4 points of comparison when selecting a distribution ERP

You are a distributor and you are considering a new or updated ERP to help manage your business. What do you look for? How can you distinguish brand A from brand X? A good place to begin your consideration might be the activities that make money for you or the characteristics that separate you from your competition.

Customers

Customers are your lifeblood, without them you would not be in business. But those customers are not all alike. Within most distribution ERP systems you will find customer relationship management (CRM) tools. CRM will help you identify customers who have placed orders recently and what products they bought. You can also see at a glance which ones have paid for their purchases and how long it took to collect. Any CRM will tell you about your most recent contact with a customer. The best ones go beyond and help you to know which ones place the most profitable orders and are easiest to do business with. When you need to choose which customer deserves the better service, CRM is your friend.

Fulfillment

Consider which distribution ERP helps fulfill orders in the way you practice at your business. If a customer wants delivery between 6 and 7 PM, you will need to schedule other orders around that time period. If a customer wants an order delivered complete with all items at one time, your ERP should help avoid the embarrassment of delivering all but one item. It might also help you get paid as a customer might refuse payment on an incomplete order.

ERP distribution tools such as cross-dock receiving and slotting will help with fulfillment and provide the ability to better manage immediate shipments with less cost.

Recommended Reading: ERP Selection Survival Guide - Make the right selection for your distribution ERP

Optimize inventory

If you have inventory, you can make a sale. If you don't have inventory, you might miss a sale. What about if you have inventory but cannot find it when a shipment is in preparation? You miss the sale and you look bad to your customer. The right distribution ERP should help manage receipts of products and suggest the best bin for storage based on immediacy of the need and the size and weight of the product. ERP will help with the right quantity and timing of purchase orders to best satisfy demands and it will help eliminate surplus inventory as soon as it becomes surplus while it can still have some value.

Compliance

Your food distribution customers depend on you to manage the freshness of inventory and distribution ERP will help with capability to trace the source and the use by dates ensuring your customers never receive stale merchandise. Chemical distribution customers will expect you to store inventory in the proper temperature and humidity to maintain potency. The best distribution ERP systems will allow automatic data logging so you can vouch for the storage conditions your customers demand. Customers who import products through your distribution channel will want to know you are watching the flow of products from their source and ensuring they pass quickly through customs and at the correct duty rates and many distribution ERP systems provide the pass-through visibility to provide for those needs.

Use the features important to your business to compare distribution ERP systems to select the one that best fits your requirements.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller

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