September 3, 2015
Distribution businesses have become increasingly complex with ample opportunities to serve many different customers globally. In the United States alone, wholesale/distributor sales equal approximately $3.2 trillion, which also accounts for roughly 7% of private industry GDP since 1987. The reason for such staggering numbers is partially because distribution spans many large market segments, ranging anywhere from grocery and food-service to furniture and home furnishings. Driving this growth are 3 factors that distributors are finding increasingly important:
(1) Investment in Technology:
Many distribution business owners are beginning to realize the importance of making data-driven business decisions. Unfortunately, many companies are currently stuck using older software systems which are not providing relevant information in a timely and effective manner. As a result, the focus has shifted to implementing truly integrated software that will tie the different facets of the business, (such as order taking to warehouse management to accounting) together. The result for companies who move in this direction is a system that provides real-time information across departments in a timely manner to facilitate effective decision making. For example, a salesperson on the road will need access to updated pricing, product availability, and customer information among many other pieces of information. This highlights the importance of a system that will provide information to all areas of an organization, be it in the warehouse or on the road at a customer’s location.
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May 20, 2015
As a small business owner it is inevitable that some of your time will be spent putting out fires, and dealing with issues as they arise on a daily basis. For wholesale distribution companies this may include: time spent searching through various systems and files to find information on specific orders, doing physical inventory counts to determine actual inventory volume and calculating different price levels for customers when vendors change their costs. Although the flexibility to do this is often seen as a benefit of being a small business, it is important to not let it get in the way of executing other projects and achieving your strategic goals. As a business owner, you should try to avoid becoming so overwhelmed dealing with everyday tasks, and putting out fires, that you’re unable to focus on the core success factors of your business. One solution is to begin looking for a more robust distribution ERP software system in order to streamline operations, automate processes and reduce the amount of time spent manually managing your business. Although this may be one of the most important reasons to upgrade your existing software, four more are outlined below.
- Your current systems lack integration with one another.
Lack of integration may include all or a few of your existing systems such as: accounting, CRM, inventory management and eCommerce. Although each of your existing software systems may work perfectly well independently of one another, as your company grows the issues that arise from lack of integration will start to become more and more obvious. Working with multiple disparate systems means that the same data must be entered several times, which can lead to keying errors and inconsistent information. In addition, if one system gets upgraded, this version may no longer be compatible with your other systems for managing simple tasks like importing and exporting data.
- Your current system is no longer supported, has reached its end of life, or is a sunset program and will no longer be developed.
Just as you have a business to grow and manage, so do software vendors, which means they may discontinue development on older systems in order to focus on more modern and lucrative software initiatives. Although this issue is unavoidable, it is important to be proactive in finding a new solution when this happens. With no support or further development, your system is more vulnerable to security threats and will no longer receive system patches. As with purchasing insurance, upgrading your software system is more beneficial when carried out pro-actively in order to protect your business from future issues.
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April 30, 2015
Omni-channel retailing is exactly as it sounds – a business model in which a company offers its products and services through multiple sales channels including: on-line, bricks and mortar, showrooms, trade-shows, mobile devices, print catalogues, etc. This model is becoming more popular with many industries, not just those who retail direct to consumer. Even traditional wholesale and distribution companies have started branching out to sell products on-line and in showrooms. Omni-channel retailing provides businesses the opportunity to reach new target markets and serve a larger group of customers. However, the addition of sales channels increases the complexity of a business, which can make it challenging to find a software system to manage all channels in one database. This is a where a fully integrated accounting and inventory ERP system comes into play. An all-in-one solution allows you to gain control and provides insight into all retail and wholesale orders coming from multiple channels. Although information gets stored in one database, users can still distinguish between type and source of orders. This eliminates the need to pull information from multiple systems when managing orders, and ensures you always have up-to-date inventory information. In order to accurately account for all sales channels when searching for new software, look for the following features:
Whether you have your own on-line store, sell through sites like Amazon and eBay, or both, it is important that your back-end software is properly integrated with all your eCommerce stores. Sophisticated two-way integration means data is shared from your back-end system to your on-line store fronts and vice versa in order to properly account for sales and inventory. Items purchased on-line get reflected in your back-end system for further processing and associated inventory gets allocated for picking. When receiving inventory this information gets entered once, into the back-end system, and pushed on-line. Two-way integration eliminates the need for double entry and ensures information across all systems is up-to-date.
B2B Online Order Portal
B2B eCommerce sites empower customers to place their own orders through a self-service type interface. Providing this sales channel allows for complete control over who purchases from your company through the use of a login. This option also caters to your customers’ specific needs and business hours without having to hire extra staff to manage this process internally.
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