The drive towards digital transformation and the adoption of new IT methods, tools and technologies is a business-critical move to build an intelligent enterprise that will stand above the competition and succeed as the enterprise of tomorrow.
Intelligent enterprises use the latest technologies to turn insight into action across the business – in real-time. As a result, they accelerate data-driven innovation and process automation, launch new business models and more.
However, such an edge can be difficult to achieve. According to IDC market spotlight: “Digital Transformation in Times of Change: What Intelligent Enterprises Need from Their ERP Systems”, only 48.3% of surveyed executives believe they can drive new levels of efficiency and effectiveness and enable transformational business models.
That is why a top question that CFOs and CEOs are asking is how they can drive a successful digital transformation journey and become an intelligent enterprise, but when it comes to starting the process of moving to digital e-commerce, the thought of an ERP system upgrade is liable to bring people out in a cold sweat.
“The good news is that companies do not have to change ERP systems,” says Lionel de Oliveira, Sales Manager South Africa, Seidor Africa. “All that is needed is a solution that is integrated. The long-term view would be to integrate both technology and business processes, thereby moving towards becoming an intelligent enterprise.
“Start by getting the basic digital platform for integrated e-commerce in place and add additional capabilities as the business expands. It’s an approach that will allow a business model to flourish, not force it to change,” he says. De Oliveira offers five steps to getting it right:
1. Set up for success
A good way to start a digital journey is by integrating a secure digital platform in real-time with the business-critical ERP system. Pricing, stock availability and product information will be live from the ERP software and placed orders will go straight back into the system, thereby eliminating manual processing. This means the business can be on every platform, social channel and marketplace out there, ready for orders to come in.
2. Be where the customers are
The key to improving sales and retention is based on how customers experience products and services. Business has to make sure that products are in front of the right people when they look for it, the offer to buy is persuasive and compelling, and the shopping process is simple. Being where customers are is key, which is why a robust SEO capability is critical. When the ideal customer is looking for a product or service, businesses need to know where they are likely to start their journey and be there when they decide to buy. Having a thoughtful and helpful presence where customers are, puts the brand in a good place to create customer relationships.
3. Easy to buy and keep on buying
When customers have 24/7 access to full product offerings via a digital catalogue, ordering is easy and with integration, stock availability is fed straight from the ERP system, making it always live and accurate. Customers need to effortlessly search for the product they want by keyword, product name and brand or SKU code, and re-ordering from order history needs to be made quick and easy with favourites and recent products too. Add-ons can make it simple to integrate with major payment gateways, marketing and analytical tools, making it easy for customers to make payments and remain loyal when they leave the site.
4. Stand out from the competition
Real-time ERP integration gives customers extra functionality and a superior level of confidence. Live stock availability, customer-specific pricing and discounts, access to account information like invoices and order history, and nice touches like being able to place larger orders by uploading a spreadsheet, all help keep new customers coming back for more. For larger customers, the ability to view products and place orders without leaving their own procurement system offers ease of use and a level of functionality that offers a competitive advantage.
5. Be future ready
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that businesses need to be ready to adapt to whatever comes next. When change happens, it is vital to have the right digital tools in place so as to always be ready for opportunity. Whether change is needed on processing orders, moving into new global markets or new sales channels, the opportunities to win new customers can be far-reaching when the right digital solution is in place.
“A digital platform with ERP integrated e-commerce, mobile app and e-procurement offers any ambitious company multiple ways to win new customers, along with the ability to future-proof their business,” concludes De Oliveira.
Author: Elaine Havenga