Four questions to ask potential retail ERP vendors

Acquiring and beginning to use a retail ERP system is a huge undertaking with potentially huge benefits. Start with questions for potential a vendor that reduces risk and enhances your chance for substantial gain.

1. “What can we do better?”

The vendors you contact have a lot more experience than you with retail ERP and the variety of businesses that use a system or ought to use one. Take advantage of that knowledge and experience. You have a list of questions that probably relates to how you can improve on what you already successfully do. Consider that there might be other ways you could adapt in your business that you might be unaware of. Coming from a potential retail ERP vendor the suggestion will likely be ERP-related, but it could be a completely different process they think you could improve upon.

Recommended reading: confused about what you need in your next ERP? Our no-nonsense ERP feature glossary can help.

2. “What other retail customers do you have that we can talk to?”

Now that you have the list, talk to those references. How long did it take to complete 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 ERP and consider various options before making a decision.

4. “How will this ERP help us make more money?”

The answers retail ERP vendors give to this question will depend on who’s asking. Each company’s circumstances will be different, but some common approaches 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. There are many guides to selection and implementation available online. The retail ERP you select is a tool you will hopefully use to change your business for the better - go beyond these general guidelines and ask potential vendors for some concrete facts.

author image
Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

author image
Tom Miller

Featured white papers

Related articles