As a web developer by trade, and a compulsive online shopper I am all too aware of the logistical problems of running an online store and brick and mortar store at the same time.

One of the solutions to this problem is an Enterprise Resource Planning system or ERP. This is typically a suite of tools that allow you to manage product purchases, service delivery, marketing, sales, inventory management, shipping and payment. Retailers will typically integrate this with a Point of Sale system, which handles the physical sale of goods. The combination of an ERP and POS can automate huge parts of a retail business as well as provide incredible amount of analytical data to improve the running of the business.

For example, I could have a physical store and an online store selling Jeans,

Openbravo, a company that started with its famous opensource ERP, is spearheading the developments within this industry. For companies on a budget that want to dip their toes into ERPs then this is a great solution as they have a community edition which is a totally free web-based ERP solution that can grow with your business, and then you can move onto the paid editions that offer more features and support.

Some of the great features of Openbravo include:

Multichannel Management – Provide a seamless shopping experience across retail channels including physical and online stores as well as other channels such as call centres. The system can fully integrate with existing e-commerce solutions such as Magento, and synchronise all your product and price data providing seamless integration between your physical and online store.

Merchandise Management – Manage all your products from pricing to characteristics such as colour and size.

Supply Chain Management – Running a successful store requires efficient stock management, and Openbravo can help you optimise that as much as possible with CRM-like functionality to handle supplier details, purchasing management and inventory management. You will no longer have to worry about running out of stock or over purchasing items again.

Reporting and Analytics – Extensive report and analytics can be used to analyse every aspect of the business identifying bestselling products, profit and loss, trends, and just about anything you can think of.

Web Point of Sale – Don’t be restricted to expensive POS hardware, Openbravo provide web and mobile POS to provide an enjoyable shopping experience in your physical stores. The web-based system is fully responsive, meaning you can use devices of all sizes and resolutions.

That might all sound quite boring, but even for small business it could save hundreds of hours of work, and potentially thousands in redundant stock. For example, if I owned a business selling jeans that operated both online and in-store I could have Openbravo manage everything from sales, to stock and ordering. Meaning if I sold out of something in-store it could update the online store to show low stock. It could then handle the re-ordering of them Jeans for me.

Each month I could then see the trends in sales and demographic data based on the medium of sale. So maybe there is a trend of larger gentlemen ordering Levi’s 508 Tapered Fit online whereas in store the Levi’s 511 Slim Fit are selling best, while the 504 regular fits are not selling well at all. In this case I would need to up my stock levels of 511s in store and have more 508s in stock in the warehouse, and reduce my order of 504s, and maybe do a reduction on them to clear up storage space for new stock.

Obviously all that is possible just looking at your sales manually, but when you are already managing staff, maybe multiple stores, and thousands of items of stock, this gets infinitely more complex quickly, and Openbravo can help fix that for you.