e-Commerce, change management, project & programme management, it, logistics, supply chain & retail

Choosing a System for your Retail Business - Big i Consulting

The choice of systems for a retail business can often be more complex than first realised, and without careful thought a poor choice can have a negative impact in the retail environment.


The most important question I would encourage every business to answer is “why are we doing this?” The answer to this question should be the guide used to judge the suitability of any systems under review.

Why Are We Doing This?

There are some common answers to this question, but giving it a little thought will increase the chances that the final system(s) selection will be an asset to the business, rather than a millstone to be carried into the future.

  • Lower operating costs.
  • Increase sales.
  • Reduce inventory waste.
  • Improve purchasing.
  • Reduce fraud.

If the benefits for the system are financial, then typical financial criteria can be applied to aid system selection. What is the payback period, what will the ROI be? These can be viewed in comparison with existing retail activity. Should you purchase the system or take on a new product line or open a new store? When discussing systems with suppliers, share your reasons with them.

For larger retail businesses there may be many and complex reasons for implementing a retail system, and it is of benefit to produce a detailed scoping document that can be shared with suppliers. This document provides a benchmark for judging how close the fit of any system is to the business requirements and a written response from the supplier can be used as a benchmark during the implementation of the project and final acceptance of the system.

What is a Retail System?

That can very much depend on the size and type of the retail business. Obviously in a single store, with a single till point, the cash register could be described as the retail system. There are many stand-alone cash registers that will perform well and provide adequate sales information to allow the single store retailer to plan stock purchases and assist in the identification of fraud

More complex systems for larger retail premises and multiple site retail businesses can provide more benefits, including detailed stock management systems, but these can come with an operational cost to the retail business and need to be considered carefully, especially if you are not able to integrate the retail systems. This can result in administrative burden in the store.

Significant benefits can be realised if your retail system is integrated with other systems in the business, such as the accounting system, warehouse management system and e-commerce system. Here information flows can replace routine administrative functions. A simple click of the mouse can perform tasks that have traditionally taken people away from the core activities of a retail business, interacting with customers.

  • Automated store replenishment ordering.
  • Automated store delivery receipting.
  • Centralised control of pricing.
  • Improved cash-up and banking times.
  • Reduction in the weekly and monthly store returns paperwork.
  • Click and collect.

ERP and Retail

Larger retailers will significantly benefit from an integrated ERP and retail system. Obviously costs are higher, implementation is more complex, and a cultural change programme within all aspects of the retail business can be needed to deliver all the benefits promised by the systems. However, these projects, if successful, deliver the best results. Consideration of the system now goes beyond the retail environment and directly impacts the whole retail business, and often the wider environment such as suppliers, logistics providers and customers.


One of the key benefits of a retail system is the potential for data analysis, to deliver something extra, beyond the initial reasons for choosing a retail system.

It is possible that the entire retail project can be funded by the cash yielded by reducing both in-store and centralised inventory. Customer relationship management can deliver incremental sales value, promotional offer analysis can allow more creative marketing and changes to the store ordering profile can deliver warehouse efficiencies.

With over 25 years experience with retail systems, e-commerce, logistics and supply chain Stephen Milner has implemented numerous retail systems delivering significant business benefits.