I really think this could be a year of further overhaul to common working practices. A more settled overhaul, perhaps, but nonetheless a significant change to the way businesses operate will continue to occur in order to find out how best to approach this new normal we’ve found ourselves in. After the previous blog highlighted what the industry thought would take off, I just couldn’t help but think about the world of possibilities waiting for us this year in the ERP world.
Scan and go: Point of sales terminals were invented over 130 years ago. The electronic version, EPOS, maybe 40 years ago. 2021 will finally see more retailers allowing customers to simply enter the store, select their product, use an app to scan their own product and pay using stored credit cards or Apple/Google payment. Add to this the ability to query if the item is in stock in another size or store as well as providing the means to provide loyalty points and voucher features, and we have another watershed in the retail experience. Apple have led the way and supermarkets like M&S are following suit. Trust me, it’s here and it’ll grow this year.
Service: A few companies were already playing with the idea of self-ordering in restaurants (e.g. Wetherspoons) pre-lockdown, but the 2020 bar and restaurant experience saw a plethora of frankly poor apps being used to order food and help the servicer provide food and drink. 2021 will see these apps become better following the initial rush to ‘get something out’. There will be a move to fewer more widely used apps with a great and common experience for the user. It’s good for the customer, if done nicely, and good for the owner as staff costs are reduced. Just make sure you still provide excellent customer service and great food/drink though!
Don’t forget the backend: Whilst it’s an IT soft task to improve the front-end buying experience, companies who have ramped up their online experience will find the backend stuff needs to step up a gear too. Investment will be increased in 2021 to support the warehouse space both from a physical perspective but also the tech to help manage it. After all, it’s no good taking thousands of orders if you can’t ship them out quick enough.
QR: QR codes were invented in 1994! We in the IT world have been trying to find a use for them ever since! 2020 suddenly launched QR codes into the public consciousness with restaurant and NHS track posters showing a QR code to log your visit or point to an app download. 2021 will see a growing use of QR codes now that people know what they are. There will also be growing use of PWA (Progressive Web Apps) – a side prediction is that these will be even more popular in 2021 by the way! With these, you scan a QR code with your phone camera and go straight into an app experience, without an app being downloaded from a store. This is a great experience for the user: scan, do something and go. The uses now are infinite, and finally we have a problem for the long-ago created solution.
‘Let’s use Teams’: We have longed talked about why we don’t do more video conferencing. For a long time that required specialist equipment or otherwise ‘poor’ solutions. We are now a business community of accidental Video Conference-rs who have used video calls for a year. 2021 will see a move from ‘we HAVE to do a video call’ to ‘we CHOOSE to do a video call’. Even when lockdowns go, vaccines arrive and traffic starts to flow again, I predict that 2021 will be the time that the customer says, ‘no, don’t bother driving up here, let’s just do the meeting on Teams’. We have realised how much time we have wasted. We have now started sales processes, got to know people, closed deals and implemented systems, all from the comfort of the video group call. This won’t end after COVID. In just the same way 2021 will see employers choosing to have people work from home if they want to. 2021, and the future, will be the beneficiary of fewer miles, and that’s only a good thing! We noticed how well we did in 2020 in a previous blog, 'Mile-oh-My!'.
Of course, any changes, big or small, need technological support. Especially seeing as the online presence and operation of a business has never been more important. Have you reconsidered your ERP choice recently? TNP could help support the changes you wish to make in the friendly, personable manner we are known for. You only need to pick up the phone.
Read our first 'predictions' post, containing insights from industry experts and a few more familiar names!
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