3 Distribution ERP Software Trends for 2015
Our crystal ball is out of storage again as we take a moment to make some forecasts about the 2015 ERP trends which will have an impact in the distribution industry.
1. Business Intelligence Will Grow in Importance and Demand
Along with many other industries, distributors want simple, easy to use dashboards that plainly let us know how we are doing right now and what should we be doing next. What order should we pick next? A dashboard will evaluate what we have on hand and which customer orders require those products and help us intelligently select the optimum schedule to work to. Legacy distribution ERP products used heuristics to suggest moving a purchase order in or cancelling another. We are capable of so much more today.
In 2015, our dashboards should be able to evaluate an entire new order as it is being entered into the ERP. Can we deliver all the lines the customer asks for on time? If not, when could we deliver? What lines could deliver to the request. While the customer is on the phone we can let them know how their order fits into our schedule in real-time.
2. Improved Automation Leading to the Electronic Warehouse
The cost of robotics continues to fall. Soon we could see the day when we can buy a robotic device for a few hundred dollars that will replace pickers and automatically put products away in the perfect location without errors. Automation once meant our distribution ERP could print a pick list in bin sequence, but today we skip the pick list and direct people to bins for every order on hand we will ship today. The products can be quickly sorted at shipping to the right outbound orders.
2015 will see improved integration with other systems too. Our transportation management system will determine the sequence of loading for our truck and move that sequence to pickers who will pick the products in the front of the trailer first and those products for first deliveries will be picked last.
3. Inventory Management Will Rule
The best distributors have always kept a focus on their inventory. Whatever products come into a warehouse are constantly on the move until all on hand are sold and shipped. The rare product that ends up unsold is quickly disposed of. Incoming supply and outgoing demand are always in balance. In 2015, the best distributors will be those who quickly utilize distribution ERP business intelligence and warehouse automation to build on their success. The gap between those that manage their inventory through distribution ERP and the rest will grow along with the difference in their profits.
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