#2. A cloud-based, integrated platform for business agility

“If there’s a big shift or disruption in the market, your systems should not slow down your ability to adapt. They need to be agile. It’s really important to take as much complexity out of your IT environment as possible and have as little customization as possible.”

CFO, HSO customer, Garden and outdoor retail chain

In the midst of rapidly shifting market conditions with challenges ranging from surging inflation to over a million unfilled retail job openings5 and a potential recession, retail CFOs are under pressure to improve the pace of change.

Even before the pandemic, being agile has become increasingly important for CFOs, with 67 per cent in 2019 agreeing with the statement, “acting with agility is the new currency of business; if we’re too slow, we will be bankrupt.” 6

Retail agility can be a tall order. Many retail finance departments still use a patchwork of cumbersome tools and platforms that rely on manual data entry, paper receipts, and spreadsheets.

77 per cent of finance departments across industries rely on labour-intensive manual processes. Meanwhile, only 62 per cent use data analytics tools or platforms regularly to inform financial decisions.

By moving to a single, integrated platform that combines data across operations, retail CFOs can increase agility and automate processes so that their organizations can quickly adapt in a crisis.

Today’s advanced finance platforms are cloud-based and accessible by teams across the globe, providing the flexibility essential for distributed teams and locations. Retailers can enable home-working and even cut costs by relocating their finance departments to shared service centres.

Advanced cloud solutions natively integrate with a wide range of third-party applications, such as POS, e-commerce platforms, BI applications, and legacy ERP systems. Ingesting data from multiple systems, these solutions drastically reduce data entry and manual processes, which increases productivity for finance teams while decreasing errors.

Solutions can automate processes for POS and cash register transactions, online sales, purchase invoices, bank statement processing, incoming and outgoing money flows, VAT returns, and more.

Advanced platforms can even integrate with other solutions that automate entire supply chains, marketing, sales, and customer management.

6. “Why digital transformation always needs to start with customers first,” April 2020.