Supply chain

Overcome distribution and supply chain disruptions with ERP analytics

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
Man looking at documents on a clipboard.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) data analytics tools resolve supply chain problems quickly.

Supply chain managers face the continuous threat of disruptive actions that can derail operations at any turn. However, when business leaders integrate enterprise resource planning (ERP) data analytics solutions into supply chain management, problems can be identified early on or eliminated.

Uncertainty and supply chain management

Supply chains are, by their very nature, prone to uncertainty. However, your operation can overcome distribution and supply chain disruptions with ERP analytics.

Let’s consider some of the most common challenges faced in supply chain management:

  • Last-minute changes to customer orders
  • Compliance issues with suppliers or their suppliers
  • Unexpected machine input and output variances
  • Inaccurate measures and tracking of inventory
  • Transportation delays
  • Sudden changes in supplier quality
  • Lack of traceability
  • Poor communication and collaboration among suppliers

While headline-making natural disasters or geopolitical issues get the most attention, usually these more mundane but real day-to-day issues cause the most headaches.

The strength of data analytics

Data analytics help predict and preempt the most common supply chain issues. Forward-thinking companies are turning to data analytics to get ahead of supply chain complexity, simplifying processes, using data effectively and transforming operations.

Data analytics have long been a part of supply chain management. The difference today is that more data are available and trackable; companies can do more with the data they have to develop smarter solutions, often in real-time.

Data analytics are generally bundled into one of three types:

  • Descriptive Analytics. These insights use data to illustrate past performance or behavior. It gives your organization a clear and detailed picture of what has happened. It’s the most foundational and basic type of analysis and plays an important role in planning, strategy development, and decision-making.
  • Predictive Analytics. Data that are collected, organized and reported upon in a coherent manner can help managers make better projections for future behavior. For supply chain leaders, these projections can help forecast events that could be disruptive.
  • Prescriptive Analytics. While the first two categories model data, prescriptive analytics go a step further. They start with a corporate goal and use your predictions, along with rules, real constraints and limitations. These analytics will identify disruptions and help to find a solution.

Collectively, analytics programs provide insights from massive data sets, leveraging the Internet of Things, cloud computing, machine learning, and automation to provide a real-time of your supply chain and related business metrics. They offer insights needed for better decisions in the moment of most crucial need.

Supply chain.

Make better supply chain decisions with real-time ERP dashboards and analytics.

Acumatica and business analytics for your supply chain

At Acumatica, data analytics are a critical component of our ERP solutions. Start with a single version of the truth with a unified data collection and reporting system. Use multiple display options that generate reports for key staff based on role, visual dashboards for KPIs and exports to Excel for use with programs like Power BI.

Acumatica data analytics solutions include:

  • Business intelligence and analytics from data collected from Acumatica and external sources
  • Generic Inquiries, which extracts data and allows for multiple reporting and analytics applications
  • Acumatica Reporting, with access to more than 250 standard reports, and report creation and modification capabilities
  • Acumatica Dashboards, customizable by role, department or person

NexTec helps businesses identify, install and optimize the right ERP solution for their unique needs. Our experts help you leverage supply chain data for better solutions completed more quickly.

Get our short guide to BI and what it can do for your business.

Is your distribution business getting the benefits of a true cloud solution?

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
distribution true cloud solution

Seamless integration, improved security, and the ability to incorporate emerging technologies are just a few of the benefits companies are getting with true cloud solutions, leading to increased productivity and higher ROI.

Wholesale distribution is a complicated business. An industry in a constant state of change, companies in the distribution industry need to work faster than ever. Understanding inventory, cash flow, and the market as a whole requires the right information at the right time provided to people who can use it—no matter where they may be.

Distribution firms are turning to the cloud. But is it true cloud?

To make this all happen, distributors of all sizes are turning to cloud business management solutions. Designed to increase visibility, provide anytime and anywhere access, and deliver information in real time, the cloud provides companies with the mobility they need to make fast and well-informed decisions.

However, not all clouds are created equal. As with any technological movement, there are always fakes. Many legacy vendors worked to repurpose their solutions, slap the cloud label on them, and milk a few more years of revenue from their aging product. These fake cloud products are simply legacy applications that are adapted and hosted on the internet, never truly designed to be delivered and used via the cloud.

Unfortunately, this “cloud” is nowhere near as innovative, efficient, or useful, leaving distribution companies who choose it with an unreliable solution that likely costs much more and delivers much less than expected. Whether it’s limited availability, poor integration, or increased complexity, fake cloud products can hold distributors who choose them back, increasing ownership costs and hindering your scalability.

Knowing the difference between true cloud and fake cloud is critical to the long-term success of your software initiatives, and luckily, a new guide was released to help distributors understand.

What do distribution firms get from a true cloud solution?

Seamless integration, improved security, and the ability to incorporate emerging technologies are just a few of the benefits companies are getting with true cloud solutions, leading to increased productivity and higher ROI. Paired with improved visibility into your sales, order management, inventory, purchasing, production and services, and accounting information and the ability to scale, companies who embrace true cloud solutions can reap the rewards for years to come.

The recently released Acumatica guide, True Cloud vs. Fake Cloud: How Distributors Can Tell the Difference, explored many of the benefits of true cloud solutions and the additional risks of falling into the fake cloud trap.

So why does the cloud hold so much promise? Simple. It tears down barriers to productivity. How?

  1. Functionality and innovation: Distribution firms have unique needs, and business management solutions need to be customized to meet these needs. The cloud makes it easier for vendors to create a distribution-focused solution and for partners to customize and deliver it—no matter how many SKUs, warehouses, or currencies.
  2. Integration made easy: When you choose the right cloud ERP system, that platform will serve as the hub for all your business applications. Knowing this, it’s imperative that the product can connect to all of them. True cloud products were built with this in mind, making it easier and more affordable to integrate.
  3. Data security made simple: Trying to keep track of the software side and the hardware side was often challenging for companies using on-premises products. Luckily, the cloud has that covered. No good cloud vendor can survive without making and delivering on security promises, and they put huge focus on keeping data locked down.
  4. Delivering what’s new and what’s next: With so much on the horizon for the distribution industry, keeping track of it is hard enough—leveraging it is even harder. Luckily, cloud solutions were built to adapt with the market, helping you control your supply chain and ultimately, improve your bottom line.

The true cloud imperative: How to avoid falling into a faux cloud trap.

So how can you avoid getting trapped by fake clouds? Start by understanding what they are. Fake cloud software occurs when legacy applications are adapted and hosted on the internet, but never truly designed to be delivered and used via the cloud. Often, this means you will need additional products to access it, require hand-coded customization,costly, ineffective integrations, and poor scalability.

Ready to learn more? We invite you to download the entire True Cloud vs. Fake Cloud: How Distributors Can Tell the Difference guide to understand:

  • Three reasons mobile devices alone can’t meet the need for real-time information
  • Four ways the cloud can enhance productivity for distribution companies
  • Five reasons legacy applications don’t play well with the internet
  • Eight ways to identify true cloud software for distributors
  • Where to see true cloud software in action

Do you have the right software for distributors and other tools you need to succeed in the age of technology? Download the NexTec Corporate Overview Brochure to learn more about how NexTec can keep the gears moving throughout your organization.

Additional Distribution Resources

Distribution: Key metrics/KPIs for distribution

Distribution: How to control cash flow alongside product flow

How Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses

Overcoming growth challenges in distribution: Preparing for a strong 2020

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
growth challenges distribution industry

Companies in the distribution industry will face a wide variety of challenges meeting the needs of an increasingly savvy and demanding customer base.

Whether you’re adding SKUs, warehouses, or simply looking to grow your customer base and revenue, successfully growing your distribution business in 2020 may seem like a monumental task. An industry readying itself for disruption, increased competition, and calls for transparency, companies in this industry will face a wide variety of challenges meeting the needs of an increasingly savvy and demanding customer base.

The 2020 distribution outlook

Much like other industries, disruption is on the minds of distributors. As technology continues to improve, buyers expect the B2B purchasing experience to become more commoditized and similar to their B2C experiences, and your customers are finding new ways to use data to drive purchase decisions.

Three forces challenging the status quo.

A recent McKinsey article found that the coming year will see an acceleration to disruption coming from three forces—your competition, your customers, and your own supply chain.

Fast-moving digital players eyeing the industry’s trillion-dollar revenue pools have begun to offer more convenience and improved transparency. Paired with this, sophisticated customers armed with new data are demanding deeper discounts and better promotions on more commoditized products.

How to address this: Keep up with your customers and competition.

Transparency, speed, and responsiveness are all imperative to the way you run your business. Whether by thriving in the commoditized environment or by making the shift to provide even more value-add, whichever approach you take needs to be smarter.

With countless customer-SKU combinations and constant margin pressure from manufacturers on one end and customers on the other, it pays to use the right customer data at the right time. The best distributors equip sales staff to act as business partners who can identify customer pain points and co-create business solutions. To make this happen, you need to break down silos and empower your sales staff with the right information at the right time.

The right customer relationship management solution, integrated with your ERP and warehouse management solutions, can go a long way in providing your sales, marketing, and customer service staff with the right information to help customers. Better yet, it can provide your warehouse the ability to fill orders more quickly and ultimately give you more speed if you need to succeed in a commoditized environment. Check out the following resources to learn more:

Finding a way to maintain or increase margins

With increased competition, faster shipping expectations, and continued wage pressure, distributors need to find ways to make sure their products continue to work for them. Your ability to maintain or even increase profit margins in 2020 and beyond will become even more important. Success in the coming decade will rely on your ability to retain customers, replace departing ones, and deliver in a distribution environment that is increasingly transaction focused.

How to address this: Smarter scaling.

There are ways to address this, however. Scale will continue to be an important factor. Scale helps distributors gain purchasing power, create denser delivery routes, optimize warehouse locations, increase coverage of products and sales, and reduce redundancies.

However, knowing how, where, and when to scale is vital. Whether through mergers and acquisitions, focusing on specific products, or expanding your reach, each provides a way to increase margins if approached properly. There are many ways to approach this; an engaged leadership team, well-resourced integration office and functional teams, a rigorous cadence, and careful performance management top the list.

Also imperative to scale? An understanding of your current business. One tool to help you see the bigger picture is through business intelligence. Such a solution can provide better planning and inventory management, increased profit margins, and more control of delivery, accuracy, and customer service. We recently discussed this topic in a blog, ERP and business intelligence in the distribution industry.

New technologies

New data and advances in computing power, data storage, analytics, and mobile platforms are turning industries as varied as music and healthcare upside down. Wholesale distribution is not immune, of course. Predictive and prescriptive analytics are helping the most sophisticated customers and manufacturers use dynamic pricing, predict churn, and optimize workforces and capital.

How to address this: Embrace new technology yourself

While new entrants, current competition, and buyers are leveraging new technology, it’s important to recognize that you’re not excluded from the technological improvements.

Whether it’s in the form of automated warehouse operations to speed up delivery, an investment in the future of autonomous vehicles to replace an increasingly expensive shipping landscape, or software to automate, improve visibility, and increase control, there are many opportunities to stay ahead of the curve in the coming years.

One of the first steps to taking control of your distribution business is to leverage technology that empowers people, provides visibility, and accelerates your business, helping you move faster, identify opportunities for growth, and move on them.

Taking control of your distribution operations with ERP

Finding a flexible, user friendly, and innovative ERP solution can connect your business and help you grow. With the competitive landscape more intense than ever, the right ERP can go a long way in getting your business where you need it to be.

Acumatica provides accurate and timely information, as well as the functionality needed to readily resolve issues and update management and customers. Our modern distribution business software provides true, company-wide inventory data that lets you create proactive, responsive replenishment operations and minimize inventory costs.

As a leading provider of this powerful cloud ERP, NexTec Group can help you implement this software and use it to stand up to the competition in 2020 and beyond. With more than a dozen locations and nearly a quarter of a century of experience in the distribution industry, you will be in good hands. No matter how large you are or complex your needs, we would love to help. Let’s get in touch.

Digital transformation in the distribution industry

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
digital transformation distribution

Your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

Distribution is a tough business. High levels of competition, shrinking margins, and higher expectations make it easy to feel the pressure. The supply chain is changing and with this, so is the market. And guess what? You’re right in the middle of it.

Remaining competitive in distribution will rely on a variety of tactics and strategies, but if you’re looking to get and stay ahead, you will need to transform your business and find new ways to use data, analytics, and engagement.

For the distribution industry, whose members are already pressured by competition from everyone ranging from traditional competitors to firms including Amazon and Wal-Mart, your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

What is digital transformation?

One of those phrases that has gotten thrown around a lot in recent years has been the term “digital transformation.” A term that could include anything from going paperless in the office to a complete overhaul of the way your business operates, it all starts with understanding how to apply technology—something we discussed in a recent blog.

In the blog, we used definitions from Technopedia, finding that

“Digital transformation is the changes associated with digital technology application and integration into all aspects of human life and society. […] Digital tools and technology are changing how people interact, and in turn this changes how people do business. […] In a more business-related aspect, digital transformation refers to how a company has or is transforming its core business processes using digital technology in order to gain competitive advantage and gain differentiation in its market segment.”

However, there are also challenges for companies in every industry, as too many leaders think it’s both a standard process and a metamorphosis, and that they will walk into work one day with a ‘transformed’ business. This is not the case. Digital transformation not only differs from industry to industry, it differs from company to company.

Early steps for distributors looking to transform

Knowing this, it is helpful to find a starting point and early steps, including the process of identifying where you stand, what technologies you currently have, where you hope to be, and what actions you will need to take to get to your ideal state.

Knowing where your distribution firm and your supply chain stand

As mentioned above, digital transformations are happening at different levels across all industries. As the company who often connects manufacturers or other suppliers to retailers and in turn end users, you have watched both sides adopt new digital technologies in their own ways. While this has likely changed the way you’re working with them, your competitive advantage will be built on your ability to embrace the changes they have put on you.

Addressing this will require you to take a hard look at your current business practices, technologies, and understand how you will fit into the supply chain.

Looking at your technology stack

From the c-suite to the ground-floor employees, every team member should understand why adopting digital technologies, cloud ERP software and emerging technologies (e.g. IoT, AI, robotics, next gen security), is absolutely necessary for being able to exchange data across the organization. This information can then be used to make strategic, effective decisions, meeting modern expectations from across the supply chain, and innovation.

A solid technology foundation and a clear digital strategy—which includes asking the right questions, setting clear goals and the steps to achieving them, getting input from people throughout the organization, and providing ongoing informational and training sessions—will keep the transformation moving forward.

Understanding what you will need

The digital changes also provide a window for distribution companies to rethink business models. Companies need to consider whether they will become disruptive players or are at risk of being disrupted by upstarts or competitors.

For distribution companies, this starts with being able to understand your products better. How did they get there, where are they, and how do you get them to your customers? What’s profitable? How can we do something faster, cheaper, or better than our competitors?

As we discussed in an earlier blog, there are four key components to making a digital transformation a reality: cloud computing, mobile technologies, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics.

Making your move: Acumatica Cloud ERP delivers for distribution

Distribution management is Cloud ERP software that helps companies manage their supply chain and logistics activities, including warehouse management, inventory management, and order management (sales and purchase orders), and integrate these activities with the company’s financials and sales. With Acumatica Cloud ERP, distribution companies can leverage technology that empowers them, improving everything from cost control to order times, supplier relationships to customer satisfaction.

As a leading provider of Acumatica for distribution, NexTec can customize, implement, and integrate the solution, training your users and setting you up for success in a digital world. Get to know more about our work and contact us for a free consultation.

distribution KPIs

Distribution: Key metrics/KPIs for distribution

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
Distribution KPIs

Whether you are trying to see where you are or where you need to be, there are many types of KPIs you need to track when it comes to your distribution firm.

“The most valuable commodity I know of is information.” This quote from Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko, while not used by a moral or righteous character, is something that holds true for every business. Information matters, and no matter your industry, your ability to turn data into useful information is something that determines your success or failure now and in the future.

Unfortunately, with more and more data to measure and manage with each new supplier, customer, and product, it becomes harder for today’s distribution firm to get meaning from it.

In a world where too much data can be worse than having too little data, financial professionals often get buried in reports that they miss the important details and trends that indicate where the business is and where it’s heading.

Key performance indicators: The right information for each situation

As a finance professional, you abide by GAAP. You can answer the basic managerial needs—profit and loss, cash flow, inventory turns, and the like. However, there’s more to your business than just being able to measure necessary information and generate reports. This is where key performance indicators, or KPIs, come into play. These represent a wide variety of measurements unique to a specific industry, that can unlock the true health of a business and uncover previously unknown opportunities or challenges that traditional reporting measures fail to address.

Managing and tracking these, however, presents challenges with an ever-expanding pool of data. While new technologies such as the industrial internet of things (IIoT) present new levels of visibility, they also create more sources of data you need to track, often requiring finance professionals to spend more time trying to distill it into something useful.

Types of KPIs

Whether you are trying to see where you are or where you need to be, there are many types of KPIs you need to track.

Financial vs. Operational KPIs

Among the most common, as well as the easiest to track and understand KPIs are financial, as this is the most common language of business decisions. Common financial KPIs in every industry monitor sales, costs, margins, cash flow, and asset utilization.

However, for product-focused businesses like distribution in which relationships and reputation rely on on-time shipments and inventory availability, operational measures come into play. These metrics are inherently non-financial, but play a major role in the present and future of your business: transportation schedules, inventory, on-time delivery, backorders, customer service and more.

Historical and Predictive KPIs

In addition to this, KPIs can tell you not only where you’ve been, but where you are or may be heading.

Historical KPIs can be set up with alerts and warnings that monitor and detect exceptions, calling attention to issues or “push” alert messages sent via email or text.

On the other hand, predictive KPIs can make it easier to see where you may be heading at a glance. Leveraging internal and external data, these can help you order smarter and plan for where you need to be. Predictive KPIs for distribution may use economic indicators, demographic trends, or specific industry indicators.

The basics: Three things to track closely

When it comes to your distribution firm, it pays to know which items are being ordered, how fast each item is being shipped, and which items are profitable, with each of these accessible in real time:

  • Inventory turnover ratio: Shows the current status in the familiar ratio format as well as some key indicators that a purchasing manager might want to watch like open POs and purchasing trends.
  • On-time shipping ratio: Compares the on-time shipping performance for different warehouses, items, and trends. For example, are your warehouses getting better or worse at getting items shipped on time? Is it location-specific or systemic?
  • Profitability by item: Savvy distributors are well-advised to periodically review the relative profitability of customers, markets, channels and products as they formulate sales and distribution plans and budgets to optimize overall business plans and strategies. Being able to slice and dice information to see exactly who and what is profitable is a necessity.

Going further: More than out-of-the-box KPIs

Distribution ERP should be able to deliver these out of the box, but once you get comfortable, your business serves to benefit from finding relevant and customized KPIs, making it easy to generate new reports without a ton of additional labor. Out-of-the-box is one thing, but your system needs to be flexible enough to handle it and usable enough for each end user to generate reports without much extra coding.

Free guide: Selecting and utilizing KPIs that matter for your business

In a recent whitepaper, Acumatica explored even more about the KPIs for distribution companies, discussing how the right measurements can deliver a clearer picture of your business with less effort.

In “Key Performance Indicators for Distribution,” you’ll learn:

  • What historical and predictive KPIs can tell you about your business.
  • Which three distribution KPIs to track most closely.
  • Why out-of-the-box KPIs aren’t enough to improve performance.
  • How to systematize your KPI process.
  • The ideal number of KPIs to track on a daily basis.

Finding a distribution solution for your business: Get to know NexTec

NexTec Group specializes in helping a wide range of distributors to get what they need and want out of the solutions they use. No matter what unique focus your business has, we have the experience and expertise to deliver what you need. Get to know more about our work with Acumatica, read customer testimonials, and contact us for a free consultation.

Additional distribution resources

ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

Multi-warehouse woes: challenges in maintaining visibility

Distribution: How to control cash flow alongside product flow

Distribution Cash Flow

Distribution: How to control cash flow alongside product flow

By | Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
Distribution Cash Flow

Recent advancements in technology have empowered businesses to do more, leveraging tools that allow them to reshape and realign the accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP) functions and shared service center business processes.

Your job as a wholesale distribution business is to ensure product gets from your suppliers to your warehouses to your customers. An industry known for tight margins and high expectations from both customers and suppliers, everything in your business needs to flow.

While inventory is one part of this, something we discussed in our article on inventory control and fulfillment, it’s not the only element of your business that requires tracking and management, because with the movement of product comes the movement of money.

One of the oldest and most fundamental requirements for any business

Controlling the way that money flows into and out of your organization is a constant challenge, one that impacts your relationships with suppliers, reputation to customers, and ultimately your ability to generate profits now and in the future.

A process left largely unchanged for decades, recent advancements in technology have empowered businesses to do more, leveraging tools that allow them to reshape and realign the accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP) functions and shared service center business processes.

Three goals for improving money flow at the distribution business

For the distribution business, this means that there is a continued push to break down silos, embrace data analytics and business intelligence to improve decisions, and ultimately connect adjacent business functions to increase speed and decrease back-office costs. With the right processes and technologies in place, you can deliver the following benefits:

Break down silos

One of the biggest challenges for any company’s cash flow is siloed data. Not only do you have to combine the way money flows into and out of your organization, you need to align this information with adjacent functions as well. Treasury management, procurement, tax management, and so much more—if people have to spend hours or days just making sure the bills are paid using spreadsheets to connect data, your finance team is operating without the visibility they need.

With each additional location, currency, supplier, or even SKU you add, the time it takes to do even the bare minimum increases.

Connect systems

While there are many reasons silos exist, one of the most common symptoms is lack of integration. Too often, an organization’s back-office infrastructure resembles a “hair ball” of point solutions that talk to each other sporadically, if at all. “How much does my company owe to its suppliers?” “How much do my customers owe?”

The right technology not only allows you the ability to connect workflows to break down silos, it also provides you the right information when and where you need it by providing additional control over information flow and workflows.

Automate business processes

Whether it’s quote-to-cash, revenue recognition, or paying invoices, your distribution needs to make speed and accuracy a priority. Sadly, there are still thousands of companies of all sizes with manually driven workflows for some aspects of AR and AP. Held back by manual processes and emails, too many businesses lose sight of the big picture.

Paired with improved workflows and technologies, distribution businesses face an automation imperative that can only come when you can identify and rectify areas for improvement.

Curing your distribution firm’s cash flow woes with Enterprise Resource Planning

In order to bring together their operations, many businesses have looked to embrace modern technologies that can break down silos, provide a hub for connecting data, and automate traditionally manual processes in AP, AR, and more. As AR and AP are changing from serial processes and exception management to workflows with continuous audit and compliance, addressing the challenges will be a top priority for distribution firms in 2020 and beyond.

Enterprise Resource Planning applications have grown to deliver more and more certainty for distribution firms, who now leverage the cloud to connect various applications and create workflows that work. A recent IDC Marketscape report looked to address the role of ERP in AP and AR operations, noting the challenges your distribution firm may experience in connecting processes into a shared service center and comparing vendors on their ability to deliver. We invite you to read this informative report for free here.

Delivering on the cloud ERP benefits: NexTec and Acumatica Cloud ERP

For the growing distribution firm, you have many options—not only for the solution you choose, but the partner who takes you there. At NexTec Group, we understand the challenges your distribution firm faces and know how to help.

With more than a dozen locations and nearly a quarter of a century of experience in the distribution industry, you will be in good hands. No matter how large you are or complex your needs, we would love to help. Let’s get in touch.

Additional distribution resources

How Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses

Features to look for in a distribution management system

Rise of the Smart Factory: Implications for Distribution and Logistics

Warehouse worker walking down an aisle.

How Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
Warehouse with worker walking down hallway.

Gain real-time insights into your warehouse, sales and inventory with Acumatica’s distribution ERP.

Your distribution company needs an enterprise resource planning (ERP) product that reduces risk and provides the right information when it’s needed most.

The dynamic reality of the distribution business means that leaders need an ERP solution that provides real-time intelligence on key performance indicators. That means better decisions on distribution management, inventory control, order management and stock forecasting.

See below how Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses.

Common challenges in distribution

The distribution industry relies on its customers needing a steady flow of products. Yet the often-unpredictable changes in B2C or B2B demand can leave distributors with excess or insufficient inventory.

Supply chain management is another challenge for many in the distribution business. Automation is critical for the modern supply chain, using real-time alerts for better ordering and warehouse management.

Distribution relies on speed, so optimizing picking, labeling, compliance and shipping are important areas where better efficiency means improved profit margins.

These challenges are why distributors need ERP solutions that include functionality unique to the vertical. Ideally, your ERP should include business intelligence and CRM integrations, order management functions, fleet management, inventory management and shipping. Distributors offer end-to-end services, meaning they need more than the typical ERP provides.

Man in a business suit in a warehouse using his tablet.

Learn what’s in your warehouses at any time with warehouse and inventory management tools from Acumatica.

The Acumatica distribution ERP advantages

Acumatica understands the unique needs of distributors. The Acumatica Distribution Edition is designed to help companies with logistics and supply chain management. The Distribution Edition includes tools for:

  • Warehouse management
  • Inventory management
  • Requisition management
  • Sales order management
  • Purchase order management
  • Advanced financials

The ERP is fully integrated with Acumatica CRM, manufacturing, field service and project accounting solutions.

Here’s how Acumatica Distribution Edition can help your business.

  • Key Performance Indicators. Most businesses use common KPIs such as cash flow, sales and margins to measure performance at a point in time. Acumatica Distribution Edition includes dashboards and reports to highlight the KPIs that matter to distributors, including inventory turnover ratio for high- and low-turnover items, on-time shipping ratio and profitability by item.
  • Warehouse Management. Use barcode scanners and customized workflows to automate core warehouse functions, including picking, packaging, purchase order receiving, reshelving, transferring and counting. Workers can use preprinted smart scan sheets for hands-free operations while lot and serial number tracking reduces mistakes.
  • Inventory Management. Acumatica helps you know what’s in your warehouse at any moment. Tools allow you to segment inventory by class, know product availability across multiple warehouses, highlight out-of-date inventory and set reorder points. Use multiple valuation methods to manage costs accurately across multiple locations.
  • Sales Order Management. Integrate your sales workflows with automation tools that save time and improve customer experiences. Sales order management lets you configure alerts for status changes and predefine order types with inventory allocation rules for better workflows and document management. Not all vendors and customers are the same; the sales order management tools let you set up volume or quantity discount rules and preferred pricing.
  • Requisition Management. Eliminate paperwork with automation software that streamlines complex purchasing processes, including sales quotes, approvals, vendor bidding.

Acumatica’s distribution ERP is designed to solve your greatest business challenges. To get the most out of your ERP, choose the right Acumatica partner to guide the installation and use of your solution. NexTec helps distribution and manufacturing companies find and implement the right software to improve business processes. Give Acumatica a try to see how it can transform your distribution business.

Additional distribution resources

Distribution: Key metrics/KPIs for distribution

ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

Multi-warehouse woes: challenges in maintaining visibility

Woman warehouse employee with tablet and headset.

Distribution businesses need more than an ERP: Sage delivers

By | Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP, Sage X3, SOFTWARE | No Comments
Woman working in a warehouse.

Better distribution management software helps drive efficiency and better workflows throughout the organization.

Distribution companies need solutions that allow for accelerated supply chain processes, cost control and operational efficiencies. Staying competitive means using more than an enterprise resource planning (ERP) product.

Your business needs distribution management software that allows for better logistics, operations and inventory control. Sage X3 delivers a faster, more flexible and more comprehensive approach to distribution management. As a single, scalable solution, Sage X3 delivers the tools, analytics and functionality your distribution company needs to gain a competitive advantage.

See why distribution businesses need more than an ERP. Sage delivers and solves your most pressing business challenges.

What can Sage X3 do?

Distribution management is about eliminating complexity throughout the supply chain. Many distribution companies face significant challenges related to:

  • Uncertain supply
  • Shifting customer requirements
  • Decreasing margins
  • Enormous inventories
  • Reliance on manual tasks
  • Long lead times

Here is how Sage X3 addresses those business issues:

  • Increased visibility. Use the Sage solution to analyze all aspects of your business, including inventory, promotions, past purchases, quotes and conditions in real time. Real-time analytics, alerts and notifications give you enhanced ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer expectations.
  • Better workflow control. Use data transparency and a single source of information to transform your workflows. Connecting and accelerating the flow of information among sales, financials, warehousing and purchasing gets everyone on the same page. Create more efficiencies by using a shared understanding of costs and margins, resulting in more revenue, streamlined sales processes, better inventory accuracy and improved business and demand planning.
  • Improved operational efficiency. Too many distribution companies are still using spreadsheets, unconnected databases and paper to manage their operations. Gain more efficiency via real-time access to details from pending sales to inventory changes.
  • Scalability. As distribution companies grow, operational insights become more challenging. With a cloud-based Sage solution, companies can scale easily as business evolves.
  • Modernization. Companies are often reluctant to migrate to new technologies, leaving them stuck using legacy systems that are inefficient and are not integrated. Sage X3 provides an integrated solution to reduce costs for maintaining and patching older systems.
Warehouse employee typing on a desktop computer.

A recent study found that a typical Sage Enterprise Management can save on labor, customer service and inventory costs.

The business impacts of Sage Enterprise Management

In 2018, Forrester Consulting analyzed Sage customers’ business results to create a profile of a typical, composite organization using Sage X3. The composite company is one that operates as a global midsized enterprise and has used the Sage solution for three years.

Forrester found that the impacts of using Sage are:

  • 4.1 FTE positions saved
  • 2,600 hours in customer service issues saved
  • A 10 percent reduction in inventory levels
  • $1.59 million in financial benefit
  • A 237 percent return on investment, with a payback period of four months

Choosing Sage X3 is a smart choice for your distribution company. At NexTec, we help companies migrate legacy tools to Sage, providing the expertise to ensure a seamless transition that lets your company gain the competitive advantage it deserves.

See how NexTec can tailor your Sage X3 to your needs.

Additional distribution resources

6 ways food and beverage manufacturers use digital tech for recall management

How to create 2019 costs in Sage X3

ERP and Business Intelligence in the Distribution Industry

ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Dashboards and KPIs, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP, Warehouse management | No Comments
ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

The right ERP solution for distribution is essential. Pair it with a BI solution and you can get that bird’s eye view you need to make your business really shine.

Your warehouses, inventory, and business generate a lot of data. When all this data enters your supply chain, it can quickly overwhelm both you and your vendors. Unfortunately, for distribution businesses whose success relies on their ability to deliver products to customers in a timely manner, a mountain of data can harm visibility, reduce timeliness, and ultimately slow the business to a halt.

To solve the problem, you need to have the right tools and skilled data analysts to guide your data through the system in a way that makes decision making easier and decisions smarter. Distributors that turn to dashboards, analytics, and business intelligence (BI) software integrated with ERP and other key internal systems are able to unlock the secret value hidden in their data and make wise choices based on what they learn.

The many benefits of BI for the distribution industry

Business intelligence brings together a wide range of data from a wider variety of sources. Those in distribution know first-hand how difficult it can be to combine sales, finance and invoicing data from multiple warehouses, vendors and partners. BI software can help solve the problem by pulling the data together so that it is easily accessible and makes sense.

Link your BI software with your ERP software and you have a tool that can help you make instant and powerful changes that will put your business on the path to greater success.

Here are 3 key benefits to combining BI with ERP software.

1. Better planning and inventory management

A powerful inventory management solution is key to maintaining stock, planning for variability, and minimizing inventory costs. But if the people running your warehouse aren’t “data” people, you may never know how well your inventory is being managed.

Enter business intelligence. Rather than forcing these non-financial people to adapt and adjust to the complexities of an ERP solution, you can provide information at their fingertips with customized dashboards and readily available insights. Dashboards can be customized by role, by user, or by position and keep the people on the front lines informed in real time.

By making data more accessible, accurate, and understandable, you can improve planning, ordering, and much more. Get to know more about the benefits of integration and its role in managing complexity by reading our blog, “The Need to Know is Always Now in Warehousing and Distribution.”

2. Increased profit margins

Distribution operates as a low-margin, high-volume business. Any ding or dent in your profits will impact the bottom line much more quickly than another business. And there are so many ways those dings can happen – inventory storage costs, customer preference changes, reputation hits from lack of inventory. You need a clear picture not only of your inventory situation, but how inventory decisions will impact finances.

BI software can take a wide range of data out of your other systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Inventory Management, ERP, and more, and give you intuitive drill-down functionality that you can access from anywhere at any time. Want to know what your most profitable product is this month? Want to understand how each warehouse is performing? Want to know which warehouse is the best location for a specific product? Learn all this and more from your BI solution while at your desk, at a café with your laptop, or on your way to work with your mobile device.

Learn more about how ERP empowers you to keep up with changes in the supply chain here.

3. Reduced delivery time, fewer issues, happier customers

A distributors’ profits connect directly to well controlled inventory and warehouses. One of the most common places that profits can take a hit is through lost sales and returns. Customers are less tolerant of mistakes than ever before. So, when the wrong item is shipped, or the item is defective, the customer does not care if it was your shipping firm or 3PL that dropped the ball, they will blame you. Get it right always and your customers will love you for it.

By integrating your processes and systems with BI software, you can gain a clearer understanding of what went wrong, where it went wrong, how to rectify it and keep it that way —before your reputation takes a hit.

Pair your ERP with BI to make your distribution business a success

The right ERP solution for distribution is essential. Pair it with a BI solution and you can get that bird’s eye view you need to make your business really shine. NexTec Group consultants have been helping distribution companies select and implement ERP, BI and CRM for a quarter century. If you believe 2019 is the year that you truly take control of your supply chain, let’s talk. We’re here to help.

Additional distribution resources

Streamline supply chain management with a ERP solution

The need to know is always now in warehousing & distribution

Why inventory control is a must and how to do it

Distribution Multi-Location Visibility

Multi-warehouse woes: challenges in maintaining visibility

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP, Warehouse management | No Comments
Distribution Multi-Location Visibility

Distribution firms with good visibility into their operations, inventory, and financials are able to deliver on the promises they make to customers.

Distribution firms pride themselves on being able to provide customers with the products they need—when and where they need them. Often, this means multiple warehouses across states lines, shipping zones, or international borders. There are many benefits to employing a multi-warehouse strategy for your distribution, but alongside these benefits comes a wide range of challenges.

Benefits and challenges of running a multi-warehouse distribution firm

Does the decision to open additional warehouses reduce your shipping costs, reduce your delivery time, and allow you to handle more SKUs? Yes. However, with the benefits that this strategy brings, it also makes it much more challenging to maintain accurate stock counts, ensure that ordering goes smoothly, handle taxes and currency, maintain control over inventory storage costs, and much more.

That said, we would like to turn our attention to one of the biggest challenges that exists in maintaining a multi-warehouse distribution center: Visibility.

Distribution firms with good visibility into their operations, inventory, and financials are able to deliver on the promises they make to customers.

While the decision to add new locations is an investment that can pay for itself in a variety of ways, it also represents a significant increase in labor, capital, and operating expenses. Added to this, the decision to open another facility requires new systems and processes to route and ship orders. Now, rather than simply sending an order down for fulfillment, you have to forward the order to the proper facility, who in turn has to fill it.

This makes it very easy to end up with mixed messages, inefficiencies, or stock-outs at one location, which ultimately results in your firm losing the efficiencies that come from opening the second location in the first place.

How to deliver visibility across multiple warehouses

Whether you are opening your second, twentieth, or two-hundredth warehouse, visibility is always a concern. However, with integrated ERP solutions, you can bring together the data you need to control inventory, increase profitability, decrease costs, and increase satisfaction.

This, of course, requires proper planning and execution to control inventory, gain a single version of the truth, and see a clearer picture of your warehouse operations. In order to embrace the true benefits that visibility can provide for your growing distribution business, businesses like yours are turning to enterprise resource planning software to take control and gain the visibility they need—no matter how many locations they have.

Acumatica provides accurate and timely information, as well as the functionality needed to readily resolve issues and update management and customers. Our modern distribution business software provides true, company-wide inventory data that lets you create proactive, responsive replenishment operations and minimize inventory costs.

You’ll also experience better decision-making with more timely and accurate financial data through Acumatica’s Financial Management software, which includes the core set of financial applications, fully integrated with customer management and operational software for distributors and wholesalers.

The benefits of our cloud ERP software can be seen in:

  • Improving customer satisfaction while minimizing cost: Efficiently manage distribution processes with real-time visibility of available inventory, inventory in transit, reorder quantities, and inventory costs. Minimize inventory and costs; optimize quoting, acceptance, entry, and fulfillment processes.
  • Reducing order times: Eliminate delays through automated sales order processing and shipping order generation. Set rules to manage multiple warehouses, returns, credit limits, drop shipments, and more.
  • Knowing where your business is: Ensure a steady supply of materials by optimizing and automating your purchasing process.
  • Knowing your true costs: Determine real-time profitability by warehouse, product line, location, or business unit. Use real-time information to control costs across the entire supply and distribution chain.

In the coming months, we look forward to discussing even more of the challenges that multi-location distribution firms like yours face and explore how Acumatica can help your company to overcome these challenges. At NexTec Group, we understand your pain points and know how to help. With more than a dozen locations and nearly a quarter of a century of experience in the distribution industry, you will be in good hands. No matter how large you are or complex your needs, we would love to help. Let’s get in touch.