If you work in wholesale distribution, then you know that you need all of the tools you can get to stay competitive in this constantly-evolving environment with its supply chain issues and rising costs. Today’s customers seek out wholesale distributors that make use of technology so that their warehouse management results in a smooth and efficient process and stellar customer service. If you don’t currently make use of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, here are some great reasons to look into how ERP for distributors can boost your business and reduce warehouse waste and expense.
What Are Distribution ERP Systems?
While many businesses use ERP systems in their day-to-day operations, distribution ERP is software that is specifically designed for the distribution business. In other words, it’s a solution built for inventory management and other distribution processes. This essential distribution software comes as an all-in-one solution, or sometimes it can be paired with your legacy accounting software, HR management suites, or CRM.
ERP software helps warehouse managers efficiently deal with order management, incoming sales orders, human resources, and other aspects of enterprise resource planning. It benefits all types of distributors, but many medium-size distributors find that this management system not only boosts their efficiency but also improves real-time customer service and other important business functions.
How to Choose Distribution ERP Software
Typically, when a distributor begins looking for a new ERP system for distribution management, it’s because their current one has some flaws. It may not link to their accounting software, or it may be too cumbersome to operate.
That’s why it’s important to carefully look at each option and choose the one that will work best for your distribution business. If you are thinking about purchasing an ERP system for your distribution center, here are some of the most useful features to look for.
Maintaining the proper amount of inventory is the lifeblood of your business, but it can be difficult and time-consuming to keep track of it without the use of technology. An ERP system designed for distributors will not only help you make better use of your time, but it will also eliminate the human errors that are inevitable with hand counts.
The automated inventory management tools that you’ll find in ERP systems allow warehouse managers to keep track of inventory in real-time, whether it’s at one location or across multiple warehouses. And that will allow you to know where your inventory is at all times and how much it costs. Plus, you will have accurate reorder data. Just think, no more inventory days where all of your employees are tied up counting inventory. With an ERP, it’s constantly counting inventory in the background as you tend to the other tasks that keep your business running.
If you’re like most warehouse managers, you often get frustrated because the data you have doesn’t always match with the accounting department’s numbers or with the other offices in the company. And that’s a problem because, without accurate data, you can’t make the best decisions about distribution management.
But distribution ERP software can make a difference. It provides a single source of information that you – and all the other employees – can trust. This will prevent incorrect, duplicate, or missing data from affecting the way you run your business. In other words, an ERP system provides real-time visibility into the business operations that you can use to make the decision that will grow your business.
Manually keeping up to date on prices is difficult in the steadiest environment, but today’s warehouse managers struggle to stay current on the price increases that seemingly happen by the hour. And that’s just one more feature you should look for in distribution ERP software.
Without understanding the accurate current pricing, it’s almost impossible to forecast demand or stay ahead of it. But when technology does the work for you, you will have the data you need to accurately plan for the future. Additionally, you can use the data to recognize cost variances and spot pricing patterns that could affect your business. And when you have a clear understanding of what things cost, you can reliably plan to allocate funds toward marketing, human resources, or other things that will help you operate and grow your business.
As a warehouse manager, you need to know what is happening with your products, suppliers, and stock; and it’s no different for the retailers that you serve. But just because you receive an email telling you that one of your suppliers is having an issue sourcing a product, that message doesn’t always get to the retailer in time. And when it doesn’t, it can hurt your reputation and the business relationships you’ve so carefully worked for.
But ERP software can help solve that problem. With instant notifications, your customers will be notified when an item is out of stock or a delivery milestone has been missed. For instance, if one of your trucks gets a flat tire and is running hours behind, your customers will be notified so they can make other arrangements if need be, or simply be notified of the issue. It allows you to act in partnership with your customers – something that will cause them to remain loyal to you in the years to come.
The instant notifications aren’t only for your customers, though. They can also help you plan and replace the product or make other arrangements. Used correctly, this aspect of distribution ERP can save your reputation, business relationships, and money!
Better Customer Service
No one stays in business long without excellent customer service, and that’s doubly true for distributors. Keeping your customers happy is the ultimate goal, and without the right technology, that’s becoming more and more difficult to do.
For instance, imagine trying to gain new business without the latest technology. Why would retailers do business with a warehouse that doesn’t keep up with the times? Customer satisfaction is key to a growing business, and technology can help you achieve that.
How? When using an ERP system, you can better fill orders, schedule and meet deliveries, and keep track of pricing and inventory so that you or your customers are never caught off-guard. And most ERP systems offer predictive analysis programs, so you can ensure you always have the products they consistently order.
Staying competitive in today’s world is key, but that can be difficult unless you have the tools that allow visibility and insight into your operations. After all, guessing at these things won’t help you grow your business.
That’s another key factor in selecting the right ERP system for your warehouse. The right software will provide that insight and allow you to better analyze your profitability and effectively organize your operations. When you can rely on accurate and organized data, you can use it to reduce costs and make your operation more efficient. For instance, when you are thinking about hiring a new picker, you can look at the real-time data to determine if your budget will allow for it.
No one looks forward to the implementation of a new software program, and that’s why you should look for one that is easy to implement. Some distribution ERPs are clunky and difficult to figure out –those are not the types you should consider.
Instead, look for an ERP system that is easy to onboard with help from the seller. Some providers will offer hands-on assistance and training when installing the new system, which makes the process much less scary. And when you have the one-on-one assistance of the provider, it’s easier to set up the system according to your unique needs and wants.
What are your plans for your distribution business? If you plan to continue to grow and expand your business, you need technology that will help you get there. Imagine trying to scale your business with rapidly rising overhead and labor costs without the help of data-driven technology.
To scale in today’s environment, you need all the help you can get, and a distribution ERP system is the boost you’ve been looking for. It will provide you with the accurate data you need, the tools to provide the best customer service, and the systems to allow you to concentrate on doing what you do best: growing your business.
Are You Ready to Take Your Distributorship to the Next Level?
Transitioning to a new software program can be scary, but at eoStar, we’ve made the process as easy as possible. Give us a call, and we will analyze your current system and make suggestions about how ours can make your business more productive and efficient. It’s a no-cost offer that just may take your business to the next level.
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