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Efficient All Hours – ERP for the retail industry

In our TV-themed look at ERP for various sectors, so far having featured the construction and professional services industries, how could we not address the fact that we’ve reached the time when Christmas specials of our favourite shows rear their festive heads?

Since it’s the season of giving and, in particular, a whole lot of buying, I thought it made sense to look at how ERP can improve efficiency for retail businesses. It also gave me an opportunity to revisit a classic 70s and 80s sitcom that made a recent return to our screens; Open All Hours.

Christmas 2015 sees the seasonal special of Still Open All Hours on TV, but I thought I’d go back to the original version and explore why its three main characters each share some of ERP’s traits when it comes to the world of retail.

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Ronnie Barker’s genius creation of the miserly grocery store owner Arkwright may seem to be born too much of a bygone era. But, while I doubt that he’d have forked out on ERP software, some of his characteristics aren’t too dissimilar to Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

For one, he was nothing if not profit-driven. Taking a ‘flexible’ approach to pricing, Arkwright would change his prices based on what he thought he could get away with. While an ERP system is just as concerned about profitability, as a centralised system it can give everyone access to the same information at the same time, wherever they are, managing pricing a bit more consistently than Arkwright.

He also ensured that he was aware of every move his much-put-upon assistant, Granville, made. While Arkwright’s approach wouldn’t really sit well with a modern workplace, the ability to improve visibility, in a less controlling fashion, is vital.

An integrated ERP solution will allow you to access information about everything from your inventory and financials to customer tracking. With a broader understanding of reporting at every level of the business you can build a clearer view of where improvements can be made, allowing you to make more effective decisions. Much more successful than the clip around the ear that Granville tended to get.


The son of Arkwright’s sister, and constantly teased about his possibly-Hungarian father, Granville may have been the butt of Arkwright’s jokes but he certainly had aspirations. Even if they weren’t being met in the small corner shop.

He always strived to offer exceptional customer service (especially to the woman who delivered their milk!). ERP software also recognises that a positive customer experience is the foundation of a successful retail business. By fully integrating your ERP solution with in-store and online systems you can communicate consistently and regularly with customers, giving them precisely what they need, when they need it.

The bane of Granville’s life was the violent shop till, ever-ready to chop off unwary fingers! A fully-integrated ERP system could have solved this for him, especially with a modern Point of Sale system. Software like Microsoft Dynamics NAV can link directly to POS, keeping you on top of the latest reports from every aspect of the business, including stock levels, store profitability and buying trends. With access to the latest data, Granville would have been better placed to make effective decisions and move the business forward, planning for growth and maximising efficiency for the future of Arkwright’s.

Nurse Gladys Emmanuel

The object of Arkwright’s affections, Nurse Gladys Emmanuel was the ample-bosomed health professional who was a voice of reason in the manic lives of Arkwright and Granville. Pragmatic and taking no nonsense, she provided much-needed support, whilst avoiding the advances of the frustrated store-owner.

Much like Nurse Gladys, ERP software can provide a strong foundation recording the status of your stock in real-time and automating your order processes, basically keeping the business in line. Stock can be replenished automatically whenever it runs low, which reduced inventory levels, minimises wastage and decreases inefficiency.

Using software that combines Arkwright’s thrifty cost-efficiency, Granville’s aspirations for growth and Nurse Gladys’ forthright management style, you’ll benefit from:

  • Gaining insight into financial records, stock levels, store profitability and buying trends
  • Increasing efficiency with direct integration of POS, inventory, financials and customer tracking
  • The ability to automatically replenish stock through automated ordering, based on real-time stock status
  • Increased customer service, giving your staff access to the information they need
  • Managing all pricing for website and store items centrally at head office
  • Improved communication with customers across all channels, in store and online
  • Giving everyone access to a single source of information

An ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV allows retailers to cut costs and increase margins, streamline financials, report more accurately, identify and understand trends, and take control of their business. With all of this at your disposal, you’ll be efficient every hour of the day.

Written by Mark Blackmore, Head of Telemarketing at ERP Central, part of the QBS Group