Section 1: Enterprise Resource Planning Systems
With upwards of 20 stores and operations across multiple countries, Guaranteed Shoe Company should expectedly have supply chains that involve even more countries, staff, and business partners. This renders it necessarily difficult, resource-intensive and laborious to ensure the business runs effectively, especially given the automated online ordering. Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) offer a backbone in the integration and automation of internal information systems and business processes across the logistics, manufacturing, distribution, accounting, human resources and finance functions of the organization.
It offers seamless support for internal processes and integration with external business partners to ensure that value is delivered to the customers. For instance if a client places an order for shoes that are unavailable at a store, the system can have the shoes shipped from other stores, and/or make an order from the supplier without the involvement of staff. Similarly, while the company, currently has to stock products in the stores, determine how fast they move before deciding on the pre-order amount and/or discontinue the product, this can now be done automatically. It is possible to determine how well individual products sell, and ERP systems’ automatic inventory management systems enable the company to automatically re-order more and/or make other decisions regarding the stocks. The system aggregates customers’ orders, handles purchasing and accounts payables, scheduling, order tracking, inventory control and warehousing, distribution/shipment and accounts receivables.
According to O'Brien & Marakas (2010), ERP systems create commerce platforms, backed up with additional support capabilities that include streamlined inventory management, warehouse management and flexible pricing, strengthened back office and core applications (e.g. finance and accounts receivables). Other benefits include increased visibility into the Guaranteed Shoe Company’s supply chain and ease operational scalability. Since the company is headquartered in the US and has 20 branch offices across the world, decision-making is heavily dependent on the ability for the senior managers to get excellent quality information on the company’s performance. With ERP systems, this information is readily available and continuously updated, which means that managers do not have wait for reports from the branch offices before they can a decision.
This way, the system ensures quality and efficiency in the internal processes, cost reduction, provision of real-time cross-functional information to support decision-making, and organizational agility in responding to varying consumer needs. These systems transform Guaranteed Shoe Company into one giant store, despite the geographical dispersion. However, while the company already has a website that allows automated ordering, order processing, and management, it does not have a proper ERP system, which does, however, offer it considerable value. However, the company needs to be alive to the issues associated with the implementation of ERP systems, which owing to their complexity present a considerable risk of implementation failure. Improper implementation may result in catastrophic disruptions. If the company chooses to implement the systems, it is critical to plan, customize the system to the firm’s functions, and manage the change process effectively. This frees up the staff to concentrate on other activities, such as customer service, while at once making the firm’s functional business practices easier for the company, which is critical given the company’s global operations.
Section 2: Customer Relationship Management Systems
Guaranteed Shoe Company thrives based on its great customer services, as perhaps best shown by its commitment to arrange for, and ship shoes that are unavailable at stores to the customers. Given the wide range of products, coupled with every client’s unique needs, it extremely difficult for the company to meet its obligations without the right technology. The CRM software will help the company’s sales, marketing and customer service practitioners to track relevant data about the past and future customers and prospects, as well as other life cycle and business events. Customer information may be captured from numerous contact points, including the website visits, email, fax, retail stores and personal contact with others. The data is then stored in databases that integrated and availed across the organization, effectively facilitating better customer service since all staff can access the clients’ information. Further, Guaranteed Shoe Company’s sales staff would be equipped with the tools and data necessary to support their marketing activities, o;optimizing cross- and up-selling. For instance, emails gathered through multiple contacts can be used to sent marketing information (offers, discounts and product recommendations).
It is easy to customize services to every customer because the company will have a wealth of information about them. For sales agents, decision support is easily the most important aspect of the CRM system, not least because it gives them important information about the customers’ past history, shoe sizes, type, regularity of purchases and responsiveness to marketing campaigns. With the multiple number of stores, it is important that Guaranteed Shoe Company’s retention and loyalty programs are effective by tapping into the pool of existing customers and making sure that they remain committed to the firm. Given the intense competition in the retail market, hanging onto the existing customers is critical, and if the company fully implements the CRM system, it will have the best chance of getting it right. With the help of these systems, the company can save up to 600% of the costs necessary to get new customers, achieve greater customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and equity.
Similarly, the gathered information is important in direct marketing campaigns, not least because allows the company to automate some of the marketing activities, including the planning, scheduling and tracking marketing campaigns. Manipulatable customer data is available to the Guaranteed Shoe Company’s staff, who can assess the performance of marketing campaigns, as a basis for further campaigns. For instance, the number of customers that respond to emails about new shoe lines at the company’s store can be targeted with further marketing messages (including discounts, free deliveries and other offers). Even most importantly, once orders have been placed by the customer, the system’s real-time order tracking and customer support capabilities schedule clients’ requests for service and assign them to staff where necessarily, ensuring that as many customer needs are served to the best possible extent. O'Brien & Marakas (2010) points to call center and help desk modules/software that can make the company’s sales support activities markedly easier.
Section 3: Supply Chain Management Systems
Supply chains, especially for a company whose operations spans several countries are considerable. The most important difficulties for Guaranteed Shoe Company include high volatility in the clients’ demand, higher consumer expectations in regard to customer service, in part because of the intense competition and quality. The company already uses its intranet, extranet, and electronic commerce portals to ensure customer orders are managed efficiently. In addition, the company has to ensure that it meets these expectations at acceptably low costs, because the ability to pass on additional costs to the consumers is limited both by the competition as well as the customers’ unwillingness to accept such costs, which means that if the company has to be profitable, it faces an increasing logistical burden to deliver value. Other challenges include globalized competition, commodity prices’ volatility, complex consumer demand patterns, increased financial volatility (including exchange rate volatility and inflation), globalized labour markets (raising cross-cultural and employee compensation issues), increased exposure to varied regulatory requirements across different countries, supplier landscape complexity, and geopolitical instability. Navigating all these factors is difficult enough, but even worse, is the fact that these variables are characterized by considerable uncertainty.
These risks cannot simply be managed by buying larger insurance policies, and Guaranteed Shoe Company needs to explore a range od strategies to ensure The company should shift its focus towards better cost management (logistical support) and value chain management. Operating costs reduction is critical for survival in this business, and to achieve this,the company needs to cut back its overall inventories, bolster quality, improve customer service, increase the order turnaround time, reduce capital costs and ensure that the company adheres to the highest possible ethical standards. This is impossible to accomplish without a supply chain management system. These systems integrate planning ordering, production and delivery in the organization as well as across the company’s value chain. According to O'Brien & Marakas (2010), these systems use information technology to manage and support the firm’s value creation operations from the supplier to the customer.
This system will help the company to anticipate better the customers’ needs by forecasting, which in turn allows the company to anticipate demand and plan according. Effectively, this will make it possible reduce inventories considerably since the stores will only hold stocks that are likely to move fast. This also cuts back on the cost of holding too much stock (including warehousing) and reduces the probability of shoes being unavailable in the shops and forcing clients to place singular orders that are more expensive to fulfil compared to large orders. In addition, Guaranteed Shoe Company can integrate its supply chain management system with its suppliers, to ensure seamless cooperation in the planning and delivery of the customers’ needs. This eliminates any need to for the company’s staff to fill out orders in order to get more stock. Given the fact that the company’s suppliers are spread across the world, as well as its stores, the instantaneous communication and cooperation is extremely important in overcoming many of the challenges facing a multinational company such as ours. For instance, the changes in the supply chain can be automatically reflected in the product’s pricing, which makes it possible for the company to incur the risks of exchange rate and inflation fluctuations, etc.
Section 4: Business Intelligence
Business intelligence will prove to be a critical strategy for Guaranteed Shoe Company, especially if the company chooses to implement the enterprise resource planning system, the customer relationship management system, and the supply chain management system. These systems present considerable opportunities for the company to harvest consumer, supplier, and other data, process it, and use it to create real time and actionable strategic information that can be used to create competitive advantages. The company need to invest in technologies that would create value out of the wealth of data that it will collect from its customers, suppliers, and other business partners, to help in strategic decision-making.
According to Bradburry (2014), technology, including simple tools such as Microsoft Excel and Access can transform data into usable information that would make the difference between it and its competitors. This is even more important for organizations that have the infrastructure to collect data (including ERP and CRM systems). This goes to show that in order for Guaranteed Shoe company to reap the most benefits from the recommended technologies, it needs to create synergies from the implementation of multiple similar complementary technologies. With these technologies and the wealth of data that they can gather from differing contacts with customers and business partners, it is possible to develop business intelligence. Effectively, information technology will be rendered into a tool that does not only achieve efficiencies and improve customer satisfaction but perhaps most importantly, take a central role in strategy formation. Even most importantly, is the fact that business intelligence facilitates the innovation of products and services, which help achieve further client value. For instance, the company may decide to include clothing lines if it realizes that its customers desire to shop for both shoes and clothes. The fact that the information available to the firm may be unique to it means that the data can help it generate sustainable competitive advantages.
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