Retail is the sale of goods and services from individuals or businesses to the end-user. Retailers are part of an integrated system called the supply chain. A retailer purchases goods or products in large quantities from manufacturers directly or through a wholesale, and then sells smaller quantities to the consumer for a profit. Retailing can be done in either fixed locations like stores or markets, door-to-door or by delivery. Retailing includes subordinated services, such as delivery.
With increase in globalization of retailers pertaining to their points-of-sale, as well as their supply chain, the Information Technology (IT) dependency in the retail sector has increased double fold and hence plays an increasingly vital role in managing the complexities of retail operation.
Almost 95% of the functionality of retail operations depends on customized point solutions in areas of Transactions, supply chain management, in-store operations, marketing and promotions planning. This means the underlying IT systems to drive operations are equally complex.
The infrastructure of the retail sector is changing at light speed. The emergence of shopping malls, multi located stores in the metros is growing rapidly and with continuous plans of expansion. The non-food sector, lifestyle segments like apparel, accessories, fashion etc. Is feeling the significant change with the emergence of new stores formats like convenience stores, mini marts, mini supermarkets, large supermarkets and hyper marts. Even food retailing has became an important retail business in the national arena, with large format retail stores, establishing stores all over.
IT now has become the heart of retail operations and hence play a pivotal role in alleviating pressure points in the retail sector. With the reverse also holding true-retailers who do not manage IT landscape effectively eventually find that, in time, the IT systems become part of the problem rather than components of the solution.
There are two critical areas where IT can reduce complexity and improve results:
Functional retail areas
Data cleansing and architecture
Software enables retail businesses to accurately return the process across all departments and channels through real-time return authorizations to enable security and check frauds. It has to be designed to simultaneously minimize frauds and optimize customer service, program speeds check out process while ensuring that all returns are from legitimate customer purchases and that cashiers are following all store policies. It is tailor made to take into consideration the criteria that are considered important by the retail business industry.
Software is made keeping in mind the necessity of a shop owner to know exactly the optimum stock available and exact sales amount. Monitoring of this kind helps one to understand which product is selling well and on what occasions. This further helps the business owners decide which products must always be in stock and which do not sell. Besides, it also helps one know which ones sell on all occasions and which ones are occasion specific. The information helps the business owners invest wisely to maximize their profits. The software removes the laborious manual computations that the businessmen of yesteryears had to necessarily perform to make sound business judgments.