It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem, isn’t it?
How do you know what information you’re missing, if you don’t know what information you need in the first place?
We speak to merchants every day who are currently using financial platforms or manual (think Excel spreadsheets) processes to manage their stock and sales.
And it’s working just fine.
But what we often hear, once they’ve seen what a newer, cloud-based ERP system is capable of, is how much better it could be with the right tools.
The right tools for the job
Merchanting, much like retailing, relies on certain critical functions, but it's a lot more complex, in a number of ways.
Firstly, merchants often deal with the trading of measured materials rather than simply unit-based items.
So being able to handle stock using different metrics and variables like length, weight or volume can often be a lot more useful – and accurate – than dealing with single unit barcodes or similar.
Secondly, where a retail transaction tends to be instantaneous, merchanting often needs to incorporate a more complex timeline.
Sometimes that’s because of material availability, sometimes it’s because the customer doesn’t need the stock right away, sometimes it’s because a chosen material needs particular milling or finishing processes applied before delivery – and so on.
But merchants need to be able to account for the timeline of a product or multi-product delivery, as well as the intricacies of the treatments required along the way.
Basic stock-and-sell software can’t handle the complexities of merchanting in the way that industry-specific software can. Having the right software for your sector can save time, boost profits and actively improve both staff and customer experience.
Measuring the things that pay to be measured
If you’ve been using the same system for a long time, you may be unaware of what other systems are able to do.
For Merchanter, we have developed a whole host of unique KPIs and metrics to help merchants measure, monitor and optimise the processes within their business operations.
Take stock turn for example. Being able to see, at a glance, how regularly and profitably a particular stock line is purchased can build up an enormously valuable picture of the efficiency and profitability of your sales and replenishment tactics, giving you instant insights which you can apply in your stock profile and purchasing decisions.
If stock takes are still causing you to have to close branches and lose out on trade, but are a necessary evil to keep on top of stock, then you might be glad to know that software like merchanter can help you.
With metrics like Stock Confidence to highlight the areas that stock checks are most needed, you can save yourself huge amounts of time, stay on top of stock figures more accurately and instantly spot where the issues are without having to close.
"Merchanter currently has over 120 KPIs built in as standard, with opportunities for further customisation."
Price tracking is another one proving incredibly valuable for customers right now. Being able to monitor the rapidly fluctuating prices in the market, and set margin and credit controls within the system, means that your buyers and sales teams will always be trading profitably, without being bogged down in daily red tape. You can empower your team to work independently and make faster decisions safe in the knowledge your bottom line is fully protected.
Customer insights can pay for themselves too. Most merchants know who their top customers are – but not so many know their fifth, or tenth, or fiftieth. While some customers may appear to be great for business, having the figures at hand to how how profitable the relationship really is can be invaluable, as some customers could actually be costing you money, while others could be upsold to or optimised in other ways.
Merchanter currently has over 120 KPIs built in as standard, with opportunities for customisation if you need something different. We won’t list them all here, but just imagine what might be possible if you could shine a light into every area of your business and have that information at your fingertips more easily.
The key point really is, information is power. And when you don’t know what you don’t know, you can’t make those critical decisions which elevate your business to the next level.
Integrating with best-in-class solutions
Traditionally, merchants have relied on monolithic, cumbersome trading systems which (technically) perform every task in the business.
While at first glance that might sound handy, the unfortunate effect is actually that these systems are usually very slow to adapt to new requirements and are incredibly complex to learn and use.
If the last few years have taught the world anything, it’s the importance of responsiveness.
Being flexible is vital, and without a modern, cloud-system underpinning your operations, it’s rather like trying to turn an ocean-liner as opposed to a speedboat.
Modern systems sit as an agile hub at the centre of your business, linking up with best-in-class solutions to help augment your service and operational processes. These might be financial platforms like Sage, Xero or Quickbooks; eCommerce platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce; online selling services like NearSt or SnapIt, marketplaces like Plane & Simple or stock extension platforms like VirtualStock.
Whatever the technology you’re looking to take advantage of, you need a back office system that’s able to integrate to keep you at the cutting edge of merchanting possibility and customer expectation.
Reach YOUR goals with the right software
Whether or not you’re looking to expand your business – and we know not everyone is – we’re yet to meet a merchant who wouldn’t want to improve efficiency and profitability.
The right system, giving you the right information, can transform your operations, your profits, your service proposition and even your work-life balance.
A hundred small process improvements can add up to huge improvements overall.
Find out what YOU don’t know (yet!)
If you’re curious about what you might be missing in your business, why not try out the online demo system for 30 days?
We don’t do the “hard sell” so you’re free to play around with it as much as you like to see how it could work for you.
Or if you prefer, you could book a discovery call or guided demo to get a detailed view of what the system is capable of.