This evening I was at a major national electronics retailer to purchase a new television. I recently moved into a new place and needed a television sized appropriately for the room (and, my old television being plasma, something that would run cooler to save money on air conditioning.)

There was a very nice sales person – not too much pressure (and, being honest, didn’t know much about televisions) but there to help when I needed it. I had already done some research and really just needed to see a few models side-by-side to make a final decision. It probably didn’t take me more than thirty minutes to decide which television I wanted, at which point the sales person sprung into action.

All in all the sales transaction went very smoothly – quick inventory check to confirm stock and an offer of the extended warranty (which even after being offered the longer term for the shorter term price I declined.) The sales person proceeded to complete the transaction. I had already indicated I would need the television delivered since it wouldn’t fit in my car.

This is where I watched the most bizarre process take place. We’ve already typed everything into the computer. It’s all sitting there in the machine – my name, my address, my phone, my email, etc. So what does the sales person do? Yep, you guessed why I’m writing this, out came an official form pad. Here we are in 2015 in a fully computerized – send the receipt directly to your email world – and we are going to fill out a form…what could they possibly want to write on this form?

Well…how about the model number, my name, my address…you get the picture. The sales person proceeded to write by hand all of the information from the computer to a form – some how this form would eventually make it to the delivery drivers so they can retrieve the television from another store and bring it to my house on Thursday.

All I wanted to do was get the phone number of the CEO so I could call and ask what were they thinking? And show them a demo of how I would process that sales transaction in Dynamics CRM 2015 to automatically create a Delivery record in the system with no additional work or room for error!

That’s my quick story of a retailer just not getting it when it comes to automation…I’m sure they had the best of intentions but this retailer had made a critical mistake. They had put their front line sales and support staff into a backend system.

This is so common in retail that few people even think twice about it. The problem is that ERP systems are not designed for the type of rapid dynamic customizations you want to do on the point-of-sale/customer service side of the business.

The best option is to fully separate the two – ERP for the backend inventory/accounting/financials and CRM for the front-end sales/customer service/support. With a reasonable investment in quality middleware implementation you will have the ERP you need while remaining responsive to your customers – lower cost of sale, better information, fewer errors, and happier customers!