As B2B and B2C eCommerce continues to increase in popularity, the line between wholesale, retail and eCommerce channels has started to blur. Wholesale companies, previously restricted to buying product from the manufacturer, storing in a warehouse and then selling and shipping to retail and distribution companies, are now starting to offer their product through other sales channels and to different consumers. With eCommerce sales expected to reach US $1.5 trillion by the end of this year, it’s no surprise that wholesale companies are interested in a piece of the eCommerce pie. Many wholesale companies have also branched into the retail space, by opening showrooms for their product, exhibiting at trade shows and building actual brick and mortar retail stores. In order to account for these new sales channels in an all-in-one system, it is important to look for proper inventory and accounting ERP software, with point of sale (“POS”) functionality and eCommerce integration options. This way all data can be stored in a central database, and consequently inventory levels and availability will be accurately reflected no matter which sales channel an order comes in from.
Guest Post by Robert Hyman of HiTech Merchants
E-commerce and the trend to replace paper checks with electronic payments is quickly driving credit card acceptance to the forefront of B2B commerce. As such, there are a number of challenges that must be dealt with when your business starts accepting card payments. Three of them are discussed below.
One challenge is determining the true cost of credit card processing. Complicated pricing models make it difficult to understand the real cost of accepting card payments. For example, interchange differential pricing charges a qualified rate, a non-qualified rate and an interchange differential fee all on the same transaction. Calculating costs with this model is understandably difficult and time-consuming. Interchange plus pricing represents a more transparent pricing model. Interchange plus pricing charges a simple mark-up above the base cost set by Visa and MasterCard allowing for a common price structure to compare one processor to another.
When your business decides to take the crucial step to invest in wholesale inventory software, it is imperative that you make a thoughtful and well-informed decision that satisfies your business’s specific needs. With an abundance of features and customizable options available, achieving this task can sometimes be overwhelming. Although no two companies are exactly the same, there are several popular features that add value to basic inventory software and allow companies to better manage all business operations. These include; landed cost tracking, barcode scanning, sales rep applications, and lot tracking.
Landed Cost Tracking
Landed cost refers to the total cost of an inventoried product, taking into account expenses incurred to collectively purchase, transport, and import goods. Costs accounted for include such items as border fees, duties, taxes, transport costs and insurance, to name a few. Software that effectively manages landed costs has the ability to automatically account for and reconcile the costs mentioned above in order to arrive at the true cost of the goods. This ultimately enables businesses to protect margins and make better purchasing and pricing decisions.
ERP systems are costly. They also involve a significant investment of other resources to implement and maintain, including human resources and time. So when choosing a system, you want to go with a solution that will grow with your company and not require replacement in a couple of years’ time. Investment in accounting and inventory software does not end after the check is signed, and there are several options for extending the life of your system over many years, long after go-live. In order to get the most bang for your buck, consider the following:
Sign up for maintenance.
Maintenance is an extra option provided to businesses that can vary from vendor to vendor, but is generally designed to cover the cost of annual software upgrades and keep the application in warranty. These fees usually amount to a percentage of the cost of software licenses, and can be paid on a monthly or annual basis. The idea is that since most software vendors are continuously adding new features and improving on the technology of their systems, every year or so they release an upgraded version of the software. Paying for maintenance means you receive these upgrades whenever they are released, as opposed to having to purchase a newer version outright. It makes the transition to new technology and features easier if you’re upgrading every year instead of every couple of years. When negotiating maintenance fees with vendors, pay attention to the costs to make sure they also include the cost of the actual implementation and consulting time required to manage the upgrades. If they are not included, these additional fees can exceed the actual maintenance fees themselves.
Choosing to upgrade and implement new distribution ERP software is a huge decision that affects many areas of a company. Not only does it provide the opportunity to improve technologies and increase automation, but it also provides a chance to evaluate processes and streamline activities across all departments. This is why the software search and evaluation process should be as extensive as the implementation process itself, in order to reap all the benefits from an upgrade.
Although most software vendors have unique sales processes for working with prospective customers, almost all will include a demonstration stage at some point. To best evaluate your options, consider only participating in demos when you have narrowed the search down to 2-3 vendors. Trying to evaluate too many can result in information overload, in which no decision is made at all. To best prepare for the software evaluation process, and specifically how to make demos worthwhile, we have outlined some tips below.
Make 80% of Your Decision Before the Demo
Going into a demo, you should already have a good idea as to whether or not the software can meet all your needs, with the demo acting as final clarification. Most of your time should be spent consulting with vendors on your specific business requirements and current processes, prior to even scheduling a demo. Aside from reviewing specific features, a demo should be the final piece of the puzzle that reiterates and showcases what you already know – although software UI is an important factor to consider, it should not trump a system’s ability to meet your needs, and a vendor that understands your business and can help you achieve your goals.
Company culture is the set of values and practices shared by a company’s employees, which influences employee interaction, a company’s work environment, work expectations, future growth and strategic plans. This in turn affects employee behavior, physical company infrastructure and design, technology use, working hours, hiring policies and much more. Company culture is important because it directly impacts the success of a company. Companies with an adaptive culture aligned to business goals regularly outperform their competitors. Company culture is important as it not only affects the people you hire, but also influences the partnerships you develop. This is why culture should play a role in your decision-making process for purchasing new ERP software, and deciding which vendor you want to work with. A good software vendor will also consider company culture when selling their product as it can greatly impact the implementation process, training, success of the project and future communication. To aid in finding the best software vendor for your company, consider the following areas of company culture and how they can impact the decision.
If you’re a growing company looking to implement new ERP software, it is important that your software vendor is also growing and continuously looking to improve and expand upon their product offering. Ask if the company has released any new technologies in the past year and what their development team is currently working on. Determine whether or not they have experience working with similar companies and get a feel for how many users the system can support. You will want to work with a vendor who will be able to manage your projected growth and who has helped other companies grow their business as well. Another important factor to consider is how often the vendor provides software upgrades with new features, and whether or not this comes at an additional charge (including for installation).
As a pharmaceutical company, the products you sell are controlled under a number of pieces of legislation, and it is imperative to abide by these rules in your distribution processes. The best way to manage all aspects of your company’s operations is to implement proper ERP software designed for pharmaceutical distribution companies. In addition to the standard inventory and accounting functionality found in most ERP systems, a solution designed for pharmaceutical distribution will also include more sophisticated product tracking and management functionality to help ensure that you’re adhering to regulations. Controls can also be set up, like system alerts based on user defined settings, and strong reporting to show that you have been compliant.
● Lot Tracking ● DEA & State License Expiry Management
● NDC # Association of Product ● Customer SKU Classification
● Revision Control ● Pedigree Management