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How Technology Can Help Keep You Sane This Holiday Season

Guest Blog By Nick Sprau

By now, if you live in the northern region of the United States, you can feel the fall chill in the air. The lower the temperature drops, the more we anticipate the holiday season approaching. For retailers, this time of year often means hitting sales goals, moving more stock and an additional Advil at the end of the work-week for busy floor associates. As customers come barreling through mall hallways and into storefront doors, retailers should be armed and ready with the proper technology that will help their business have a successful holiday sales season.

The right technology can take a headache inducing period and turn it into one of precision, allowing proper forecasting for staffing, purchasing and additional operational decision making. I often advise our retail customers to invest in technology that will help eliminate unnecessary paper and repetitive processes. With technology like paperless document management the AP/AR department can manage disputes faster and in a more precise manner that eliminates redundancy and errors. Besides enabling a greener environment, paperless document management also drives down cost associated with mailing invoices and purchasing corresponding shipping material. As is common during the holidays, increased transactions mean the flow of invoices, purchase orders and supporting documentation accelerates. Retailers who are armed to handle the increase in paperwork using automation technology can avoid unnecessary headaches.

The success of this prime selling season relies heavily on the effectiveness of the internal financial process and the accounting department’s ability to handle the increased number of purchase orders and invoices through the season. Moving to the cloud has an amazing ability to cut costs, increase productivity and boost revenues, all at the same time. Now is the time for retailers to get smart about how they can integrate cloud solutions into their existing ecosystem. However, companies will not realize the full impact of cloud-based ERP without taking the first step and going paperless.

Retailers should also look to equip associates (where appropriate) with mobile technology enabling secure access to imperative information. For example, Microsoft recently made it possible for salespeople to collaborate and review data by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online with their iPads, accessing the solution through the Safari browser. In a similar way, mobile solutions for other ERP capabilities are rapidly evolving. A study by the Mint Jutras research and consulting firm found that 27 percent of 300 businesses surveyed considered access to ERP data on mobile devices to be a “must‐have” service, and 38 percent believe it is “important.” Both of these figures represent a substantial increase from the previous year, in which the respective figures were 19 and 28 percent. Microsoft Dynamics users can take advantage of mobile ERP access today by connecting with MetaViewer through a browser, via either their smartphone or their iPad browser.

Mobility‐enabled ERP cuts across time zones and marketplaces to allow executives to take advantage of any opportunity at any time. Complete customer data and accounting information reside at the executive’s fingertips, and action can be taken in just minutes or seconds. During a time like this, it is imperative that decision makers have the tools they need to make smart choices that will delivers the proper customer services and product in a way that will save time, money and generate repeat business.

By implementing the technology platforms of paperless document management, cloud solutions and mobile ERP, retailers have the opportunity to cushion their stocking with a little extra money this holiday season. Have you implemented a technology service or platform that has streamlined services for your company? Share your stories with us on Twitter, @Metaviewer.

Nick Sprau is vice president of marketing with Metafile Information Systems Inc. Sprau is responsible for developing and implementing Metafile’s international marketing strategy to support the organization’s wide array of document imaging, workflow and management products and services.

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