Four points of comparison for distribution ERP

How can we choose a distribution ERP system that feels right?  Are there questions we can ask to identify the best solution for our business?

1. Traceability

Many distributors need to be able to trace the lineage of products bought and sold.  If a consumer fell ill after eating food that passed through your business, could you reach out and contact the farmer who originally grew that food, or to the factory where it was made?  Can your auto parts distribution list all the repair shops that you sent a lot of spark plugs to?  You know the traceability features that are necessary, be certain the ERP you consider can meet those needs.

2. Replenishment

Whatever you distribute, you need to be able to put your hands on a product to ship it to your customer.  Your distribution business is constantly on the move and so automated replenishment is necessary much of the time.  

Use this hand-selected distribution ERP comparison to find the right software for your business

Does one distribution ERP provide a purchase order that only needs approval and another provide a weekly list of items that might be running short?  Which of these fits your needs better?  Do your orders land on your dock one day by surprise?  Or do you have ongoing contact with your suppliers as orders are en route and the chance to immediately move a receipt across the dock to an outgoing shipment?

3. Online sales

Sales through e-commerce are an important part of many distributors today.  Your customers might take orders for drop shipping through your business.  You might have sales of your own through your own website.  

Software for web sales is often a stand-alone system that must be integrated with ERP systems somehow.  Drop ship requests from your customer’s sales can flow directly into your ERP and appear as pick requests in your warehouse.   Once picked and shipped to the end consumer, your customer’s bank account can be charged electronically for your payment.  Will the ERP you consider provide seamless integration in a similar fashion?

4. Implementation

Any distribution ERP system will require work before it is installed and running the way it needs to run.  You have a staff of warehouse employees and sales support employees.  Your finance staff is small and your IT department fits into a single room.  Will one vendor distinguish themselves by providing transfer of your existing data into their ERP where another will help your staff with instructions to load the data?  

If one reason you are thinking about a new ERP is the ability to begin voice picking, the vendor that enables your warehouse staff to don headsets and begin modern picking the first day after implementation might set themselves ahead of their competition.

What comparisons are important in your distribution processes?

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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

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Tom Miller

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