1. “What can we do better?”
Chances are you're not the only client your Enterprise Resource Planning vendor has ever worked with. And it's more likely than not that some of their other clients are along the same line of work. Take advantage of that knowledge and experience. Consider asking them if there are any ways you could adapt your business that you might not be aware of. Since this suggestion would be coming from a potential retail ERP vendor it will likely be ERP-related, and a completely different process than what you would normally think up.
2. “What other retail customers do you have that we can talk to?”
There's nothing wrong with doing your research and a good and respectable business partner should absolutely agree. Ask those references how long it took to complete the implementation? How much longer still to begin realizing benefits? What expectations did you have that remain unfulfilled? What did you do right during the implementation process? What would you do differently? Did you get what you wanted from the vendor? What else would you have wished for from the vendor? Continue asking and researching for retail customers who were not on the reference list and contact them too. They could have gained some negative experiences that will help in your decision.
3. “What integration can I expect from this ERP system?”
“Our supply needs need almost daily updating. Can we link point of sale data to our suppliers and distribution centers?”
Big international retailers do this and gain an advantage. Of course, your answer is ‘yes’...but consider how much will it cost and how long will it take. Think about the practicalities of integrating other software with your retail Enterprise Resource Planning operation and consider various options before making a decision.
4. “How will this ERP help us make more money?”
So maybe you should ask this exact question BUT there are much more specific questions that will follow along the same line. The answers, of course, will depend on who’s asking as each company’s circumstances will be different.
Similar questions to ask may include:
What costs will the retail ERP help me reduce or defer?
What process improvements will become practical when we have your powerful tool to help us?
How can we serve our customers better to increase their satisfaction and possibly buy more or be willing to pay a higher price?
What module and what do I have to do to actually use the data so it becomes valuable information? Beyond the implementation phase, how will you be available to help us make more money?
Every business will have their own list of questions and there are many guides to selection and implementation available online. But it's important to remember that the retail ERP you select is a tool you will hopefully use to change your business for the better. So go beyond these general guidelines and ask potential vendors for some concrete facts. It'll only build a stronger and more healthy relationship in the end.
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