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Managing Multi-Country Operations in Retail

Enterprise retailers face many of the same challenges that other industries experience, until the complexities of multiple currencies, locations (multiple stores across geographies) and platforms (multiple eCommerce stores across different geographies) are added to the mix.   This is where the retail challenges really stand alone in isolation from other sectors. The success or failure of your retail operation can rest on one-tenth of one percent margin and a system that does not allow you to reflect an accurate margin in your prices can cost you money and put you out of business.  Furthermore,  if the EPOS software is not fully integrated with your financial software for purchases, sales promotions, returns, decision making, credits and vouchers you will not have an accurate picture of costs and margins. Without true margin line item, group, store and region your reports are not giving you the full picture.

There are many other risks prevalent in retail, including:

Multiple Currencies:

Accepting payments in foreign currencies may appear to be straightforward, but it involves the complicated and ever changing exchange rates, not to mention, the management of payments data and internal accounting systems.  Multiple currencies affect every aspect of a business, including forecasting, reports, profit margins, quotes and fulfilment in the back end and transactions, returns, cash back and pricing at the customer facing side of the operation.  The challenges posed by the use of multi-currency within retail is particularly acute due to the fast moving nature of goods pricing and payment but it is essential to survival because consumers demand clear pricing of the products, including shipping and therefore, prefer to pay in their own currency.

For some products, currency fluctuations can affect them quite a lot. These variations can have implications for your own prices and margins. Knowing the value of your stock at any time greatly enhances your own ability to price and sell inventory accordingly.

Multiple Stores – On and Offline:

The lines between online and in-store shopping are becoming blurred as consumers demand an omnichannel experience.  For example, consumers believe that they are entitled to purchase an item online and if they wish, return it in-store.  Multiple branch stores will often struggle with returns, particularly when these stores are in different countries e.g. a consumer makes a purchase in a Berlin store, only to return it to the London branch.  This not only involves multiple currency issues but also managing potential stock and inventory issues.

Returns management can be particularly challenging for retailers who are not equipped to deal with these demands.  The Achilles heel of internet retailing, in particular, is the high return rates from customers.   Average rates are estimated to be between 20-40%, and the majority of online retailers cover the return costs, which is difficult to report on if there are no systems that collate this data.

Some stores offer a free delivery service to consumers if they do not have the stock physically in-store, which has a cost associated with it.  This can only work if store assistants can quickly check stock levels in other stores in real time.  Without this service, consumers will be forced to shop elsewhere.

Loyalty and Multiple Platforms

Loyalty should count regardless of where the purchase occurs and rewards should be easily redeemed in-store and online.  Retailers such as Tesco have mastered this after a number of false starts, with their online and offline coupons, but not all retailers have been able to follow suit due to many factors, including a siloed approach to their online stores versus their bricks and mortar stores.  Retailers such as Boots and Tescos have not managed to sync their loyalty programme across geographies and customers who are based in one location are unable to earn or spend points in another country.  While this is not the main reason for consumers to complain, it does break the omnichannel experience that many retailers strive for.

SAP Business One and Retail Add-Ons from TRC Solutions

We have been at the forefront of retail technology for over 25 years and in that time, we have developed partnerships with leading EPOS solutions providers who can guarantee integrated solutions that sync with SAP Business One.   These integrated solutions offer more than better reporting and superior information.  An integrated approach ensures the ability to deliver a true omnichannel experience to your customers.

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