The Top 3 Challenges Distributors Face When Implementing an ERP System

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It’s hard to imagine any company that would not benefit from better integration of data, processes and technology. Implementing an ERP system is a common way for distribution companies to accomplish all three at once; however, certain industries often present unique challenges and opportunities. Let’s explore manufacturing and distribution and how ERP can be used to achieve significant cost savings and revenue growth in this sector.



  1. Automate from Order to Ship


Most manufacturers and distributors have a plethora of existing and disparate systems. Multiple systems will typically require manual processes for everything from procurement, collections, finance, order management, and delivery fulfillment. Implementing an ERP system provides a great opportunity to standardize procedures from the front to the back office. The resulting consolidated system is more efficient, saving both time and money.

One of our distribution clients, Displays2Go, implemented ERP with a goal of reducing the time from order to ship. Displays2Go manufactures and distributes more than 7,000 products through their catalog and e-commerce—including supplies, fixtures, and presentation materials for retail and trade show displays. They chose a new ERP solution to consolidate their operations, as well as to eliminate paper-based order processing and manual re-entry of orders received from various channels. With orders now flowing from the website to Dynamics NAV, they have reduced the average time from order to shipping by at least 34 percent.

Read the full Displays2Go case study >


  1. Achieve Seamless Information Flow


Distributors require streamlined operations not just for cost savings, but also in order to create a seamless flow of real-time data, from the warehouse to the customer-facing applications. Distributors need to have centrally managed information as well as a unified and robust front for customers. In a world dominated by Amazon and Walmart, traditional distributors are finding it more important than ever to respond to customers quickly. Customers’ expectations are high and they want their orders fulfilled in hours rather than days or weeks.

At Displays2Go’s Contact Center, customer service representatives rely on Dynamics NAV to serve customers more quickly. The availability of complete customer and order information and the ability to search on multiple fields—from within a single screen—make it much easier to locate information and track orders. In the past, answering customer inquiries frequently required representatives to access multiple systems or worse, they had to track down a paper order in the warehouse.


  1. Leverage ERP to Transform


After an ERP implementation, it’s tempting to sit back and enjoy all the new efficiencies. Just don’t stop there! For example, Displays2Go also supplemented their ERP system with several enhancements, including:

  • Integrating Dynamics NAV with Microsoft Power BI to enable managers to forecast customer demand and keep the right amount of inventory in stock
  • Adding an electronic data interchange (EDI) connection with freight carriers to upload invoices electronically, rather than having to key them into the system

Enterprise ERP has the power to transform every aspect of a distributor’s business.

To learn more about ERP solutions for distribution such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics 365, please start here and feel free to contact us anytime with questions.

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