Mobile Sales Applications and Other ERP Tools for Sales Reps

July 23, 2014

sales-rep-erp-toolsTraditionally being a sales rep meant going to door to door to sell product, attending trade shows, showing product demos and cold calling prospects in order to meet quotas. Even though modern sales reps may perform some of the same tasks, a successful sales rep will do more than just sell product.  Instead they will work to develop long-term partnerships with their clients, challenging them to implement processes and technology to improve their businesses and achieve their goals. This means sales reps must nurture clients before, after, and during the sale, and establish themselves as an expert in the industry. With social media and the internet, it is more important than ever for sales reps and companies to differentiate their businesses by the service they offer, knowledge they provide and relationships they develop.  Information previously only available to sales reps is now accessible to anyone with access to the internet and today 93% of the buying process starts with an internet search.

“Sales is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a function of doing numerous things right, starting from the moment you target a potential prospect until you finalize the deal.” 

Jill Konrath, Author of the Best Selling Book Snap Selling

As a business owner, it is important to employ the right processes and provide your sales team with the appropriate tools in order to develop these types of partnerships with clients.  Having sales tools that are a part of your back-end ERP system will help sales reps in the field, while still maintaining a single database for other departments in the company.

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Using Business Intelligence Tools to Drive Decision Making

July 15, 2014

business intelligence toolsWhen you think about Business Intelligence (BI), a number of things may come to mind – analytics, data mining, event processing, benchmarking, performance management, predictive analysis and reporting fall under this umbrella term. Generally speaking, Business Intelligence refers to any tool or technology that can turn raw information into something meaningful for business owners. It is the ability to extract actionable insight from the internal and external data available to an organization, for the purpose of supporting decision making and improving corporate performance.

While BI systems can provide a world of benefits to companies that implement the appropriate tools, there are some common barriers faced by small or medium-sized organizations in doing so. For example, tight budgets, and limited human resources can make it difficult to commit the time to evaluating your businesses’ BI needs, and implementing the systems to manage them. To overcome these limitations as well as other barriers, focus on 4 critical areas to ensure successful BI adoption into your organization:

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3 Things I Learnt About eCommerce at IRCE

July 7, 2014

IRCE 2014

By Samantha Hornby

A couple of weeks ago we attended IRCE 2014 – the world’s largest eCommerce conference and exhibition in Chicago, IL.  This year’s show celebrated the 10th Anniversary of IRCE and showcased more than 600 solutions providers and had over 6000 attendees.  The great thing about IRCE is that it not only gives vendors a chance to speak with attendees and hopefully close some sales, but it also gives vendors an opportunity to network with one another, forge new partnerships and learn about new technology and trends in the industry. As a first time exhibitor, it was a great learning experience for Blue Link and we have highlighted some of what we learnt below.

1. There are A LOT of eCommerce packages available

Although a simple Google search will confirm the fact that there are dozens of eCommerce platforms available in the market, at this year’s IRCE show specifically, there were over 80 eCommerce platforms exhibiting!  With this much information and choice it can be overwhelming for first time attendees to distinguish between platforms and chose one that is best for their company.  Even those who did their research before may have encountered several platforms that they didn’t know existed. This is a common problem when searching for software and sometimes having too much choice can leave companies to not make any decision at all.

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3 Ways to Increase Warehouse Productivity with Distribution Software

June 27, 2014

warehouse distribution managementYou can achieve improved productivity in your distribution business’ warehouse through a variety of activities, ranging from automating order entry processes to providing training for staff. By definition, productivity describes the input to output ratio on a final product, so warehouse oriented businesses are always looking for ways to better manage those inputs while still producing quality outputs. With the help of distribution software, here are three ways this can be done:

1. Optimize picking/packing processes

As a distribution business, it is very important to optimize the basic picking and packing processes in your warehouse. Saving time and reducing errors here presents a huge opportunity to increase productivity. Consider investing in distribution ERP software with barcode scanning functionality to streamline the receiving, picking, packing, and shipping process. A great alternative to a heavy, expensive, traditional barcode scanning machine is a mobile application that runs on iOS devices. This technology streamlines many processes in the warehouse including the ability to itemize products that need to be picked, mapping out how employees should go through the warehouse most efficiently. Pickers and packers can also quickly scan and look up inventory items at the source to retrieve information about the product such as descriptions, pricing and images and in the case of an empty shelf if the item is somewhere in overstock, on backorder or available at other locations. Using this kind of mobile barcode scanning application for handheld picking and receiving is a great alternative to traditional scanners, and will help eliminate the errors and time constraints of performing these tasks manually with pen and paper.

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Part 2 of 2: What You “Need-to-Know” about Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

June 10, 2014

virtual-logistics-ediLast week, we wrote about the basics of EDI, and the advantages it can provide your company. As promised, we’re back for Part 2 with an overview of the opportunities EDI can provide, as well as some advice from Robin Smith of Virtual Logistics about picking a solution.

Like we said in Part 1 of this series, EDI represents a set of standards, outlining formats for how information should be electronically communicated between two parties. Oftentimes, large companies require their suppliers to follow these standards. If your company uses EDI, it opens up the door to be able to do business with these larger distributors or retailers. Furthermore, the automation associated with EDI works to reduce errors and operate more efficiently. This will allow your company to focus more energy on other parts of the business. Your team will now be able to think more strategically about growing the business or developing relationships with customers and partners, instead of getting bogged down with administrative tasks.  We also spoke a little bit about the importance of choosing an ERP system that will integrate with EDI. When everything from purchase to billing at your company must meet EDI standards, make sure you are using an ERP system that has the capability to facilitate integration with EDI translation services!

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Part 1 of 2: What You Need-to-Know about Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

June 2, 2014

EDIYou may have heard the term “Electronic Data Interchange” (or “EDI”) being used around your office, warehouse, distribution facility, or even among your suppliers and competitors. But what does it mean exactly? EDI represents a set of standards, outlining formats for information that can be electronically exchanged between 2 parties. EDI is used in companies for many reasons. For example, it allows for easy communication between locations, it helps track and update inventory, and can even be used to transmit financial information and payment in electronic form (Electronic Funds Transfer or EFT).

While it may seem cumbersome to follow this set of guidelines, EDI can provide many benefits to your company, especially if it is properly integrated into a robust ERP system. When searching for an ERP solution to manage your inventory and accounting needs, look for something that can facilitate integration with EDI translation services. This integration will allow the import and export of transactions between your ERP system and approved EDI service providers. The use of EDI and proper ERP-EDI integration has many advantages for your business:

  • Automation: EDI-based transactions communicate the same information as paper-based transactions, but they involve far less human intervention. For example, if a sales order is received through EDI, the vendor will not need to key in the customer’s information and manually update inventory – this will be done automatically.
  • Greater flexibility: EDI allows companies to more easily work with electronic customer data, such as vendor tracking, purchases and returns, shipping, and inventory count.

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Managing Business Growth with Software

May 26, 2014

business growthIf your company is facing an increase in order volume, difficulty tracking available inventory, and just a little bit of disorganization as a result of growth, perhaps it’s time to start managing this growth by evaluating alternatives for doing so. There are a number of options available to you, and the first step to making the right decision is to educate yourself on these. As a growing business, you can:

  1. Use an introductory software system to automate certain processes
  2. Invest in a robust ERP system to manage all of your accounting and inventory management needs
  3. Hire an employee to manage additional workload

Choosing between these three options can be tough, and making the appropriate decision requires time, effort, patience, and commitment. Here are some starting points:

When your company starts experiencing significant growth, it’s both exciting and stressful. Even if you’d anticipated this growth, the increase in order volume and its impact on other areas of the company such as customer service, shipping, product returns and inventory management can create a hectic environment. The extra work should not prevent you from starting to think about new resources and processes to better manage growth. On the contrary, your available options should be evaluated as soon as possible, before things become completely unmanageable. Find a solution that will align with the future of your company and help foster this growth – even if this may not necessarily be the approach you originally thought of, or the simplest to implement. Start from the beginning by doing research on your options, so that you find the one that best fits your business model and goals so that you can continue to grow in the future.

Managing Business Growth with Software

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