Route Accounting Solutions

17 Top Beverage Warehouse Picking Best Practices

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Warehouse managers spend a lot of time on the inbound and outbound aspects of warehouse management, but studies show that the order picking process generally accounts for over half of warehouse operating costs[Ma1] . To help you save time, we’ve put together a list of 17 warehouse picking best practices that will allow your warehouse workers to pick orders more efficiently.

Why Using Warehouse Picking Best Practices Makes Sense

Warehouse picking requires intensive labor and expense, which is why pick operations are always on the list of improvements for distributors. When warehouse picking systems are optimized, it reduces costs and adds to customer satisfaction.  

Generally, warehouse orders are filled by giving pick lists to an order selector. The selector then travels to areas where the items are housed, picking items as they find them, extracting them, and then matching them with the paperwork. When done without an inventory management system, human error can add more time, expense, and frustration to the process.

Of the steps in the warehouse order picking process, traveling accounts for 55% of the selector’s time. Clearly, if the selector has an understanding of where the products are, how many of them are sitting on the shelves, and how many they need, it would make picking and packing much easier.  

And that’s where our warehouse picking best practices come in. Here are 17 tips to help you optimize your picking method.

Increase Efficiency With These Warehouse Picking Best Practices Tips

Not every supply chain distributor will utilize the same picking methods, and there are many processes, methods, and even tools to help optimize the process. Depending on your warehouse setup and design, you may currently use one of these picking systems:

  • Individual order picking, picker-to-part, or piece picking is used by smaller distributors. With this method, the selector picks the entire order and adds them to a container or shipping pallet.
  • Wave picking is for those distributors that pick and pack orders with multiple items and a varying number of SKUs. This method is conducted in waves, picking all zones at the same time.
  • Batch picking happens when selectors pick for multiple orders in one trip. They pick like items or items that are located in similar areas on each trip.
  • Zone picking is often used with batch picking and many distributors with large warehouses use this method. Selectors are assigned to a certain zone in the warehouse, and once they’ve picked all the orders, they pass them on to be packed.

No matter which picking method you use, chances are you can increase your efficiency and reduce operating costs with some changes to your system. Here are some of our favorite picking best practices tips:

  1. Create a zone that is stocked with all of your fast-moving products. This is called a fast-pick zone or an order-completion zone. It will allow your selectors to work faster and smarter—and reduce traveling and picking time if most of the orders can be filled from this zone.
  2. Where you put your fast-picking zone is important, too. Warehouses that locate this zone close to the shipping area save even more time than those that locate the area far away from it.
  3. Establish goals and a tracking system that helps reduce stock-outs and items that are not in their proper location. This will reduce traveling time for the selectors and increase productivity.
  4. Using warehouse management software to create batch orders for single-line orders will greatly increase productivity because it cuts down on travel time. A selector will be able to travel the same distance while picking multiple items for a batch of orders.
  5. Transition to hands free technology that allows your selectors to use their hands for picking, not scanning or looking up the next location. Today’s technology uses voice-directed or pick-to-light that will decrease pick time and save you money.
  6. Improve your inventory management, which helps selectors do their job more efficiently, by foregoing the annual physical inventory count and instead using cycle counting. With this system, you will routinely count small groups of inventory which will help you catch discrepancies, reduce leakage, and increase the accuracy of your inventory.
  7. Evaluate your inventory slotting regularly. While re-slotting the pick faces in your warehouse takes a lot of time, the benefits you get from doing it quarterly rather than yearly can save you time and money in the long run.
  8. Store SKUs separately. When you mix SKUs in the same bin it results in more floor time for the selector. That’s because the selector will be directed to a location, but because multiple SKUs are stored there, they will have to locate the product on the ticket. Studies have shown that this increases the pick time by 15 seconds per instance, which can add up during a day.
  9. If you are forced to pick vertically because of space limitations, be sure the store the fastest-moving items at ground level to increase the speed. Store the slower-moving items higher up because they aren’t picked as often.
  10. Set up hit density areas in the warehouse to increase productivity. For instance, if selectors pick from 50 areas, they will be much slower than if they only had 10 locations to pick from. You can categorize the zones according to their usage. Locate all of the high pick areas together to save even more time.
  11. Create a system where the items are only touched one time by the selectors. Once the item is picked, it should be loaded onto the shipping container having only been touched by the selector. This will reduce human error during the process.
  12. A simple way to speed up your picking times is to make sure that your shelves, bays, slots, and aisles are clearly marked with location signs.
  13. Use your warehouse management system to scan each item into its location. That way, the selector will always find the item right where it’s supposed to be.
  14. Wrong orders cost time and money, but you can reduce or eliminate them if you use barcode scanning when picking every item. To double down on this system, scan the items again at the dispatch point to ensure each item matches the shipping label. But, be sure the pallet SKU isn’t scanned in place of the product SKU at the dispatch area—otherwise, they won’t catch the mis-pick.
  15. Use a warehouse management system to prioritize your orders. When the last order is consistently picked first, it can cause delivery delays and unhappy customers.
  16. You need to understand the movements of your selectors to formulate a plan to increase productivity. And unless you use a warehouse management system to track their activities, you will have to guess who is productive and who isn’t.
  17. Finally, you can get your employees on the improvement bandwagon by posting the real-time progress of each selector. If you really want to stoke a competitive environment, post the errors and picking rates. And if you sense a lack of motivation among the selectors, offer a bonus each week or month to the person with the best stats. Your warehouse management system can easily generate those numbers for you.

Plan to Succeed When Establishing Best Practices

Before you implement any new best practices for your warehouse, it’s important to first establish some benchmarks. Only after you benchmark your current performance can you understand what goals you need to focus on.

And then after you know where you need to improve, you can use best practices to reach your new goals. And don’t forget the role of warehouse management software, one that seamlessly integrates with your sales and delivery solutions. A great WMS can help you efficiently operate you warehouse and manage your product flow.


Route Accounting Solutions

Why Should You Use a Load Order Optimization Tool?

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Local distributors have to do one thing and do it well: Get a retailers order to their location on time and undamaged. And the savviest of distributors use a specific tool to help them do the job right – a load order optimization tool. If you’re not familiar with this tool and how it can help you decrease costs and increase efficiency, read on.

TORONTO, ON – JUNE 17 – A pallet of empty bottles begins the refilling process on the depalletizer conveyer at Molson Breweries. The depalletizer removes the cases of empty bottles one row at a time and is the first stage of the refilling process. The Star followed this pallet of bottles from a Beer Store in Brampton that were recycled and back on the shelves at another Beer Store on the same day. June 17, 2013. Randy Risling/Toronto Star

What Are Load Optimization Tools?

When you’re loading a truck, you want load pallets that are stable, and place them appropriately on the truck to ensure cargo space is maximized, weight distribution is appropriate and it will simplify the driver’s job at time of delivery. A good load optimization tool will do all of that – and more.  Here are some of the ways these tools can help to ensure your trucks are loaded as safely and efficiently as possible.

Pre-Load Logistics

Once an order has been submitted by a salesperson, that order is sent to a load screen so technicians can confirm that it’s in stock and get a pallet ready to load. Our Orders to Load system takes the guesswork out of the process and ensures that after the order is committed, the remaining processes goes smoothly.

Pallet Planning

Building a pallet takes time and effort to ensure that you use the space most efficiently. But a load optimization tool, such as Palletization by eoStar, does the work for you. It helps you pre-plan the pallets and load build so everything is organized and stable before the loading begins. The beauty of this program is that once you set it up for a specific product and customer, you won’t have to do it again. It is truly a set-it-and-forget-it system.

Load Planning

Once your pallets are stacked, a load optimization tool will help you load the truck in a way that makes the best use of the cargo area. The tool will also ensure that the cargo is evenly distributed and in the order of delivery sequence. You will have access to graphs and charts that show you where every container is located. Load order errors will tell you if the bay and/or truck capacity is exceeded or if the balance is off.

Is Palletization Customizable?

Every local distributor works with those clients who demand that specific pallets are used or have other requirements that won’t work with a one-size-fits-all type of software. Luckily, our load optimization tools take all of that into consideration.

Here are some of the ways the tools offer customization:

Pallet Variety

Chances are when you load a cargo area, you will have more than one size pallet. The Palletization Tool takes that into consideration and supports multiple sizes. That means you can simply match the product sizes with the pallet size of your choice and let the software do the hard work.

Customer-Driven Sizes

When setting up a lot of pallets for one customer, you can choose to assign it a default pallet size. That way, every time you load pallets for that manufacturer, the system will automatically use that pallet size when configuring the pallet load.

Bulk or Aggregate

You can use the software for bulk or aggregate loads. Bulk loads will assign items from an order onto one or more pallets and will be sorted by pick sequence. Aggregate loads will contain products from a number of orders and will be organized based on pick groups. These pallets will also be sorted by pick sequence.

Manual Override

If there is a special requirement to the load, you can always override the bay-by-bay assignments and customize them to your needs at that time.

Load Optimization Tools Help You Work Smarter

You know the saying: Work smarter, not harder. These tools will help you reduce damage in your shipments by ensuring that the loads are stable. They can also help increase your efficiency with palletizing patterns and load planning capabilities at the push of a button.

If your goal is making loading pallets simpler, having a load plan that helps maximize cargo space, and easier loading according to delivery sequence—all with customization options, eoStar is your answer. 

Route Accounting Solutions

What Is Dunnage and How Can You Prevent Its Loss?

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Beverage Industry Dunnage And Types?

When looking for a dunnage definition, it depends on what industry you serve and whether you want shock absorption, the restraining of loose material, or you need plastic bracing. For instance, the dunnage materials you would use to protect a fragile item, such as bubble wrap, Kraft paper, and air pillows, won’t necessarily be used in the beverage industry. Some types of dunnage utilized within the beverage industry include plastic or wood pallets, hard cartons and empty kegs.

Back in 2014 when MillerCoors, now Molson Coors, decided to stop using disposable dunnage such as corrugated paper and began loading its products onto reusable dunnage, it saw a cost savings of $8 million a year. But since then, we’ve learned that switching to reusable dunnage is only part of the story. By transitioning to an electronic management process, you can ensure that all the dunnage you ship is tracked and returned.

Lost Dunnage Equals Fewer Profits

As a local distributor, you know all too well how costly it is when you have to call a manufacturer and report that their floor dunnage or other packing components are lost or are held at the store. It’s your responsibility to prevent damage to dunnage, to protect and follow its movement, and to make sure it gets back to the warehouse. If all of these things don’t happen, it negatively affects your bottom line.

What’s the Answer to Lost Dunnage?

Custom dunnage solutions, such as retail tracking, can take away the burden of manual tracking by automating the system. In a word: Dunnage retail tracking is a solution that not only saves you money by ensuring the dunnage is tracked and returned, but it can save in other ways, too.

Ensure you are tracking dunnage for the duration of its life cycle from the time you receive it from a supplier until the time you return it to the supplier.  This means your system will need to also be aware of what dunnage is used in the fulfillment process, meaning deliveries that you are sending to retail.  At any point in time, you should know what dunnage a retail account has so that you can actively manage the account to ensure its timely return to your warehouse.

At eoStar, we understand the value of the dunnage in your possession and how it can affect your bottom line.  Our fully integrated warehouse and mobile sales and delivery solutions provide you the ability to track dunnage throughout its lifecycle in your warehouse and its time at retail through our underload tracking functionality. 

Stop Profit Loss With the Right Dunnage Retail Tracking System

It doesn’t matter if your freight is being loaded onto cargo ships or driven just down the road, the dunnage it carries must be returned or you will be out-of-pocket. And today’s manufacturers have come to expect that local distributors have taken the steps to protect their assets.

Sure, you could outsource the procedure, but the cost of the service may eat up the savings you get from tracking and retrieving all of that dunnage. Instead, why not use in-house software that was designed specifically to help distributors like you maneuver the process yourself and keep the extra profit to grow your business? Be sure to connect with our sales team to discuss how to save on dunnage.

Route Accounting Solutions

E-Commerce Benefits Both Customers and Distributors

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In the past, distributors were slow to adopt e-commerce platforms because the existing methods of selling had always worked, with sellers going to customer locations. When distributors did choose to adopt e-commerce platforms, it was largely out of necessity, as a cost- and time-saving measure to avoid having to send sellers out to distant customer locations. The decision to adopt these e-commerce platforms was not strategic, and the platforms themselves were not particularly user-friendly, as they were lacking a lot of the information that customers would want to see and they were often hard to navigate.

Now the expectation from customers is that distributors will offer an e-commerce platform for ordering. Customers want the convenience of placing orders when it’s convenient for them and from any location and device. They expect seamless navigation and the ability to see their sales data, all of the products they can buy in easily searchable fields, and the promotions that are available to them, so that they can make the best buying decisions for their businesses.

Of course, the benefits of this move to e-commerce platforms isn’t just for the customers. Distributors can have their sellers focus more on strategic goals. Rather than acting simply as order takers who go to customer locations, they can focus on selling product. Sellers can work as partners with customers, coming up with the right strategic product mixes that enable these customers to sell more high value products, enabling a win-win situation for both the distributor and the customer. As your customers look for more order options, be sure to be ahead of their demands Talk to our sales team to find out how eoMarket can help you.

Route Accounting Solutions

How To Stay Competitive in the Digital Age

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At eoStar, we have witnessed a shift in the digital commerce space and recognize the need for a competitive e-commerce platform. We understand that you’ve made a promise to your customers to support their growth efforts. This is a hefty promise to keep while managing your own set of challenges; increasing competition, thin margins, and the demand for lower prices.

What solutions are you offering to increase your customers’ sales, improve margins on product sold, shape the shopper experience, and build shopper loyalty while planning for the unexpected?

Understand That Business Practices Are Evolving

A younger generation of shoppers is entering the marketplace, and for these younger buyers who were raised on the internet, e-commerce is now the expectation. Customers want to access product information twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere. They need the ability to find items anytime, whether it be after closing time, or when they first enter the office.

Be On the Forefront of Change

You need a business partner to help drive the changes in the industry and help keep you competitive to meet these expectations, rather than someone who merely follows what others have done. At eoStar, we’re listening to your requests and concerns in order to act as a key strategic partner in moving your business forward. With us, you’ll be at the head of progressive developments in e-commerce and distribution.

Put Your Data into Action

Better data means better business.  Our advances in data analytics will help you anticipate your retailers’ needs and identify buying patterns, leading to an increase in customer sales. With eoStar’s business intelligence models, predicting sales and recommended products will be simple for your customers.

The Bottom Line

Before you can successfully establish a competitive advantage, you must first know your customers and what they expect.  The fact is that buying habits have shifted, and you need a partner to help you stay ahead of the curve.  The online shopping experience is not just a standard; it is an expectation. eoStar will help you meet and manage the demands of your customers by helping keep their shelves stocked, all while optimizing spending on trade promotion. Book a demo with one of our sales specialists, here.

Route Accounting Solutions

Add flexibility to simplify ordering with an ecommerce sales tool.

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In the past, distributors were slow to adopt e-commerce platforms because the existing methods of selling had always worked, with sellers going to customer locations. When distributors did choose to adopt e-commerce platforms, it was largely out of necessity, as a cost- and time-saving measure to avoid having to send sellers out to distant customer locations. The decision to adopt these e-commerce platforms was not strategic, and the platforms themselves were not particularly user-friendly, as they were lacking a lot of the information that customers would want to see and they were often hard to navigate.

Now the expectation from customers is distributors need to offer an e-commerce platform for ordering. Customers want the ability to placing orders when it’s convenient for them and from any location and device. They expect seamless navigation and the ability to see their sales data, all of the products they can buy in easily searchable fields, and the promotions that are available to them, so that they can make the best buying decisions for their businesses.
Of course, the benefits of moving to an to e-commerce platforms isn’t just for the customers. Distributors can have their sellers focus more on strategic goals. Rather than acting simply as order takers who go to customer locations, they can focus on selling product. Sellers can work as partners with customers, coming up with the right strategic product mixes that enable these customers to sell more high value products, enabling a win-win situation for both the distributor and the customer.

eoMarket provides a seamless sales experience for your customers and keeps your sellers free to upsell and recommend products. Customers will love the freedom to order what they need, when they want it, and prepare for events based on their own schedules. With sellers not having to add an additional stop or call, you save time and money and give your sellers the freedom to provide a higher level of service. Be sure to talk with one of our sales experts to discuss eoMarket and how it can benefit you.

Route Accounting Solutions

How to Keep Up With Trends and Beverage Distribution Software

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When you work with beverage distribution software, you keep a close eye on the market. New companies with strong marketing teams emerge all the time, and old favorites stay strong with different demographics. The beverage market also has a strong seasonal component, with different drinks selling better at different times of year. 

With all these changes, are you using your beverage distribution software to keep up with the trends? Tracking beverage trends, both in your own company and with the market as a whole, can help you stay on top of the market and keep up with demand. 

Business Intelligence and Forecasting for Beverage Distribution Software 

First, consider a beverage distribution software with business intelligence and forecasting capabilities. You can accomplish all kinds of tasks with the right business intelligence software. For instance, you can analyze the value of a potential retailer to decide whether or not you want to pursue that retailer. You can pick the best location sites and make quality placements based on those sites. 

Meanwhile, forecasting software can work with business intelligence software to help you make inventory decisions. You can predict which items you’ll need to restock based on purchasing trends. 

Both forecasting and business intelligence software can help you keep an eye on local beverage trends and trends within your own company. The more information you have in these areas, the better decisions you can make. 

Use Route Accounting Software to Track Data Beyond Your Warehouse 

Beverage distribution software isn’t just for warehousing. You can also find a software with route accounting capabilities. Route accounting lets you track things like sales and inventory in real time. You’ll receive updates as they happen, even beyond the walls of your business. Route accounting also lets you track your sales history, suppliers, and promotions, which is essential to running an effective beverage distribution company. 

Route accounting software, just like business intelligence and forecasting, can show you how certain beverage distribution trends apply to your own company. You’ll gain insight on things like seasonal changes, regional beverage popularity, and more. 

Use Analytics to Track Your Own Data 

Similarly, business analytics can show you whether or not you’re responding to market trends effectively. All businesses produce usable data, but few businesses take advantage of that data. If your beverage distribution software comes with data analytics capabilities, then you can make your data work for you. Additionally, you can hire a data analytics provider to handle your data for you. Some software providers also offer data analytics services. 

What do these services do with this data? They gather it into one place and then turn it into simple, usable insights. For example, they might find that your sales change with certain weather patterns, or they may find that some products appeal to specific age groups. Once you have that information, you can turn it into action. You might adjust your marketing plans, for example, or make changes to your inventory. 

Add Mobility to Your Beverage Distribution Software 

If you add mobility to your beverage distribution software, you can keep up with market trends even when you’re not at the office. Merchandiser software can help you track sales opportunities based on current market trends. You can also use mobile surveys to get better insights into these trends. Mobile software can help you track changes in real time, and it can help you better understand the reasons behind the trends. Once you have those insights, you can measure your company’s performance against these market changes, and you can keep your business flexible so that you always respond appropriately. 

The Right Software Gives You More Time to Pay Attention 

You need the right tools to keep up with beverage distribution trends, but you also need the time to monitor those trends. Finding time isn’t always easy, which is why the best beverage distribution software is the kind of software that helps you save time. The more efficient your software, the more time you’ll have to keep an eye on the beverage market. 

It’s all a matter of finding the right tools. For example, you might use a voice-based workflow to keep your warehouses efficient. This way, you can save time by increasing your pick rate accuracy. You can also use palletization to reduce breakage, which means that you’ll spend less time replacing lost inventory. E-commerce software can help you save time, too, by letting you make quick inventory changes and view orders quickly. 

With the right tools, you can win back some of the time that you didn’t have before, which will let you stay on top of market trends. Having the right beverage distribution software can make a big difference to business owners. The better you understand trends in the beverage market, the more confidence you’ll have in your business decisions. 

Want a software that can help you keep your eye on the market? eoStar is here to help. eoStar software provides several solutions, including the ones listed above, to help business owners keep up with beverage distribution trends. Get in touch with us today for more information. 

Route Accounting Solutions

How Forecasting Software Can Help You

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As we get further along in the year, consumer behavior will change as do the seasons. Each season tends to create a variety of demands across different sectors as it relates to what consumers are seeking with the new weather. On top of the changing seasons, we are also still dealing with the effects of COVID-19. More people are going to want to experience the outdoors as the weather heads towards summer heat, yet there are still concerns about the effects created from the pandemic. 

Given the two significant factors that may affect the supply chain, forecasting software is necessary for any business and warehouse that wants to continue operations and have a positive profit going into the next quarter. 

Forecasting software can allow an enterprise to plan logistics, finances, and workload for future business activities. This software draws on previous data and results to draw possibilities of future results. The paths that are created can be analyzed by management, and the best or optimal route can be chosen.

Here’s a look at the more detailed aspects and benefits of forecasting software. 

Cost Savings

One of the main benefits of forecasting software is its ability to prevent needless spending or investment. Through gauging proper supply levels, warehouses can avoid spending excessive amounts on inventory that may not meet the same level of demand. This will also save on costs when less space is taken up by inventory that is not moving anywhere. With more space free, the warehouse can use it for other inventory that may have different demand thresholds. 

Forecasting software allows warehouses to create inventory levels that provide the right amount of inventory at the right time. In order for this to happen, the software uses different types of forecasting.

Qualitative and Quantitative Forecasting

Qualitative and quantitative forecasting are two different methods in which forecasting software can help warehouses keep proper inventory levels. 

Qualitative forecasting occurs when there is a lack of raw data. This can be the case when a business is new and may not have months or years of historical data from which to draw upon. It may also be useful as a forecasting tool when significant challenges impact the supply chain; a perfect example is the effect of COVID-19. 

In order to perform qualitative forecasting, data collection is done to discover consumer opinion and sentiment. This forecasting draws upon focus groups, consumer surveys, and market research. The collection of qualitative data allows forecasting software to develop possible demand forecasts based on consumer opinion. 

Quantitative forecasting is the opposite of qualitative forecasting. This technique involves drawing on raw data and numbers to perform inventory forecasting. This approach can be more accurate and precise than qualitative forecasting. However, the challenge it faces is that it cannot incorporate present data from significant events such as COVID-19. Quantitative data will draw on historical numbers to discover trend lines over time that impact with different time periods. 

For example, quantitative data in an established warehouse can determine that X number of sleds are sold at the beginning of the winter season. The software can make a note that throughout however many years the warehouse has been operational, they have never shipped above a certain amount of sleds. The management team can use this quantitative data to determine how many sleds they will have in their inventory for the upcoming winter seasons.

Combined, qualitative and quantitative forecasting can provide substantial insights into the future financial and inventory planning for any warehouse. 

Back-end Optimization

Forecasting software allows warehouses to reduce the amount of manual labor necessary for continuing operations. Determining inventory levels related to supply and demand can become more automated with forecasting software. Increased automation reduces the chance of human error, which is always a possibility when labor is performed manually. 

As a result of reducing the likelihood of error, the management of the supply and production cycle will be more efficient. 

Additionally, with more manual labor being refocused in different areas where automation is not available, work productivity will increase. This will ultimately lead to a more efficient enterprise with fewer errors and increased productivity. 

Customer Satisfaction

Inventory forecasting can improve customer satisfaction because it increases the efficiency and productivity of the warehouse. Customers are less likely to encounter “out of stock” messages when browsing for goods. 

Additionally, good forecasting software can improve response speed and shipping times. Due to the process being more automated and precise, less time will be spent trying to identify which goods are going to be shipped. Instead, the supply will already be present in the warehouse and ready to be shipped.

Forecasting software that draws data from trends and qualitative analysis can also identify the types of goods that may fit into new and exciting trends. If a warehouse can utilize that data to get the newest items that are most appealing, more customers will use that warehouse to get those goods before they are sold out. 

Overall, forecasting software will create improved customer satisfaction because it ultimately improves performance and productivity of the warehouse itself.

Business Planning

Regardless of your business size, it is always important to consider growth potential. Of course, managers will want to meet deadlines and thresholds for the immediate future; however, long-term growth should also be considered. With effective forecasting software, warehouses can gain strategic insights into how they will wisely use their resources. It will also create more accurate data reports involving productivity and efficiency in the warehouse. Managers can use this data to plot out their growth path and to avoid or mitigate any challenges they may face.

Contact eoStar

At eoStar, we have developed a variety of software options to improve warehouse logistics and performance. We have decades of experience and are willing to work with you to develop a customized forecasting software experience. Additionally, our team is on standby to provide continual support after our software is integrated into your logistics systems. Contact us today for a consultation. 

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Things to Know About ERP for Distribution

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Enterprise Resource Planning, also known as ERP, is an essential tool for any distribution business. ERP for distributors allows employees and managers to have a centralized network that operates multiple aspects of the business. This includes elements such as payroll, inventory, KPIs, marketing, and more. 

ERP is a suite of various software modules and components that are tailored to your business needs. Regardless of what sector of beverages you operate in, ERP will improve optimization of logistics and accounting. ERP for distribution provides an advantage over those operating via spreadsheets and paper. This is why ERP for your business is necessary if you want to grow and remain organized and efficient.

Here are some of the important aspects of ERP that may help your distribution company. These are aspects of ERP software suites you should research before purchasing an ERP suite from a vendor. 

Business Data

Utilizing an ERP can be a scary venture, especially if it is your first time. When you are first starting off, the idea of tracking trends over time may not be at the very top of your priorities list. Regardless, after you have established your baseline, you may discover that you need to start analyzing trends for market growth.

The importance of analyzing trends and business data is that it will give you a closer insight into your business’s performance. You may often find areas in which improvements can be made when you look at trends such as inventory tracking, employee performance, delivery routes, and so on. 

Business data and trends can be analyzed on a short- or long-term basis. This can show you how new products are doing or how employees have been performing. If you are looking to improve your business growth, even if things are going well, using an ERP to analyze business data will provide you with the knowledge to expedite growth.

Scalability

There are ERPs that are also scalable for your business. Ideally, most business owners want to see their businesses grow and prosper. Using an ERP to begin with will expedite that growth process; however, you will want to ensure that your ERP suite will continue to work optimally when your business grows. As more responsibilities, tasks, and logistical goals are created, your ERP suite must be able to accommodate the new workload.

There are multiple aspects to scalability that should be considered. Depending on the type of ERP you are using, additional hardware for your system may be necessary. This comes in the form of additional memory to store data, or perhaps additional processors to keep up with higher numbers of transactions or calculations. If you are shopping for a new ERP suite, you will want to make sure you can customize the hardware so it can physically keep up with your growth.

The software itself is another element that is important to consider. The software, its dashboard, and access to data must be able to accommodate the increase in workload. This means being able to change or update modules so they can handle additional data and usage.

Another important aspect of scalability is that it will likely cost you more in terms of time, money, and productivity to completely replace your ERP suite with another software suite to organize your business. During such an upgrade or replacement there will be downtime, new bugs or glitches to resolve, and new training that employees must undergo. Due to the fact that distribution businesses are prime candidates for later growth, scalability is an important aspect to consider when shopping for an ERP system.

Dashboards and Accessibility

Having an easily understandable dashboard for users is important for all distributors and their ERP. Easy-to-understand data and user interfaces will improve productivity because the user will spend less time trying to figure out how to find what they are looking for. Accessibility also reduces time spent trying to train new employees on how to figure out the system. If the ERP has an intuitive dashboard, users will feel more comfortable accessing data and compiling reports. 

Integration

When you are looking for a new ERP suite for your distribution business, make sure to research how easy it is to integrate and implement the product. A grand and complex ERP suite may be great, but if there is significant cost or conflicts of software, it may turn out that your return on investment will not be what you had hoped. It will be important to compare and contrast your different systems with your potential ERP product. 

When integrating a new ERP system, or any new tool or technique for your business, it is wise to consider your return on investment. While you can factor in the initial cost, you will also want to compare future cost/benefits of different aspects of your business performance and how it relates to your ERP. 

Lastly, while you are researching products to optimize distribution operations, be sure to research the vendor itself. Different vendors will provide different quality products, including long-term management and support. Integrating any new software suite will likely come with bugs or technical glitches; that is to be expected with any new system. However, if you purchase an ERP from a vendor who provides no support after the product has been integrated, you may find yourself struggling to overcome the challenges. Additionally, a good vendor may have other products that can accompany your ERP and further improve your small business’s efficiency. Creating harmony and synergy between your ERP and other third-party programs will be beneficial for your distribution organization. 

Contact eoStar 

If you are managing and operating a warehouse and are looking for a new ERP, contact eoStar. We can help you integrate a new and customizable ERP suite into your warehouse enterprise. We have been in the business of optimizing warehouses, both small and large, for many years and will be happy to help you grow.

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What You Need From an Inventory Tracking System

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An effective inventory tracking system is one of the most important tools for any warehouse management tool. An optimized system will allow you to track your inventory from its arrival in your warehouse to the customer’s hands. When you have accurate data about your supply chain that is easily accessible, your warehouse business will see increased productivity and profits. A good system will also help you avoid errors, provide you with alerts, help you with warehouse space, and more. 

Here are some of the most important elements that any inventory tracking system must have.

Alerts for Inventory Levels

Gauging supply and demand is a constant aspect of the warehouse business. A customizable inventory tracking system can provide you the opportunity to set alerts for inventory. These alerts can be set based on certain thresholds that you deem appropriate. With alerts for overstocked items, you can create promotional advertisements to clear those items out sooner. It will also allow you to reduce or suspend any pending orders for that item in order to avoid further overstocking. 

If you receive alerts for understocked items, you can preemptively review any pending orders. This can allow you to gauge whether or not you need to increase orders. Additionally, this can help prevent a lag in delivery time in your supply chain if you are able to mitigate the chances of the warehouse delaying shipments due to understocking. 

Having alerts in your inventory tracking system is a crucial part of ensuring your warehouse maintains efficient levels of inventory.

Metric and Trend Reports

While getting your products from your warehouse to the consumer is the quintessential element of a warehouse business, it is also important to have access to the data and metrics that are generated from your activities. Having access to data will allow you to see different trends that are occurring over time. It is generally easier to get a grasp of what is happening in the immediate moment; however, our memories are fallible and it may be challenging to know what the trends are without access to historical data. 

Trends can show you which inventory leaves your warehouse the most, the optimal price for that inventory, when that inventory leaves with the most frequency, and other metrics. When you have access to this data, you will be able to more effectively optimize your warehouse enterprise. 

In order to sustain long-term growth and profit, your inventory tracking system should include the ability to analyze and observe trends. Short-term and long-term trends can speak volumes about employee efficiency, optimal inventory levels, and more. 

Easily Understandable Dashboard

It is great to have a system that has lots of data; however, if that data takes a long time to read or understand, then that negates the point of having access to that information. Whether the employee or manager is a seasoned pro or a new hire in your warehouse, it is essential that they have access to easily understandable information. 

The less time employees spend trying to figure out what certain data means, the more time they can spend performing other productive tasks. Additionally, if you have an easily understandable dashboard, it will reduce the amount of time newly-hired employees will have to spend in training. This will save the warehouse time and money. It can also help reduce the amount of human errors if data is easily understandable.

An accessible and useful dashboard that provides understandable data and metrics is another key component for an effective inventory tracking system. 

Important Inventory Metrics

Different inventory tracking systems provide different types of data. However, regardless of how the system is used, there are a few critical tracking metrics that must be incorporated in the system. 

Your inventory tracking system must have the ability to track returns. Items that come back from customers may be siphoned into a “damaged goods” category, and sent elsewhere. Or perhaps the customer got the wrong item or is unsatisfied with what they received. Whatever the reason, you will have an item coming back to your warehouse and your inventory tracking system will need to know how to accurately measure this metric. 

Your system will also need to efficiently track items that come from your supplier. Some of your inventory may be on-site at your supplier’s warehouse or storage, or in transit to your warehouse. It is important to know where the items exist in the supply chain. If there are points in the chain in which the item’s location is unknown, it will ultimately lead to an error or miscalculation. Errors and miscalculations will cost you time and money.

Before integrating any new inventory tracking systems, be sure it includes the ability to track returns, damaged goods, and the location of items in the supply chain from your supplier. 

Scalability

As warehouses grow, so too do the inventory levels. Increased growth is certainly a good thing; however, with more inventory come more organizational and logistical responsibilities. It is a good idea to find an inventory tracking system that can grow and evolve alongside your enterprise. Having growth coupled with optimized organization and tracking will aid your warehouse in avoiding negative trends or significant logistical issues. Employees with access to customization options in the system can review trends involving growth and identify which types of modules or metrics to incorporate in the newly scaled system. 

One element of scalability is finding software that uses a cloud-based system. This will let you more easily back up your data, allow access across various locations, and you will not have to hire a large IT staff to maintain computer servers. 

Contact eoStar for a Consultation

If you are looking for help in developing an inventory tracking system for your warehouse, contact eoStar today for a consultation. eoStar has been in the warehouse optimization business for years, and we would be happy to help you increase efficiency with a custom inventory tracking system.