ERP. CRM. SAAS.
Let's face it; the alphabet soup of business solutions that gets thrown around can be confusing.
On one hand, you wonder if you are missing out if you are not using them. On the other hand, you also wonder if it's not just another marketing tactic.
But to grow your business, you will need to implement some business management solution.
Particularly for wholesale distributors whose online sales are an ever-increasing proportion of total retail sales; now at 9.1%, up from 8.9% last year. Therefore, companies must position themselves to effectively serve customers online, in order to remain competitive.
To do this, the business must:
- have a robust front-end website for order entry, customer education etc.
- integrate the website with an up-to-date inventory system
- have a business management solution that allows information such as order details, pricing, inventory moves, customer buying habits etc. to flow between functional areas.
Relying on manual methods or legacy software to handle such a complex workflow, will cost your business more than you know.
Within the first year of operation, many businesses can manage inventory and even accounts, using pen and paper. But an increase in order volume brings a greater potential for human error. To avoid this, entry level solutions like QuickBooks may be required to maintain efficiency.
However, as order volume increases, these entry level applications are limited and do not provide the functionality required. When this challenge is met it is a sign that your business needs to look for alternative solutions.
Using Google or sites like Capterra and G2Crowd, you will discover many types of business software. However, before choosing one, decision makers need to first understand and be clear about the company needs and only then choose the right product for their needs.
What Type of Software Does Your Business Need?
For wholesale and distribution companies looking to manage their inventory control, customer service, financial accounting and collect vital business intelligence, there are many options available. They fall into 3 main categories:
Introductory Software Tools
Introductory software is marketed towards small companies as the first solution for automating common tasks. Often regarded as the easiest-to-use business tools, they are often offered with a free trial or using a freemium pricing model.
These include services like Freshbooks for accounting and Fishbowl for Inventory management. These systems are typically used in an organization to carry out one business process.
Businesses that rely on these, end up using several stand-alone solutions to complete tasks across multiple departments.
Mid-tier Software - ERP Software
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is software designed to be an all-in-one business management solution. It includes features for inventory management, accounting, document management, order entry and more.
An ERP software is the next logical step for firms that have outgrown their introductory software. ERP software combines functionality for accounting with order processing, inventory, management. Popular examples include Accolent ERP, Microsoft Dynamics and NetSuite.
True ERP systems also provide advanced features like robust reporting, support multi-location monitoring and even integration with email and other software applications.
Global ERP Software
Global ERP software are considered the top tier of ERP systems. While they generally provide the same features as a mid-tier ERP, they do so on a scale necessary for organizations with global operations.
With global ERP software, the emphasis is on the term global; companies with global operations require additional features such as more detailed reporting, role-based views, multi-currency support etc.
These solutions are costly to deploy, in terms of capital expenditure and IT resources. Examples include SAP and Oracle.
So, do you really need ERP software?
We think so.
As your business grows, you'll find that ERPs are necessary to manage and streamline processes.
While introductory software like Excel are an improvement over entirely manual processes, at some point, even they become redundant. Increased order volume, more inventory to manage and a need for robust reporting are all signs that it’s time to look for more robust software solutions.
Remember that a robust, well-built ERP solution doesn't just monitor finances.
It also provides:
- inventory management by maintaining real-time information on stock levels
- detailed insight and reporting by aggregating diverse types of information into a comprehensive report that can assist with decision-making
- a 360-degree view of the customer and their buying habits with this information, businesses can provide better service to customers by being able to anticipate their needs
- a breakdown of costs incurred to serve customers, thus allowing you to make important decisions such as which product lines/customers are most profitable. This information will dictate where you should focus your efforts
- a low-cost entry to business automation, as ERP systems are designed to scale with company growth. Any advanced functionality required as the business grows, can be added on
Managing complex, interwoven business processes using manual or legacy software is time-consuming. At Admiral Consulting Group, our work with distributors like you, helps us understand what your distribution, management, manufacturing and IT needs are. That's why we support Accolent ERP to satisfy each one.
With such a robust ERP, you can spend more of your time on growing your business, improving profitability, customer experience, and employee productivity.
A cloud based ERP solution, Accolent ERP offers authorized users access to critical information at any time and from any device. Let a fully integrated, end-to-end ERP solution help you make better decisions by providing more accurate business data.
By: Kat Wuethrich, Business Development at Admiral Consulting Group | [email protected]