Which food distribution software do you need?

August 26, 2015

Food Distribution SoftwareOver the years we have had discussions with many companies in the food wholesale and distribution industry who were looking for software suitable for their business.  Most of these companies were looking for capabilities which are commonplace in many food distribution solutions including lot tracking/traceability, landed cost tracking, flexible pricing and multiple units of measure.

Although these features will fulfill the requirements of many in the food wholesale and distribution industry, depending on the specific activities and product mix of your business, there may be additional requirements.  The biggest differences amongst appropriate software solutions is when it comes to “catch weight” functionality.  Companies dealing with canned foods, frozen or dry goods can benefit from ERP software with food distribution specific features.  However, when speaking with food companies that deal with meat, fish, poultry, produce or dairy the term catch weight often becomes part of the discussion.

Catch Weight:

If used in your business, catch weight may be the key determinant in which software you choose.  Commonplace in businesses dealing with produce, meat, poultry and fish this term generally refers to the specific weight of a specific batch of product which is close to the average or standard weight used for that product.  For example you may sell a 16lb case of lamb chops, but depending on the actual cuts of meat in the case it may only weigh 15.7lbs or maybe 16.3lbs. You could have 20 – 16lb cases each with a different actual weight.  How will these be stored in your inventory?  Will you sell them each for the same price or will they be sold by their precise weight? Will you break open a case and sell by smaller weights? When it comes to catch weight functionality it is important to know your requirements, as this is only one version of catch weight and there are many others out there. A potential software provider may tell you that their system can deal with catch weight, but if they define it differently than you do, it may not meet your needs.  In order to avoid any confusion, make sure you have a clear understanding of your requirements and be as specific as possible when speaking with software vendors. If you do require catch weight functionality make sure that it becomes an integral part of your search, and don’t waste your time looking at software without it.

For those businesses dealing with canned, frozen and dry packaged goods, in which the weights and sizes will be standard each time, it is unlikely that you will require catch weight functionality.  This can potentially provide you with more software options to choose from with lower price tags.  In this situation an integrated ERP solution with specialized food distribution features such as the following is likely what you will need to run your business.

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Food Distribution Software: What to Look For

June 22, 2015

food-distribution-wholesale-softwareThis post outlines specific functionality that one should reasonably expect from Food Distribution Software.

The food distribution industry is very unique in a number of different ways. With numerous standards and regulations set by governing bodies in place, as well as an overall level of quality that must be upheld to customers, it is important to employ a software system designed specifically for food wholesalers and distributors. Most software packages have similar standard inventory and accounting functionality that users have come to expect in a true ERP software system. However, it is the additional food industry specific features such as lot tracking, landed cost tracking, multiple units of measure, and flexible pricing that make a system optimized for the food industry.

Key Features:

  • Lot Tracking
  • Landed Cost Tracking
  • Multiple Units of Measurement
  • Flexible Pricing

Lot Tracking

This facilitates robust product traceability functionality in order to keep records of which customers received specific groups of items or shipments. The supplier and the date that items were purchased are also referenced, allowing managers to track an individual group of products throughout the supply chain, ultimately from supplier to end customer. This functionality is especially important to food distributors as it is a key competency in achieving FDA/ISO/CFIA compliance. Many companies in the food distribution industry rely on lot tracking to track internal and external lot numbers, manage best before and expiry dates, as well as simplify product recalls and warnings in case of an emergency.

Landed Cost Tracking

Landed cost tracking allows a food distribution company to account for all the costs associated with getting inventory from a supplier to their warehouse. This allows a company to arrive at its ‘true inventory costs’, which may include duty, brokerage, freight, insurance, and storage, in addition to the cost of the inventory itself. Landed cost tracking provides important information to business owners and decision makers when making purchasing and pricing decisions, as well as aids in maintaining target gross margins by accounting for the total inventory cost, and not just a sub-section of it.

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Product Recalls and the Need for Pharmaceutical Distribution Software

February 25, 2015

product-recallsAs you can imagine, the pharmaceutical industry is characterized by many regulations and an abundance of meticulous standards that must be met by suppliers and distributors. As an increasing number of products enter the marketplace, the need for tight control measures becomes more prevalent in order to ensure public health and safety. The onus now lies with the suppliers and distributors to meet (perhaps exceed) the standards in place. However, despite these standards certain circumstances have arisen where products have needed to be recalled in the interest of public health. Some of the most prominent drug recalls in terms of scale and magnitude include:

(1) Fenfluramine/Phentermine (Fen-Phen) – developed by Wyeth-Ayerest Labs was recalled in 1997 after 24 years on the market. Fen-Phen was a popular weight loss drug taken by approximately 6.5 million people to help combat obesity. After many users began experiencing heart disease and other related illnesses, the FDA set a recall in motion. The result was roughly $14 billion in damages paid to victims.

(2) Cerivastatin (Baycol) – developed by Bayer and was prescribed to patients as a treatment for high cholesterol and was later linked to a severe muscle disorder. It was recalled in 2001, after roughly 4 years in the market. Damages paid to victims totaled roughly $1.2 billion. Read the rest of this entry »


4 Popular Features to Look for in Wholesale Inventory Software

October 1, 2014

wholesale inventory software

When your business decides to take the crucial step to invest in wholesale inventory software, it is imperative that you make a thoughtful and well-informed decision that satisfies your business’s specific needs. With an abundance of features and customizable options available, achieving this task can sometimes be overwhelming. Although no two companies are exactly the same, there are several popular features that add value to basic inventory software and allow companies to better manage all business operations. These include; landed cost tracking, barcode scanning, sales rep applications, and lot tracking.

Landed Cost Tracking

Landed cost refers to the total cost of an inventoried product, taking into account expenses incurred to collectively purchase, transport, and import goods. Costs accounted for include such items as border fees, duties, taxes, transport costs and insurance, to name a few. Software that effectively manages landed costs has the ability to automatically account for and reconcile the costs mentioned above in order to arrive at the true cost of the goods. This ultimately enables businesses to protect margins and make better purchasing and pricing decisions.

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Sometimes Accounting Inventory Software Bells and Whistles Can Wait

March 13, 2014

ERP Software Additional ComponentsAs with any large corporate investment, implementing new accounting and inventory ERP software is a time and resource consuming process.  Although this can be daunting when first starting the search process, the benefits gained from properly implementing an automated, all-in-one system, to manage all your business processes across departments will almost always outweigh the costs. For businesses moving from mostly manual processes or an introductory system, it can be exciting to learn about all the new advantages to be gained from the functionality and components offered by a more sophisticated system.  However, there are a lot of efficiencies to be gained right from the start when upgrading to a proper system even before adding in all the bells and whistles that come as additional components.  It may seem counterintuitive for a vendor to be down-selling the product, but there are various reasons why wanting to implement too many components from the get-go can be a bad idea.

Consider the Costs

Many ERP systems will provide functionality such as inventory, accounting, contact management, order entry and processing and warehouse management as part of their base offering. In most cases, additional components that are more unique to specific types of businesses can be added – but at an additional cost. These types of components include: barcode scanning, eCommerce integration, lot tracking, and landed cost tracking, and are not necessarily needed by every company.  Even companies who claim they need specific components such as sophisticated barcode scanning, may be able to benefit from a less expensive option.  This is why it is important to speak with vendors who will spend the time needed to learn about your business, in order to offer guidance on what components you could use, as opposed to vendors who try to upsell their product.  Fully evaluating which additional components your business actually needs, vs. wants, may dramatically impact the overall software cost.

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Lot Traceability in the Apparel and Textile Industry

November 13, 2013

Lot Tracking in the Apparel and Textile Industry

When people hear the term “lot traceability software”, most immediately think of it in terms of the food and pharmaceutical industries – and for good reason.  Take any bottle of ketchup or package of pills and you will find a lot number stamped on it, usually alongside the expiry date.  Within the food and pharmaceutical industry, lot traceability is not discretionary, but a required component due to the potentially dangerous nature of products in those industries.  It is required in order to meet ISO standards and remain in compliance with the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act and the CIFA’s Safe Food for Canadian’s Act.   However, what many people don’t realize is that lot traceability software can be valuable in other industries as well, and more specifically in the apparel and textile industry.

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Better Inventory Management

September 4, 2013

Better Inventory ManagementBusiness owners are constantly striving to improve inventory management in their warehouses – but how can they do this? The answer is of course dependent on the company as well as specific problems, but in general, businesses trying to solve inventory problems will typically choose one of 3 approaches; hire additional staff, invest in a proper inventory management system or evaluate and change internal processes.  Each option has its pros and cons, however eventually any growing business will reach a point where the only way to improve inventory management is to invest in a proper, robust inventory management system. To get the most out of  such a system, consider investing in software with the following functionality:

Landed Cost Tracking

Landed cost is the total cost of an inventoried product, and takes into account expenses incurred to purchase, transport, and import goods from one place to another, within a country or across continents. This includes border fees, duties, taxes, transport costs, insurance, trans-loading and port handling fees among others.  Proper landed cost tracking software will automatically account for and reconcile these costs in order to arrive at the true cost of the purchased item.  This in turn will allow a business to protect margins and make better purchasing and pricing decisions.

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