ERP Software in the Multichannel World

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Multichannel business managers frequently voice the desire to have one system or software package that is capable of managing the entire enterprise, encompassing all functional areas. Enterprise resources planning (ERP) systems have been available for years. Because the multichannel phenomenon–traditional brick-and-mortar businesses reaching into direct marketing, and traditional direct-to-customer companies developing brick-and-mortar stores as well as a Web presence–is so recent, it has in many cases outstripped the ability of software vendors to keep pace.

Having a single computer system control all functional areas in a business and use a common customer, inventory, order, and item database makes perfect sense, and the potential synergy between channels and the ability to maximize the customer experience are clear opportunities. Unfortunately, the search for and implementation of such a solution has frequently proved difficult.

The push to provide an overall multichannel solution has generally manifested itself in two ways. Traditional ERP vendors, whose genesis was in manufacturing, have tried to develop functionality geared to the specific needs of multichannel companies. Existing niche vendors in the direct-to-customer or retail worlds are trying to broaden their offerings to include more functional areas and look more like true ERPs. Both approaches have met with limited success...

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JONATHAN MABERRYis a New York Times best-seller, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, anthology editor, comic book writer, executive producer, magazine feature writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer. He is the editor of Weird Tales Magazine and president of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. He is the recipient of the Inkpot Award, three Scribe Awards, and was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers

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