We could talk all day about the many, many benefits of cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

But rather than overwhelming you with details, let’s instead focus on seven biggest benefits that a cloud-based ERP system can bring to your online retail business.

These are the sort of things that’ll make such a huge difference that you’ll wonder how you ever got by without a cloud-based ERP.

So let’s explore what a cloud-based ERP system can bring to your online retail business:

1. Become More Productive Overnight

You and every single one of your employees can instantly access everything you need to do business, and you can do so on any device and from anywhere that has a secure internet connection.

Sales orders, stock control, customer relationships, and accounts – with a cloud-based ERP, all this, and more, can be accessed from anywhere.

This will make it much easier for you and your employees to perform your day to day tasks. You can streamline the running of your online retail business and become more productive overnight…or at least, as soon as you and your team learn your way around your new ERP. But these things are built to be user-friendly. You’ll be using the system like a pro in no time at all.

2. Vastly Reduce Your Running Costs

You’d struggle to run an online retail business without an ERP system. But before the cloud, ERP systems were significant investments.

Up until very recently, acquiring an ERP system involved multiple hidden costs. You needed the hardware to store the system on, and a dedicated technician to offer the ongoing maintenance necessary to keep things running. Both of these were expensive, to say the least. And that’s to say nothing of the amount of power required to run your own server.

But with cloud-based ERP solutions, everything is based offsite, so there’s no need to invest in your own hardware. What’s more, all the upgrades and maintenance is handled by trained specialists at no added cost, so there’s no need to hire and train your own IT team.

So the initial investment is considerably lower. But beyond this, the cost of investing in a cloud ERP solution can be broken down into easily-manageable monthly payments. And there’s no running costs to speak of – we don’t charge you for the power needed to run our servers!

3. Improved Security

In today’s connected world, your employees will want to work while on the go. With a cloud-based ERP system, your employees will never have to save spreadsheets, reports, and other sensitive documents to their devices.

Instead, they can access everything they need on secure portals and dashboards. So if their laptops or smartphones should ever go missing, there’s no need to worry about your sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

And when all of your online retail data is stored on an offsite server, it’ll be continuously monitored and automatically backed up. So if there should ever be an incident at your premises – say, a fire, or a flood, or a break-in – you can at least rest assured that your data will be safe.

4. Make the Decisions that Matter

When everything you need to do business is clearly visible in a single uncluttered and intuitive interface, you’ll find it much easier to make those big business decisions.

Whether it’s monitoring your top selling products in order to influence your product development, or analysing customer behaviour in order to identify new markets, a cloud-based ERP system will make your next steps clear, and give you the insights you need to proceed.

5. A Better Standard of Service

A cloud-based ERP system will automate your order processing.

The invoice manager function can process multiple orders at once, ensuring they all go through their required individual processes before they’re shipped to your customers.

This will improve your delivery estimations while maximising the number of orders that can be successfully processed in a single day. All of your customers will receive the same standard of service, and they’ll all receive their orders precisely when they expect to receive them.

The end result, of course, is more happy customers!

6. More Efficient Accounting

The bigger and more successful your online retail business becomes, the more of a headache accounting becomes.

But a cloud-based ERP system will ensure that your accounts are always accurate and up-to-date. You can monitor everything in real time, and process your VAT returns in a matter of seconds.

You can generate invoices, and create as many nominal accounts as you need to get the best possible understanding of your business’s finances.

So rather than becoming an intimidating mess of files, figures, and paperwork, your accounts will be transparent and accessible, no matter how big your business gets.

7. More Time & Resources

A cloud-based ERP system will dramatically reduce your overheads along with the amount of time and energy required to fulfil your most pressing processes.

So what are you going to do with all the time and resources you’ve suddenly got at your disposal?

Train your staff to deliver the best possible standards of customer service? Invest in some product development? Improve your online experience to make your service truly stand apart from your competitors?

The choice is yours. But the point is, all those things you want to do to grow your online retail business that you don’t think you have time for?

With a cloud-based ERP, be prepared to have a lot more time on your hands.

Nada Giuffridais a consultant for Digital PR Agency Hallam Internet. With over 20 years’ experience in B2B and B2C clients, Nada has a 360 degrees wealth of knowledge and expertise having worked for small, medium and large organisations. She is also a blogger for the Huffington Post Italy. You can tweet her at @NadaGiuffrida.