Are companies in nonprofit and retail industries using business software? You may be surprised (Part 1)

June 1, 2015
June 1, 2015 TM Group

Are companies in nonprofit and retail industries using business software? You may be surprised (Part 1)

Think business software can't help businesses like grocery stores? Think again.

Discussions of business software like enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management platforms tend to skew toward the the types of companies that were historically the heaviest users of such systems. ERP was originally developed specifically with manufacturers in mind, and CRM has an obvious focus on businesses that focus on sales and marketing to a variety of customer types.

These industries were the original intended users of ERP and CRM, but the increase in functionality and the wide array of add-on components available mean many other types of businesses can benefit from such software as well. Here’s a look at some industries where businesses are using such platforms to great effect, creating better operational outcomes:

Associations and non-for-profit groups
While nonprofits distribute their earnings to causes instead of to shareholders and owners, they still operate in very similar ways to businesses. While the end goal of these groups is to help others, their structure and internal functions are no different in many respects. Because nonprofits often have a limited budget to work with – and can only dedicate so much additional revenue to operations – the efficiencies realized through software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP, and the flexible, cloud-deployed NetSuite platform, can make a big difference to the bottom line. In essence, nonprofits can put the increases in efficiency and effectiveness to work by providing more aid to the causes they support.

While there are many advantages conferred by ERP and CRM software to consider for associations and not-for-profit organizations, some of the most powerful are: better communication with contributors; more efficient and error-free recordkeeping; significant reductions in the need for manual data entry; and a single, connected management system. More transparency into financial trails also leads to better compliance with various laws related to businesses in general and to nonprofits in particular.

Retail and grocery businesses
The systems used by grocery and retail stores – bar-code scanners and inventory checklists, to name just two – are already oriented to gather and collate data about purchases. One of the major reasons that such processes are used is to try to provide a consistent stocking level, to aid in attracting and maintaining a customer base by keeping those products available regardless of when the next visit to a retail location or supermarket occurs.

With a business software solution such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP, CRM or NetSuite, those operating in the retail and grocery fields can better harness data and use it to further improve customer experiences. One area outside of consistent stocking to consider is the assignment of staff during peak times of operation. Business software allows companies to make accurate, detailed projections of when the heaviest demand will fall based on past data. This information can then lead to better distribution of employees on the schedule, making sure that the times when the most customers are in-store are also the times when the most staff members are scheduled.

Having a wealth of data about the supply chain as well as the front-of-house sales to customers means retail and grocery businesses can create the best possible opportunities to offer products and drive revenue upward. Automating various parts of the overall operation, whether it’s ordering based on inventory levels or business forecasting provided on demand, also offers some obvious benefits.

Taking the first step
No matter which industry you’re in, finding the right ERP or CRM partner to help you through the process is critical. Make sure the organization you partner with has specific experience in your field and a variety of different business software platforms to choose from.

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