The retail industry, perhaps more than any other, is facing massive disruption. Online commerce is threatening physical outlets, customers are demanding seamless omnichannel experiences, and businesses are under constant pressure to review back-end processes to remain competitive.
Here are some key challenges for the industry – and how technology can help…
Attracting and Retaining Talent
The retail sector is facing a recruitment challenge. With 6% of the workforce comprised of EU citizens and unemployment at historically modest levels, competition for the best people is only getting fiercer.
One way to attract and retain talent is to simplify internal processes and enable employees to focus on the job they were hired to do. Intuitive tools that support smoother business trips, faster expense processing and a reduction in time spent grappling with paper invoices is a good place to start.
Maximising Peaks and Troughs
Seasonality is always a challenge for retailers. How you do maximise returns in busy periods while minimising losses at quieter times? Increasingly, AI (artificial intelligence) is the answer.
According to a survey by Global Market Insights, the global market for AI applications in retail alone will be worth over $8 billion within the next five years.
From the point of view of the finance function, intelligent budget management tools can help them prepare for busy periods. Budget-holders can review consolidated data for a near real-time view of spend and trends – and act before minor anomalies turn into major issues.
Transforming Back-Office Functions
On the front end, retail businesses need to deliver consistent, customer-centric experiences across all channels to drive sales and loyalty. Behind the scenes, driving process efficiencies, visibility and control over spend is how you maximise profit.
Integrated, cloud-based travel, expense and invoice solutions enable retailers to focus on their customers, secure in the knowledge that spend is under control. Supported by user-friendly mobile apps and tools that drive employee adoption and compliance, finance teams get a consistent, actionable and auditable view of spending.
‘We’ve really moved into modern times,’ says Simon Swain of Pentland Brands, an SAP Concur customer. ‘We've got greater visibility and the value of outstanding invoices has come down considerably too, which we see as a major benefit because our month-end accruals are far simpler than they ever were before. Now we've got all the information, all the processes, in one unique solution.’