As a wholesaler striving to grow and stay relevant to customers who are modernizing and increasingly demanding, you need to upgrade the software that runs your business operations. For wholesale businesses, that means finding software that delivers performance in five critical areas:
Let’s look closely at each area, so you know how to evaluate your next ERP software platform.
Because of webstores such as Amazon and eBay, both B2B and B2C customers expect a streamlined, seamless experience from the moment they start shopping to when they click “Buy” and receive the product. For wholesalers, this means eliminating manual processes and integrating ERP and supply chain capabilities directly into eCommerce systems to keep up. Your competitors, no matter their size, are getting on board and offering – or preparing to offer – such “one-stop shop” capability.
By leveraging an ERP system that integrates with popular eCommerce platforms, you’ll quickly advance the intelligence throughout your fulfillment cycle. As customers shop, fulfillment processes kick off automatically so you can deliver what customers want faster. You save money through significant gains in efficiency; for example, instead of paying staff to collect order information and send it to purchasing and then to a manager for approval, a modern ERP system recommends new purchase orders when you reach pre-defined inventory levels. You save on the cost of human resources and prevent costly stock outs.
Integrating eCommerce and ERP systems also delivers new levels of control over your business. When your ERP system receives order data from the eCommerce system, you forego manual data entry, which prevents incorrect and fraudulent manual inputs. You gain a continuous data stream from the front-end customer purchase to the back end for visibility across sales, finance, purchasing, procurement, warehousing, and shipping.
Any wholesaler with a modern ERP system integrates that system with the warehouse and where applicable third-party logistics (3PL) partners. If you have your own warehouse management system, you increase the speed of operations by integrating eCommerce and ERP, with the ERP sending automated approvals to pick and ship from inventory. If you use the services of a 3PL partner, there’s a 99% likelihood that your partner’s systems use simple EDI connections to automatically receive orders from modern ERP software; the flow between eCommerce, ERP, and 3PL systems is often automated among modern wholesalers and their partners. You see this in action when a customer purchases a product from Amazon, but the seller isn’t Amazon – it’s often an SMB wholesaler using this eCommerce-ERP-EDI-to-3PL workflow.
The benefits of integrating shipping into your ERP software are significant. First, shipping speed hits new levels. Second, data is captured electronically, which enables the customer to trace its location more accurately. Third, you reduce incorrect shipment volume because everyone is communicating the same way about shipping dates, due dates, order expediting rules, and qualitative commentary.
How you manage your warehouse is a strategic differentiator sought by customers in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and other industries that rely on tracking products and their associated ingredients, validity, and expiration dates.
Modern ERP systems allow you to track products in your warehouse in line with global government regulations for serialized products. Going well beyond batch-level management of product information, ERP systems perform serial number management, assigning a unique serial number to individual items. You can serialize pallets, cartons, and even single-serving or single-dose packs. Equally important, you can automatically (or manually) assign serial numbers to adjust to fast-changing customer needs on the fly.
Regarding product expiry, customers place a premium on products with longer times to expiration and reject those with short-term expiration dates. Modern ERP software allows you to assign an expiration date to a lot or other quantity type and continuously associate that expiration date with the products as they move through the supply chain. The system automatically appends expiry data within your existing data flows, so you and your customers save money by reducing waste and the costs of dealing with returning or throwing away expired products.
Just-in-time (JIT) delivery, where you order stock as items are needed, is being replaced by MRP, where stock deliveries are based on historical data and forecasted sales. This prevents the mishaps that occur when there are disruptions to the supply chain, including the loss of customers who don’t want to deal with stock outs.
Modern ERP software ensures you follow MRP rules and always have inventory levels that correspond to projected sales volumes. In addition, the software ensures it’s the right inventory by integrating CRM, ordering, inventory management, and supplier collaboration functions.
A modern enterprise software system ties it together for a wholesale company. Well-managed inventory eliminates the disconnects that traditionally occur between front-end sales and backend inventory/supplier systems.
Your wholesale business relies on maintaining strong cash-flow positions, and increasing receivables mean you don’t have the cash on hand to take advantage of discount opportunities for your purchasing department. A modern ERP system helps you aggregate the data required to take advantage of economic order quantities and payables discounts and simultaneously send automated alerts and escalation workflows when invoices go unpaid. The reporting and automated workflows incorporated into modern accounting software provide the insights and actions required to see opportunities to improve cash flow, both in how you buy and how you collect.
There’s so much changing in today’s wholesaling industry that only functional software can help your business keep pace. At Sapphire, we help wholesale businesses address the chief areas of change that affect their profitability – possibly even their survival. Contact us to discuss how we can help you modernize your wholesale business.
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