What’s in store for retail and B2B

Joschwischer Acomatica

Josh Fisher

In our rapidly changing digital economy, retailers and B2B e-commerce businesses face many challenges, including maintaining inventory, intense online competition, concerns about market uncertainty and rising inflation. Additionally, a major challenge that is rarely discussed is staff recruitment, hiring, and retention.

Digital technologies and cloud-based business management solutions will help merchants evolve with the changing landscape.

consider it 47 million people have left their jobs Last year, resulting in severe staffing shortages for companies across industries. Approximately 60% of jobs in both the wholesale and retail sectors and the manufacturing of durable goods are left vacantAccording to data from the American Chamber of Commerce. The data showed that the wholesale and retail industry also experienced a “stop rate” of 3.3% in 2022, while manufacturing of durable goods saw 2.1%.

The complexities of the labor market have left business leaders looking for ways to maintain and improve their operations while dealing with fewer employees. After all, you can not hire employees who do not want to fill vacancies.

Fortunately for merchants, another option is available. Intelligent business management software and automated technologies help drive retail success, enabling more modern workflows and flexible business processes.

How automation helps merchants overcome labor shortages

Companies are taking advantage of automated technologies, such as cloud ERP solutions, which help them manage accounting, finance, and projects, and navigate current market challenges. A survey commissioned by software company UiPath found that Nearly 80% of responding companies are affected by labor shortages You will invest in automation to make up for the shortage of workers.

By automating processes, companies can do more with fewer resources. For example, implementing automated processes can allow B2B manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers to simplify tasks such as entering product data, fulfilling customer orders, synchronizing inventory, and managing returns without making additional assignments. Automating these workflows helps increase efficiency by eliminating error-prone manual methods.

Additionally, business management software and cloud ERP solutions enhance collaboration across the enterprise. By implementing intelligent business management software, companies can collect and synchronize data from each department to a central database that provides real-time data. As a result, businesses can simplify workflows, automate business processes, and integrate different systems. Ultimately, companies can enable their existing talent to boost efficiency.

While automation requires fewer assistants, it empowers and leads the expertise of existing employees by providing them with better tools and information. In other words, it is an investment in your existing talent. Providing them with better tools allows employees to have satisfying workplace and customer interactions, enhance the workplace experience, and raise morale.

However, for business management software to be effective, it must involve frontline workers and be easy for employees to understand, especially given the The current high rate of business turnover. Simply put, you don’t want to spend a lot of time training employees to use complex automated technology if industry turnover indicates a limited extent of participation.

Adapting to the changing industry with business management platform

Not only do retail businesses face a complex job market, they are also dealing with an ever-evolving industry.

We regularly hear the word “disruption” when discussing the many industries that have been affected by new technology. But no industry has been quite as affected as retail and B2B commerce.

What was once an industry of bricks and vehicles is now the first online industry. Shoppers search the internet for the best deals and prices. Buying online and picking up at the store has become so popular that it has got its own acronym: Puppies. This new standard has veered away from the historical definition of the term “retail,” and is not unique to B2C retailers.

B2B companies understand that their buyers want the same online experiences when purchasing business-oriented merchandise. They want online resources, product information, self-service purchasing tools, customer pricing, and personalized experiences. Not to mention the rapid adoption of B2B companies (especially manufacturers) that sell directly to the consumer (D2C).

Customers expect merchants to keep up with these rapid changes. How can these traders grow when they are facing all this chaos? Traders’ answer is multifaceted, but simple:

  1. Create distinct customer experiences through every form of engagement
  2. Maximize the number of channels in which your products can be found
  3. Build a community around buyers and turn your customers into loyal fans
  4. Optimize and automate back office tasks (eg, customer engagement, order fulfillment, returns, inventory management, and just-in-time replenishments)
  5. Keep recruiting new buyers while attracting existing customers back for repeat purchases

Digital natives have led the charge in adopting and using new tools like Shopify and BigCommerce to elevate customer engagement and experiences. However, this new generation of trade leaders have no experience in supply chain and inventory management. Instead, they are the community builders who identify the products their audience desires, and then use modern tools to connect the two.

Often, small merchants start selling products out of their garage or spare bedrooms; But as they build their customer base, they’re seeing an increase in sales across a range of channels. As a result, merchants must determine how to organize their business in such a way that they can scale and manage larger volumes of orders, transactions, and customers.

Enter the business management platform.

By using a business management platform, merchants can organize, automate, and run their back office operations efficiently. More specifically, these systems balance back office workflow management (eg, inventory, accounting, order fulfillment, etc.) with front office tasks such as customer experience. Merchants gain a better understanding of the supply chain and distribution process through data and analytics, enabling them to reach more customers.

Retail and B2B commerce will continue to be redefined. In the coming years, we’ll see technologies like VR and AR change the digital and physical buying experiences. We’ll see AI guide buyers through their purchasing decisions for hardware and help them independently purchase parts and supplies. We’ll see the metaverse change to what we think of as “retail stores”. With the new commodification of online shopping, in-person stores are more likely to move to more experience-based locations and tech-filled distribution centers that know who customers are and what they’re interested in buying.

Digital technologies and cloud-based business management solutions will help merchants evolve with the changing landscape and empower employees with the tools and information that enable them to be efficient. The forward-thinking traders who dare to apply these techniques will drive the success of trading now and in the future.

About the author:

Josh Fisher is Director of Product and Retail Management at Acumatica, a company that provides cloud-based ERP technology. follow him LinkedIn And the Twitter.

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