Six Ways to Reduce Expenses in Wholesale Distribution

If your business engages in wholesale distribution, maintaining efficiency while reducing expenses is an important pursuit.

While it’s too late to make big adjustments to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and distribution systems in time for the end-of-year-spike, the lull that can follow as the new year starts is a great time to take a big-picture look at your processes.

At Markinson, we’ve put together several ways to improve wholesale distribution management while reducing your costs:

Inventory is expense

Everything in your warehouse is incurring a cost. Keep inventory as low as possible by implementing systems that allow you to treat your warehouse as a node in the link between your supplier and customer, and not as a home for goods. Also identify slow-moving inventory and price it to reflect its higher warehousing cost.

Manual processes equal added costs

Business-wide electronic and real-time tracking not only reduce costs by improving processes within your business, but also makes your business more attractive for customers (and suppliers). Share your data with customers and suppliers so that they know what you have stocked, what you can source, where products are and how long they’ll take to arrive. Doing so will help to move your inventory – creating revenue while reducing storage costs.

A better crystal ball

Your sales team’s projections aren’t the only to predict future demand. Focus on using the information generated within an enterprise resource planning system such as MomentumPro as a more accurate predictor of future trends.

Consolidate

Eliminating duplicate systems is a quick way to reduce costs. Drive cost reduction by ensuring there’s a single point of responsibility in your business for keeping a handle on excess inventory. Don’t forget the basics, such as getting rid of aging inventory.

Prioritise cost reduction

Make reducing costs a priority by creating KPIs around expense reduction. If you don’t have one already, create a dashboard view of your expenses, report on them, and ensure that the business is aware of where its costs lie. It may not always be as glamorous as sales, but reducing costs plays just as valuable a role in improving profit.

Embrace E-Commerce

Drive down your cost of processing sales and extend the hours you can trade and regions you can target. Provide a self-service portal for customers to free up your customer service resources.

Contact us to find out how we can provide solutions for your wholesale distribution challenges.


Key Features of a Successful Stock Management System

Stock or inventory management is the process of overseeing the flow of items into and out of your inventory.  A well-functioning stock management system keeps stock costs under control and helps to achieve positive cash flow.  

Ensuring the right stock is at the right place, at the right time is critical to manage supply chain volatility.  Stock control software can streamline operations by consolidating sales information, and giving employees access to current and reliable inventory data. 

But what passes for an effective stock management system and what features should you look for?

Stock management software should ideally deliver up-to-date inventory figures, comprehensive financial management and fast, easy reporting capabilities in one easy-to-use interface.  It should address the following functions as a minimum:

Inventory management

A stock management system should give you the capability to monitor changes in customer demand, and track input costs for improved production capabilities. This will increase purchasing efficiency and reduce delays in new inventory orders.  It will also allow your employees to access up-to-date and reliable information on current inventory, thus achieving complete inventory control.

Financial management 

A good stock management system will also allow you to update, monitor and implement special pricing structures across various locations, customers and products throughout the financial year.  It will help you keep track of accounts and perform various banking and reporting functions off-site. 

Customer management 

Your stock management system should allow you to quickly track customer orders, update profile information and record sales figures. 

By increasing the speed of transactions and providing customers with up-to-date inventory information, you will increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and capture more revenue in the long term. 

When considering inventory software, remember that the goal of implementing a solution is to keep your businesses’ cash flow on track by better managing operating capital.


Integrating E-Business with your ERP System

A challenge we often hear from our customers is: 

“We spend a lot of time handling orders over the phone and through email and fax. We want to build an online store that allows our customers to place orders online 24/7 and integrates with our ERP system.”

Adding an online sales channel for your business does not have to be complicated and stressful. With WebOnline, setting up a fully integrated web store that exchanges data with the MomentumPro is straightforward.

WebOnline features a user-friendly, fully searchable web store interface that allows your customers to access live information from MomentumPro such as current pricing and stock availability. Customers can place orders 24/7 at their convenience.

The online store is highly configurable to match the look and feel of your brand and feature-rich with the ability to customise product categories and add multiple product images.

Integration of WebOnline and MomentumPro also ensures orders are processed efficiently. For example, an order placed by a customer via your online store is automatically pushed to the MomentumPro ERP software system to fulfil from your warehouse. This eliminates the need for any manual entry of sales order information. Once an order processed, customers can track their orders online and obtain invoices.

WebOnline is an integrated module for users of the MomentumPro ERP System and enables both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) transactions.

To find out more about how WebOnline for MomentumPro can work for your business, contact our experts today.


Top 5 Enterprise Resource Planning Trends

The rise of the cloud and a new emphasis on software means a greater flexibility in ERP solutions that can drive a business in new ways. 

1. Cloud growth leads to renewed focus on agility in ERP 

The option of storing part or all of their enterprise resource planning software and data in the cloud can lead to lower up-front costs for businesses, as they no longer need to make capital investments in server acquisition and system maintenance.  

Instead of hardware, the emphasis will be on implementing cloud-based systems that best deliver a competitive advantage for the company. Configuration of powerful, comprehensive ERP solutions by a consultant rather than a developer will become more attractive. 

2. ERP goes mobile 

The mobile revolution has the potential to put ERP control in the hands of managers wherever they are. Managers, especially in manufacturing and wholesale businesses, are able to approve workflows, manage customers and inventory, and monitor the performance of their business in real-time. The key to harnessing this powerful decision-enabling tool is a properly integrated ERP mobility system with real-time updates across mobile, tablet and computers, without the need for time-consuming data transfers. 

Mobile ERP will become even more important as businesses and resources become more dispersed.  Ideally, an ERP system should not only update managers with anytime, anywhere information, but also incorporate automation of this information for salespeople, technicians and analysts in the field. 

3. Customers become a greater part of the solution 

The growth of self-service options and customer portals within ERP solutions means many tasks that would have previously been left to an inbound customer service team will instead be available to customers 24/7 via a self-service portal. 

Customers will be able to generate invoices, reports, browse their purchasing or service history, and plan future orders or services at their leisure. As well as delivering efficiencies and automating processes for a business, this will also lead to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and engagement, since customers will have greater control over their own information. 

We’ll also see integration from companies’ customer portals to those of suppliers, business customers and manufacturers, allowing seamless customer views of supplier catalogue data during the purchase process. 

4. Big data and actionable analytics 

Harnessing big data to make decisions will become increasingly prevalent. Companies who’ve had ERP systems in place for a number of years already have a great amount of data at their disposal. The evolution of mobile purchasing and the sheer amount of customer and purchasing data will mean the available insights are clearer and more comprehensive than ever. 

The challenge will lie in making sure the data is available to those who need it most, and stored and arranged in such as way that it lets managers see the clearest possible picture of their business. 

Automating as much as possible will allow reliance on ERP recommendations for reordering and warehouse distribution, rather than manual effort and potential for human error. Ideally, reordering should be optimised through the right analysis capabilities to forecast demand.  

When speaking to businesses about implementing a new ERP software solution, we find that many currently spend about 80% of their time preparing data, and only 20% actually analysing the enterprise intelligence it delivers.

Businesses will increasingly invert that ratio in the coming years, as the importance of analytic insights increases to allow management by exception. 

5. Investment in knowledge replaces investment in hardware 

As ERP and other software solutions are increasingly deployed via the cloud, many organisations will realise the competitive advantage they can leverage by ensuring staff have an in-depth knowledge of the solution they’re working with. This goes well beyond the IT department.  

Funds that would have previously been invested in infrastructure and hardware maintenance can be redirected to allow more operational expenditure on better equipping resources through training and fine-tuning business processes.  This in turn helps to maximise the investment in the ERP solution.


Looking for an ERP solution? 4 Questions to Ask

Implementing a new ERP system or overhauling an existing one requires a considerable investment of time and effort. Where do you start?

Here are four questions to think about and to ask your vendor when evaluating an ERP system.

Does it fit our business goals?

Businesses have unique needs and varying requirements. An ERP software system that is great for one business might not suit another. While the benefits of using an ERP system may be obvious, it is important understand the functionality of the system and evaluate its alignment with user needs and business goals. Does the software help you automate the processes that your business is carrying out repetitively? Will it give your business the visibility needed to improve decision making?

How flexible is the system?

Future-proofing your ERP system is another key consideration. How are additional users added to the system and what the costs involved? What modules or add-ons are available if the business requires advanced functionality in the future? ERP systems are not solutions that you change on a whim so it is critical to invest in software that doesn’t just meet your needs today but also in the years to come.

How long does it take to implement and what is involved?

The quicker the implementation, the quicker the business starts to realise the benefits. But just as important as the time required to implement the system is, what is the vendor’s proven methodology?

What training and support is available?

To get the most out of an ERP investment, users need to be able to take advantage of its functionality. Ensuring staff are trained up on the system ensures users can work productively and are taking advantage of ways they can make their job more efficient. What training is required to get users up to speed and what ongoing training is available? It is also wise to carefully evaluate the support available for the software. Is there 24/7 support? Is a support package in place to ensure access to technical support when needed?


Five tips for integrating BI and ERP

But despite best intentions, many businesses have struggled to implement BI systems. Others who have successfully rolled it out are using it in unproductive ways, often by mistaking it for a reporting tool.

This is unfortunate because, when implemented correctly, BI is a powerful instrument. One company we deal with, for example, estimates that their BI trends analysis alone has fuelled growth of over 20%. 

In your own business, the key to implementing BI correctly is having a clear understanding of why you’re doing so.

Don’t implement BI – implement an end-goal

One of the reasons that BI is notoriously difficult to get right is the fact that businesses often undertake BI without a well-defined idea of what ‘right’ will mean.

ERP software systems capture an incredible amount of transactions and business data, and the role of BI is to convert these records into information that can be used by decision makers.

It’s vital to remember that the purpose of BI is to produce information and insight. Thus, deciding what insight your business needs is the first step to implementing BI.

Good questions to ask are: which business areas are you going to analyse? What are the important Key Performance Indicators? How will decision makers react to the insight your solution produces and what specific outcomes will it achieve?

Understand that BI will not solve problems in its own right. To be successful, you need to know your business and where you want to take it, then make the turn to BI.

Don’t delegate success

The best BI integrations emerge from deep understandings of business operations.

While BI vendors will do their utmost, this is the main reason that you shouldn’t rely on your vendor to create project success.

Instead, have someone from your own organisation at the helm to drive the project – perhaps yourself and another member of the management team.

Don’t go it alone

BI is a complex arena, and multiple solution types, software packages and integration hurdles make implementation a difficult assignment.

In the same way that a maiden skipper wouldn’t sail for New Zealand without an experienced crew, those responsible for BI integrations can avoid disaster by having practiced help on deck.

Ideally, your BI vendor will be experienced not only in the particular product you’re going to implement, but also in your industry. Because BI is about business improvement, hunting for a vendor with previous exposure to your industry means that the project is more likely to be informed by relevant assumptions about business processes and KPIs from the start – making it that much more likely to succeed.

Avoid the ‘reporting’ pitfall

The most common error that businesses (and sadly even some BI vendors) make is using BI as a reporting tool.

Having BI to simply retrieve and report on records from ERP software systems is like buying a Ferrari to keep in the garage. BI is much more powerful than that.

Whether it’s analysing historical, current or predicted sales, production costs or other forms of business data, BI provides up-to-date information on the state of the business – insights that allow decision makers to evaluate the effectiveness of processes and departments, to understand how the business is operating more broadly and to witness trends in sales as they occur.

To get the most from BI, make sure that your implementation is focused on strategic insights. It’s not about sales volumes or missed targets, but the reasons behind them.

Manage information security

BI is a potent instrument for analysing information about every aspect of a business. Unsurprisingly, however, the level of information it puts in the hands of users is a common concern for CIOs.

To this end, data security within BI solutions needs to be carefully managed, but remember that the benefits of improved information flow across the enterprise far exceed the risks.

Summing up

BI is a difficult area, but it’s also one that offers enormous potential for delivering insights that can boost profits, cut costs and provide an ongoing picture of a business and its market.

With a clear set of aims and expert help where necessary, it can harness the data that resides in ERP systems and turn that latent information into valuable competitive awareness.


Effective integration of Business Intelligence (BI) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems within your business

In today’s competitive environment, managers are anxious to stay well informed of what’s happening within their business and throughout their industry. As a result, businesses are placing more and more emphasis on the integration of Business Intelligence (BI) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems as a platform for informed decision making. But despite the best intentions, many businesses are struggling to implement BI and ERP software systems effectively. The key to effective implementation lies within understanding their wider purpose within your business.

Have a clear understanding of the end goal

ERP software records large volumes of data across a wide range of business functions. The role of BI systems is to then convert this data into relevant information that can be used as a platform for informed decision making. Determining the direction and specific purpose of this information is therefore the first important step in implementing effective BI and ERP systems. Outlining key business objectives, important performance indicators or specific desired business outcomes will give a clear direction with which to successfully employ your BI software.

Use your BI system to its full potential

By limiting your BI system to data collection and record reporting, you underestimate the value of this powerful business tool. BI provides up-to-date information that is relevant to the past, present and future of any business. It can provide the foundation for identifying historical trends and current patterns in important business data such as sales or production costs. It is also a useful means of predicting outcomes and making informed decisions on future developments.

Collaborate don’t delegate

BI and ERP are complex systems and implementation can be a long and difficult process. By hiring the services of an experienced business software provider, you lower your chances of experiencing problems later down the track. Remember that the most effective BI systems are ones that are specifically geared towards the user’s individual business objectives. Therefore,you should ideally aim for a business software provider with extensive experience within your business’ industry and where possible, collaborate with your software vendor to ensure the most effective implementation of your business’ BI system.


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