in technology. They have to accept that digital transformation is a necessary for their business to survive in this post-pandemic market.

Services like contactless payments, contactless delivery, payment gateways, book online pick-up at store options, online product brochures, online consultations, online advertisements, etc., are multiple avenues where retailers will have to make investments. Whether you are a small mom and pop store or a big-box retailer, you will have to invest in digital transformation to stay relevant and competitive. 

To remain competitive in this global market with sustainable margins, retail business owners need to adopt new tools.  Technology to ensure that the entire business is on a single platform with scalability is the best choice for the business owner.

With retail ERP, demand forecasting is possible. It helps companies track past trends and see forecasting reports that help identify future demands easily. It also gives companies accurate figures, so data is highly reliable and can be used effectively to make key decisions. [3]

The success of a retail company, as mentioned earlier, is directly proportionate to customer satisfaction. Retailers must therefore constantly think of ways to keep customers happy and coming back for more. 

ERP for Retail can help

  • Manage the supply chain merchandise with multiple levels of product categories.
  • Manage Trade and Non-Trade Payables.
  • Provide comprehensive analytics on inventory, cash flow and margins.
  • Have a robust presence across all the channels of retail.
  • Keep track on consumers, their preferences, their buying patterns, their influencers through data analytics.
  • Quantify the quality aspects of the brand.
  • Integrate seamlessly with POS systems that allow companies to report stock and summary transactions daily.[3]

Besides POS, ERPs can be easily integrated with different pieces of software. The amalgamation of disparate pieces of software facilitates the movement of data quickly, easily, and accurately from one end of the retail process to the other. This enables managers and users make better decisions (based on data and facts and not guesswork). [3]

One of the best aspects of an ERP is its reporting system. This is what allows management to gain control over all departments. It typically ranges from product planning, development, manufacturing, sales and marketing of a product in a single application. You can always know your profit and loss, and your company balance sheet will be at your fingertips. [3]

If you are a retailer, and seek guidance to help your business overcome these challenges posed by the Covid19 -outbreak, do connect with us at Softype.

References:

    1. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/automation-in-retail-an-executive-overview-for-getting-ready#
    2. https://www.exceloid.com/industries/erp-for-general-retail/
    3. https://erpsolutions.oodles.io/blog/retail-erp-software/

Softype is a global provider of cloud business automation solutions and an experienced enterprise consulting provider to medium and large enterprises. We have more than 15 years of successful experience with ERP system implementations, business process consulting, and integration. We have offices in the US, Philippines, India and Kenya.

We have been a Solution Partner for Oracle NetSuite, the original and leader cloud ERP, since 2004. We have successfully assisted more than 400 clients across 25 countries and four continents over the past 17 years. Besides NetSuite, our company has expertise in workflow automation and integration for the WD, Retail, Education and Light Manufacturing industries. We are partners of StoreHub Cloud POS and Workato for integration and automation for different enterprises.

We do not just build things/spaces or create software. Our focus is practical solutioning coupled with expert service delivery of software projects to maximize our clients’ investments in business automation solutions that they undertake. We partner with them to deliver the promise of success.

For further information, reach out to us at info@softype.com or call us at +1 650 488 4412 (Global), +63 917 173 6625 (Philippines), +91 2240871095 (India), and +254 720 940 174 (Africa).

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Ms. Juliana Luz

Co-Chairman and Co-Founder

Juliana (Nana) holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Stanford University.

The first development of cloud computing found Nana working in this area with her own start-up. Understanding the benefit of consolidating data and systems into a single version of the truth, she then partnered with NetLedger (now Oracle NetSuite) to offer a fully functional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system built exclusively on the cloud.

Nana’s expertise includes envisioning change and delivering value to growth-oriented businesses. Utilizing ERP technology and her advanced skills in process optimization, she streamlines processes, eliminates redundancies and manual processes, and facilitates digital transformations for Softype clients.

A ‘hands-on expert, Nana has, since founding Softype, participated in dozens of projects across 26 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and all over Asia. Nana serves on the board of La Proteccion de la Infancia (Gota de Leche) and United Success Global.

Mr. Hugh Klesch-Sawyer

Digital Marketing Specialist

Hugh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management from Old Dominion University.

As the son of a grocery store owner’s parents, Hugh started his marketing education early, beginning at around 10 years old. After beginning his Softype career in Sales, he discovered that additional marketing knowledge would be beneficial. He began to immerse himself in marketing education and in 2021, Hugh started a 6-month Digital Marketing certification course through the Digital Marketing Institute and American Marketing Association. After 4 months in the program, Hugh earned his Digital Marketing Specialist and Professional Certified Marketer certifications. In January 2022, he accepted a position  change from Sales/Business Development to Digital Marketing Specialist.

Hugh’s mantra is: “If you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.”

Mr. Terence Michael C. Rena

Customer Success Officer

Terence holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines with a major in Tourism Management.

Terence’s experience includes sales and marketing roles, particularly creating marketing strategies, promotions, and retention programs in the travel and tourism industry. Since joining Softype in 2021, Terence has been a prime driver of marketing insights and a facilitator of key marketing initiatives in the Asia Pacific region. Event management is his specialty, including both online and in-person events that attract potential Softype clients to engage with the brand. Additionally, Terence is the face of Softype to our clients in Asia and Africa, ensuring they receive optimal service.

Personally, Terence enjoys basketball, cycling, guitar playing, mecha (robot) modeling, and video games. His daily mantra is as follows: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Mr. Ebenezer (Ebe) Mutungwa

African Sales

Ebe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ebenezer (Ebe) Mutungwa earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). Ebe combines outstanding communication skills with expert knowledge of NetSuite ERP (5 years in pre-sales for NetSuite Africa). Although, as Softype’s Sales officer for the African continent, Ebe works with organizations in various industries, he has a soft spot for nonprofit organizations. A previous
NGO manager, Ebe understands their challenges and demonstrates how they can leverage the Oracle NetSuite ERP and NetSuite’s Social Impact program to support their mission.

When not working, Ebe enjoys traveling, jogging, playing the guitar, and spending time with family and friends. His words to live by are “Through it all; all is well.”

Mr. Jack V. Lazo

North American Sales

Jack attended the University of the Philippines, majoring in Hospitality Management.

Jack’s experience includes 4 years in the broadcasting industry and more than 33 years in enterprise information technology solutions sales. In the broadcast industry, Jack learned to match his style to anyone’s; he uses this skill today to communicate in a manner his clients appreciate. Jack combines empathetic listening skills with IT solutions knowledge to understand the finer points of what his customers require, need, and want.

Jack prizes spending time with his family. When he has time, he enjoys listening to music and watching soccer and mixed martial arts.

Mr. Chris Beecroft CPA

Vice President of Sales

Chris holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Florida Atlantic University, an MBA from Florida State University, and is pursuing a DBA degree from AMA University.

Chris has more than 16 years of software sales experience, including 13 years in ERP sales with Oracle and SAP. Combining his ERP and accounting knowledge (CPA), Chris finds the right solution for our clients. He dives headfirst into the details of his team’s engagements, ensuring that Softype’s solutions are always the best fit. Others describe Chris as action-oriented, hands-on, and accountable.

Personally, Chris enjoys tennis, squash, badminton, biking, and reading. He also enjoys leading others to change their lives by providing personal guidance. His words to live by are “Who Dares Wins.”

Mr. Upendra Rabde

Solutions Architect

Upendra holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Indus Business Academy in Bengaluru, India. His credentials include the academic specialties of Information Technology and Marketing.

Upendra’s experience includes business consulting and business process re-engineering. He brings more than 17 years of technical solution development experience to Softype. He counts experience in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Supply Chain Management (SCM) integration projects in the manufacturing, telecom, healthcare, retail, banking, and insurance industries. He is proficient in procurement solutions and complex regulatory and compliance areas. Upendra also counts additional product management experience in the health care industry.

Joining Softype in 2021, Upendra brings a capability for hyper learning and an outstanding attitude, two traits in the Softype DNA, and is always a pleasure to work with.

On a personal note, he enjoys HAM radio operations and watching cricket matches. Upendra’s philosophy of life is summarized in his daily mantra: Past is history, future is mystery but today is a gift; that’s why it’s called present.

Ms. Pooja Manudhane

Product Manager

Pooja holds a degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai. She has also completed an MBA focusing on accounting and business processes.

Pooja’s association with Softype began in 2012. She joined Softype as a Junior Functional Consultant. From the beginning, she was engaged in working with clients, specializing in training clients to undergo digital transformations successfully. Pooja developed a knack for visualizing ERP solutions to inefficient processes and communicating her vision to clients.

Pooja automated manual processes using the NetSuite ERP solution, thereby improving worker productivity. As her experience grew, Pooja received promotions to Senior Functional Consultant and Product Manager. She mentors junior colleagues in technical and business processes and, in so doing, helps evolve and propagate the Softype company culture.

Pooja understands that NetSuite ERP is the cloud ERP provider of choice because of the ease with which it can be adapted to different industries, its intuitive User Interface (UI), and the speed with which Softype can successfully implement it (a few months).

Pooja delights in working with customers in different countries. Her patient approach to managing change and guiding subordinates has won her praise from clients and co-workers
alike.

Ms. Prachi Shende

Program Lead, Education Vertical

Prachi has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics from the University of Mumbai and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas.

Prachi began her working career in the US (California). Over the years, she has moved from a purely technical role to a techno-functional role. As a techno-functional consultant, she can work with business, functional, and technical teams. Her specialty is implementing and customizing systems aligned with industry best practices. During her tenure of service, Softype promoted her five times in five years, culminating with her current position. Versatile and dynamic, Prachi cherishes a fast-paced work environment that allows her professional skills to grow. Her work is in the K-12 and tertiary education domains. She oversees the Softype education ERP (edERP) product development and management. The edERP product continues to evolve and expand due to new requirements in an ever-changing education sector. This gives her a chance to grow by constantly reinventing herself.

Prachi’s passion is to help educational institutions grow by migrating their enterprise-wide resources to cloud based systems. She believes that “Given new situations, the market for edERP, i.e., education on the cloud service, is here to grow. It’s about how we best serve it.”

Ms. Manisha Hule

Chief Operating Officer

Manisha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Mumbai.

Manisha is the delivery manager for Softype’s ERP services. Experienced in project planning and execution, she provides leadership for all Softype’s solution consulting and implementation activities. Manisha began her career at Softype, working in all of its various departments, culminating in her selection as a member of the Executive team. Manisha has experience in all aspects of project organization and delivery. An excellent team manager, Manisha ensures that customer projects get the optimum resources required, facilitating minimal risk implementations that meet delivery schedules. Manisha’s expertise and guidance are significant factors in ensuring, that, unlike many ERP vendors, Softype implementations are delivered successfully and on time.

Mr. Moses Rajan

Global Finance Officer

Moses holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from the University of Mumbai, specializing in Accounting and Economics.

Moses has more than 15 years of experience in ERP implementations and rollouts in a wide variety of industries across multiple geographies. He has engaged with clients across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Building on this experience, Moses helps Softype’s customers manage the financial complexities of multi-books, multi-currencies, multi-exchange rates, landed costs, and the myriads of tax regimes such as sales tax, VAT, GST, and others that impact businesses. Working with Softype’s customers, Moses brings his experience to bear on their challenges of dealing with budgets, cash flows, currency revaluations, and financial controls.

Mr. Nikunj Shah

Chief Executive Officer

Nikunj holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from the University of Mumbai, specializing in Audit and Finance.

Striking a balance between theory and practice, Nikunj helps clients through solution consulting and implementation work. Working at the nexus of accounting and technical change, his wisdom and insights are invaluable in steering the digital transformation of Softype clients. With extensive technical awareness and expertise, he is particularly adept at juggling multiple stakeholder interests that manifest themselves during the journey, always mindful of the client’s interests while fostering the teamwork and trust needed by all.

Nikunj’s portfolio includes designing an accounting solution and implementing best practices for the order to cash, procure to pay, and cost accounting processes. He has enabled ERP solution implementations across many countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Japan, Thailand, and the United States of America.

Nikunj professes that “Digital Transformation requires People, Processes, and Technology to be in harmony. Where this synergy exists, success will follow.”

Dr. Arvind Khilnani

Chairman and Co-Founder

Dr. Arvind holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering (MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts), a Master’s degree in Management (MIT Sloan School) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Economic Systems (Stanford University).

A dedicated teacher and mentor, Arvind believes in Leadership through inspiration. Trained as a mathematical modeling and optimization analyst, Arvind focused his early career on developing tools to enable company growth. He worked with Fortune 500 companies to adapt their use of technology for growing new, evolving markets. Presently his efforts seek to expand these tools to small and medium enterprises.

Since co-founding Softype, he has channeled his energies to help international organizations grow by leveraging the benefits of technology, including process optimization and automation.