As your business grows and evolves, there comes a time for you to look for software that can streamline and automate your processes to allow you to have more control over your performance. Or you could already be using multiple pieces of software for different areas of your business but want to find an all-in-one solution that bridges any gaps that you may have with existing systems.
This is where an ERP system can make all the difference: ERP (enterprise resource planning) software automates complex business processes and allows companies to focus on growing their business without the growing pains.
There are lots of options in the market to choose from, and it can be difficult to know whether a generic or industry-specific ERP is the right choice for your business. The ERP you choose can have a huge impact on your business, so it’s important to consider the benefits of each one.
The shortcomings of generic ERPs for wholesale & distribution businesses
The right fit ERP solution should allow businesses to focus on thriving and growing, rather than holding them back due to inefficient processes and lack of functionality.
In my experience, I have found a few common problems arise when businesses look to a generic ERP:
- A clunky ERP that’s missing the right features for a business’s needs
Whilst a generic ERP solution may give businesses a more aesthetic interface or some improvements in reporting and workflows, they often lack the flexibility to make modifications as the business grows and needs change.
This means that businesses run the risk of simply replacing previous work, rather than being able to build new processes to continue growing.
- An overly complicated sales process with an inexperienced provider
A generic ERP provider usually needs to be taught a whole new language and working with an inexperienced sales or support team runs the risk of things getting lost in translation or a business’s needs not been fully understood. This results in businesses having to spend too much time fighting with the software rather than using it to make a positive impact on the business.
- A lack of connection or trust between the business and provider
It’s hard to form a connection or build trust with a provider that doesn’t understand what your business does every day and its software needs. This leads to lost opportunities such as the cross-flow of ideas to help streamline processes and find solutions to specific problems faced within a business’s industry.
Additionally, businesses may miss out on that “personal touch” from experienced providers that so often makes interactions and experiences so much easier.
Why you should look for an industry-specific ERP provider
Many of these problems can be mitigated by spending extra time finding the right ERP provider for your industry. When you ensure that things aren’t lost in translation and that you have the right functionality, you’re giving yourself a head start.
Industry-specific ERPs can provide a lot of solutions for your business’s specific needs:
Quicker and easier setup – many industry-specific ERP providers already have custom setups for both wholesalers and retailers, and sometimes even for your specific industry. So whether they’re doing import costing and large warehouse
systems, or just a retail store, the provider can set it up very fast and have it fit 95% of your needs from the start. This leaves you with additional budget and time to make sure the software is customised to your specific business’s needs, and your team is adequately trained prior to deployment – making for a smooth transition.
Minimises the time that it takes to get a good result – when you put the right platform in place, the steppingstones to the next level and to each part of your industry-specific journey are going to be a lot shorter. As your business enjoys growth, a good industry-specific ERP should be able to be modified to suit your new business needs and continue to support your growth.
Increases productivity through automation – many of the processes you will be initially looking to automate are usually manual and complex. These processes are more than likely to be common amongst your industry, and therefore already built into an industry-specific ERP, helping to maximise the efficiency of your team from day 1.
A long-term partner to see you through the highs and lows – the right software will have a 10- to 20-year projected timeline and a roadmap for the product, which shows that the provider is in a good place in terms of maintaining the momentum of clients’ businesses and its own commitment to IT.
Finding the right ERP solutions for warehouse and distribution businesses
Warehousing and distribution-based businesses can often be taking on thousands of transactions, have a complex and large inventory and a customer base to match. You’ll need the right ERP software to manage it all – Inventory Management, CRM, Financials, Workflows and more. Your business should also work with software that allows for growth as you continue to succeed.
Some of the integrations that warehouse and distribution businesses should consider are:
In distribution, the biggest challenge is getting the warehouse barcode correct: knowing that the product you’re selling is the correct one (and in stock), and the product you’re receiving is the right one. You need real trust in your inventory across the board.
Any growing business will eventually need to look at a WMS integration, because as the transaction count goes from hundreds to thousands, you want to make sure that you’re able to rely on the picking and packing process and the overall inventory management that’s occurring.
- Integrated business intelligence reporting and workflow
ERPs often provide greater reporting, and you should take advantage of these features to be able to forecast revenue, track your pipelines, and generate insightful reports on all aspects of your business.
- Journey management
There is a lot of talk now about journey management. Where is the product going? Who is it going to? When does it have to leave? Where is it on the picklist? You’ve got a schedule of orders that must be picked, and every single one of these may need to go on a different truck with a different courier. Journey management will ensure that your business won’t miss on these complicated paths, and it’s a solution that distribution businesses should prioritise.
HARMONiQ is a fully customisable ERP system that offers all these integrations – and more – with over thirty years of experience delivering software solutions to businesses in industries with traditionally complex inventory and management requirements, such as tiling, manufacturing, and automotive parts and more. We’re able to work with you to provide expert solutions to ensure that your business can grow and succeed from the start.
Robert Butler is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome ineffective business systems and processes by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss how to find the right ERP for your business, you can reach out via email here.