From The Editor | September 5, 2013

Why SMRs Are Moving Order Management To The Cloud

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies
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By Bob Johns

Bob Johns, Robert Johns, associate editor

Small-to-midsize retailers are leveraging cloud-based solutions to handle everything from order and inventory management to customer data, all without a large IT department.

The transition from keeping siloed, separate channels to becoming omni-channel can be a trying process. A lot of the issues with becoming omni-channel revolve around order management. When you are a small to midsized retailer, this can be an even greater challenge, since these retailers normally lack an extensive IT department. This is one of the major reasons we are seeing so many retailers moving order management to the cloud.  

“With orders coming in through multiple online channels, keeping track of inventory and maintaining everything in real time is no longer a trivial exercise,” says Fred Lizza, CEO of Dydacomp.  “You may have a small business owner who sells merchandise in their store, on their website, and also on eBay. It is very difficult for businesses to track all of these orders across channels and ensure they can fulfill every order.” The key to staying on top of the orders is having one unified workflow to fill all orders, track customer information, and maintaining accurate quantities on hand. Dydacomp has developed a cloud-based solution named Freestyle Commerce which can integrate with their Magento e-commerce site or Amazon and others to manage the orders and customer data.

Freestyle is a cloud-based solution that handles intelligent order, customer, and inventory management. “Freestyle supports the Magento environment from eBay because it is the single-most popular platform for small to midsize retailers,“ says Lizza. “But, we can work with many platforms. The big thing with us is the fact that we work directly with the customer to identify the business issues, not just hand them a box with a standard solution. We aim to elevate the business intelligence to allow business owners and executives make better decisions.” It can come down to providing the best data to solve problems before they become problems. The analytics packages can help evaluate inventory levels to determine where levels need to be increased or decreased. The analytics can identify patterns and trends to see the status of the business at a glance. Inventory is the single largest expense for most retailers, and having it available is key to the customer experience. If you don’t have the product or can’t get it to the customer when promised, you can lose that customer for life. This is why the data Is so important.

“Small businesses need data just as much as any other size retailer, but it becomes even more important for that data to be presented in an actionable manner,” says Lizza. “Big retailers have large IT staffs to mine data and create reports. Small businesses do not have that luxury.” When you look at companies that are doing under $30 million, the majority have limited IT budgets and staffs. Leveraging the power of the cloud is a huge help to these companies, both from the aspect of up-front costs being lower and upgrades being immediate and less expensive, and from the aspect of being able to leverage high-level analytics without expending resources. Relying on cloud technology to manage the customer, orders, and inventory just makes sense for retailers of all sizes as they struggle to compete in the dog-eat-dog world of retail.