Multi-Warehouse Woes: Challenges in Maintaining Visibility across Multiple Locations

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

Warehousing and distribution companies pride themselves in being able to provide customers with the products they need when and where they need them. Because warehousing and distribution business is demand-driven, this often means that most companies require multiple warehouses across various state lines, shipping zones or international borders. Any seasoned distributor knows the challenges of employing a multi-warehouse strategy for distribution, but the benefits of this type of approach far outweigh these challenges.

Below, we discuss both the challenges and benefits of running a multi-warehouse strategy for distribution and how cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can help increase visibility across locations and provide you with the insight you need to grow your business. 

The Benefits and Challenges of a Multi-Warehouse Strategy

The benefits of opening additional warehousing and distribution centers are clear: you can reduce shipping costs, reduce delivery time and handle more SKUs. But additional locations also makes it much more challenging to maintain accurate stock counts, ensure accurate order processing, efficiently handle taxes and currency and maintain control over inventory storage costs.

Multi-Location operations require increased visibility.

The root of all these challenges can be grouped into one overarching issue most distributors struggle with daily: visibility. 

Warehousing and distribution organizations with good visibility into their operations, inventory, financials and supply chain management 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. In addition to these challenges, the decision to open multiple facilities requires the implementation of new systems and processes to route and ship orders. Now, instead of having one fulfillment department responsible for every order, multiple fulfillment teams at multiple locations will have to communicate with each other to ensure accuracy and efficiency.

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

How to Increase Visibility across Multiple Warehouses

Whether you are opening your second, 20th or 200th warehousing or distribution facility, visibility between locations is always a concern. With the help of integrated ERP software, however, you can bring together data from across your entire organization to better control inventory, increase profitability, reduce costs and increase customer and supplier satisfaction.

Cloud ERP software integrates operational processes at all of your locations into one solution, providing you with accurate real-time information that helps you better manage your business, anticipate issues and resolve challenges as they occur. Software designed for the distribution industry helps businesses like yours gain complete visibility into their inventory levels from multiple locations, which helps them create proactive workflows for replenishment processes and minimize inventory costs.

But increased visibility into your operations does more than help with just your inventory management processes. The benefits of a cloud-based ERP solution can also help your distribution company:

  • Improve customer satisfaction while minimizing costs

Efficiently manage distribution processes with real-time visibility into available inventory, inventory in transit, reorder quantities and inventory costs. You can also optimize quoting, acceptance, entry and fulfillment processes.

  • Reduce 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.

  • Anticipate future business 

Take a consumer demand-driven approach to ensure a steady supply of materials by optimizing and automating your purchasing process.

  • Understand your true costs

Determine real-time profitability by drilling down on data based on warehouse, product line, location or business unit. Use real-time information to control costs across the entire supply and distribution chain.

Solutions like Acumatica Cloud ERP help distribution companies automate processes and reduce errors in purchasing, order fulfillment, inventory tracking and customer support. By embracing a robust and flexible solution to manage all of your finance, operations, supply chain and distribution processes in one place, you can transform your business and ensure success. To learn more about how Acumatica can work for your distribution business, reach out to us. We’d love to chat.

Construction worker tightening a bolt.

Acumatica’s benefits for distribution, construction, professional and field service

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Construction, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP, Field Services, Professional Services | No Comments
Construction worker tightening a bolt.

Acumatica software helps manage construction costs and provide real-time insights on projects.

Operational efficiency is essential as businesses look to reduce costs and increase output. Simplifying operational complexity can have a dramatic positive impact on your bottom line.

Having the right Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution helps keep your data, employees and operations organized, in sync and performing optimally.

Acumatica is Cloud ERP solution that allows companies to improve their operations in many areas, including distribution, professional services, field services and construction. Acumatica provides unique, function-specific tools that help improve operations in each of those key areas.

Benefits of Acumatica

Acumatica is a leading provider of ERP software designed to automate core functions, reduce data entry and provide a 360° view of customers and processes. It offers exceptional solutions to companies looking to:

  • Streamline operations
  • Automate back-office functions
  • Access real-time information from anywhere and on any device
  • Grow their business with a scalable business platform that can reduce the burden on internal IT resources
Plumber repairing a faucet on a sink.

Efficient distribution systems help dispatch repair teams and lead to better levels of customer satisfaction.

Acumatica and distribution

Your distribution management software is the way to keep customers satisfied, transportation on schedule and inventory under control.

The Acumatica – Distribution Edition helps to manage your supply chain and logistics, from the warehouse to inventory control to order management.

By connecting key data and employees to warehouse management, supply chain management, ordering, distribution, sales and marketing, businesses can see in real-time the status of orders, products, and production. Integrating those functional areas with financial systems and employees gives clear, real-time insights on productivity and logjams.

The distribution applications include:

  • Advanced inventory management
  • Sales order management
  • Purchase order management
  • Requisition management
  • Advanced financials
  • Advanced fulfillment

Here are the main advantages of Acumatica’s distribution management solution:

  • Reduced order times. By automating sales order processing and shipping order creation, your business reduces the time it takes to complete, process and ship each order. Customized rules allow for better management of multiple warehouse locations, returns, drop shipments, and credit limits.
  • Supply management. Automating your purchasing process keeps materials on hand when needed.
  • Better customer satisfaction. Provide customers and support teams with real-time visibility of inventory on location or in transit, reorder amounts, and inventory expenses.
  • Know true costs. Understand detailed profitability metrics by location, product line, warehouse, and business unit in real-time.

Acumatica and professional services

Service industry companies succeed in delighting their clients with insights, information, and results that help address critical needs. For professional services firms, that means acquiring new business, managing projects, and delivering on time.

The Acumatica – Service Edition gives your company a 360-degree view of customer requests, projects, and activities. It provides a seamless, integrated, and transparent view of work being done, status reports, and costs.

Professional services firms need to focus on three pillars of profitability to make a profound impact on their clients’ lives and businesses.

  • Two-way communication that includes active listening
  • A clear understanding of needs, pressures, obstacles, and opportunities
  • Exceptional execution and delivery of what is expected, ideally before the due date and on or under budget

The right ERP solution helps professional services firms achieve those important goals that create stronger business relationships, positive recommendations and reviews, and repeat business. The right solution needs to manage time and financial resources with automated business processes, document management, real-time analytics, and mobile workflows. Your ERP should make it easy for customers, and the employees working on their behalf, to contact, communicate, and get answers quickly.

Acumatica’s professional services solution integrates the following applications:

  • Customer management
  • Project accounting
  • Project cost tracking
  • Financial management
  • Employee time and expense management
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Sales order management
  • Purchase order management
  • Materials requirement planning (MRP)
  • Service and support automation
  • Deferred revenue accounting

For your customers, having these tools available provides significant added value and differentiates your firm from the competition. You’ll also reduce the total cost of ownership by consolidating the most essential business processes in one integrated solution.

Acumatica and field services

Many businesses rely heavily on field services to maintain, monitor, explore, serve, or deliver to customers. With more remotely deployed employees, and the customers they serve, you need solutions that can access, collect, store, display, and analyze information.

Integrating your dispatch services with other available information, reducing response times, and lowering costs all have a major impact on your bottom line and customer retention.

The Acumatica – Field Service Edition works seamlessly and integrates with your sales, marketing, CRM, financial reporting, inventory, purchasing and accounting functions.

Together, these tools give you a complete, 360-degree view of customer activities, interactions, and needs. Improve the overall customer experience while improving customer satisfaction scores, increase your recurring revenue opportunities, and providing your customers with interactions with your brand that set you apart from your competition.

The Acumatica field service management applications are web-based and mobile-friendly, giving you and your employees seamless integration of information in real-time. What’s more, the field services management tools are integrated into Acumatica’s ERP, meaning there are no awkward transitions or clunky functionality as with other third-party add-on options.

Here are the major advantages to the Acumatica Field Services Management Edition:

  • Integrated scheduling, dispatching, and call center. You can capture service needs quickly, access customer information, provide product history, and pinpoint resources needed for fast and accurate response. Automatically create daily or weekly schedules or use drag-and-drop functions on a digital dispatch board with clear indicators of order status.
  • Use on multiple devices. The Acumatica solution works on all mobile devices with a connected browser, including Android and Apple iOS apps (for iPad). Service technicians can access service information and customer data.
  • Improve equipment maintenance. Your Acumatica solution records the history of each machine or piece of equipment at each customer site and tracks available inventory. Integrated with sales and finance, this tool tracks each step for each piece of equipment – quoting, order, delivery, installation, and service work. It also tracks manufacturer, model and configuration and can automatically schedule maintenance.
  • Optimized inventory management. Your tools and equipment could be anywhere – in trucks, warehouses, garages, or customer sites. Gain control and track the location of each tool, resulting in faster service, improved reordering and replenishment functions, and logistics.
  • Manage service contracts and warranties. Service contracts are a valuable revenue source. Automated dashboards can alert service and sales teams of expiring contracts and coordinate appointments. Warranty management tools integrate warranties with other functions, giving you and your customers a clear indicator of timing, covered parts and services, and ensures billing accuracy.
  • Track project costs. Understand the true costs of small or large installation projects, tracking the people, equipment, time, and materials used.
  • Improve collaboration. Collaboration is at the heart of ERP solutions. With field services applications, your sales, customer services, and remote techs can work together to understand and resolve issues faster communicate customer concerns and gain a deeper understanding of other functions.

Acumatica and construction

Track information, understand project costs in real-time and provide crucial information to requisition, purchasing, and finance teams with the Acumatica – Construction Edition.

This end-to-end system includes apps for project management, accounting, job costs, contracts, subcontracts, commitments, compliance, and retainage. Among the major advantages are:

  • Device neutrality. Your employees will use the same software across computers, laptops, tablets, or phones.
  • Integrated functionality. Modern APIs allow for seamless integration with our construction apps, including Hyphen Solutions, Procore, and Smartsheet.
  • Better decisions. Once data is entered, it’s updated everywhere immediately and accessible by all users. There is a unified, single source of truth for all.
  • Improved access. Share real-time information with customers, suppliers, subcontractors, or staff, including self-service dashboards, portals, and reports.
  • Enhanced cost control. With more information available in the moment of need, your construction projects can have better profit margins and clearer control from estimating to close-outs.

The right Acumatica partner

NexTec helps companies in multiple industries, including distribution, professional services, and field services, to improve their operations and reduce expenses with ERP software. NexTec’s teams of consultants and technical experts bring extensive product and industry knowledge to their work.

If you are looking for ERP software, NexTec can help you identify your key requirements and select the right ERP solution for your business. After the right ERP solution is sound, we will help with the ERP implementation, including installation, data, and system migration and employee training, ensuring that there is a seamless and smooth transition that minimizes disruption.

We have extensive knowledge and expertise with Acumatica. Learn why Acumatica is rated highest among cloud core financial suites and how NexTec can deliver great returns on your technology investment.

Take the Acumatica software tour and discover how to lower your operational costs and boost performance.

Supply Chains Under Stress: Best practices to manage your inventory

Webcast: Supply Chains Under Stress: Best practices to manage your inventory (recorded webcast)

By | Distribution / Supply Chain, Events, Recorded webcasts | No Comments

Supply chain disruptions have been a huge challenge so far in 2020. To manage this volatile time, businesses need to implement warehouse best practices with their people, their processes, and their technology.

In our webcast, we joined up with Russ Graf from NETSTOCK for a special session on what distributors, manufacturers, and retailers can do right now to weather the storm. We’ll look at how to optimize supply chain operations and mitigate risks, including useful tips and perspectives that you can use right away.

Here are some key points that we covered:

  • What we learned from the supply chain shocks caused by Covid-19
  • The disruptions that regularly affect supply chains
  • How to leverage communication and process to deal with disruptions
  • Deep dive into inventory replenishment and demand forecasting
  • Best practices to implement to secure your supply chain operations

Helpful resources

Contact us

Warehouse worker walking down an aisle.

How Acumatica helps manage distribution

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 software.

Wholesalers and distributors need Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to help them reduce risk and provide real-time intelligence on key performance indicators (KPIs). Data in real-time means better decisions on distribution management, inventory control, order processing, order management, and stock forecasting.

Learn more about how Acumatica data-driven insights help distribution businesses.

Common challenges in distribution

Distributors industry rel on customers needing a steady flow of products. Yet 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 modern supply chain wholesalers and distributors that need real-time alerts for better ordering and warehouse management.

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

These challenges are why distributors need a top-notch ERP distribution system that can help them manage their supply chain and logistics. Ideally, your ERP application should include inventory management, order management, fleet management, order processing, shipping, and integration with CRM and business intelligence.

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.

Choose Acumatica to manage your distribution

Acumatica Cloud ERP – Distribution Edition is built to help you manage your logistics and supply chain, improve customer satisfaction, reduce order times, and control costs. The Distribution Edition is cloud-based and fully integrated with manufacturing, field service, project accounting, and Acumatica CRM. The Distribution Edition includes:

  • Warehouse management
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Requisition management
  • Sales order management
  • Order processing
  • Purchase order management
  • Advanced financials

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 with 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 reduce mistakes.
  • Inventory Management. Acumatica helps you know what’s in your warehouse at any moment. With Inventory Management, you can segment inventory by class, know product availability across multiple warehouses, highlight out-of-date stock, 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. With Sales Order Management, you can set up status change alerts and predefine order types with inventory allocation rules for better workflows, order processing, and document management. You can also set up volumes, quantity discounts, and preferred pricing for individual customers.
  • Requisition Management. Eliminate paperwork with automation software that streamlines complex purchasing processes, including sales quotes, approvals, and vendor bidding.

Acumatica – Distribution Edition is designed to solve your most significant business challenges. NexTec Group is a gold-certified Acumatica partner and has deep experience in ERP implementation. If you are a wholesaler, distributor, or manufacturer, we can help you streamline your distribution processes and get up and running with Acumatica. Learn how to manage your distribution business in the Cloud today. Manage your business in the cloudAdditional distribution resources

Distribution: Key metrics/KPIs for distribution

ERP and Business Intelligence in the distribution industry

Multi-warehouse woes: challenges in maintaining visibility

Warehouse worker taking note of supplies.

4 ways ERP improves productivity for distributors and wholesalers

By | Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
Worker looking at supplies on shelves.

How can ERP promote productivity for distributors?

With the supply chain turned on its head, many distributors are trying to find ways to go back to business as usual, but longer, unpredictable delivery times slow down incoming shipments and the entire process of receiving, organizing, and distributing goods to clients.

The challenges are multiplied by a complex supplier network, each supplier facing its own unique challenges with their supply chains.

There isn’t much that distributors can do about playing the waiting game with suppliers. But the good news is that distributors can find cost-savings internally. Now is the time to streamline efficiencies in inventory tracking, order fulfillment, and labor management.

Let’s explore a few of the productivity-boosting benefits of ERP that can help distributors compensate for supply chain delays.

Take control of inventory and ordering

With a modern ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, distributors can keep track of inventory in real-time and make smarter ordering decisions. You can set low-level alerts that notify you when it’s time to reorder so you can get ahead of the game and keep your clients’ most in-demand products in stock. A top-notch ERP can also help you prevent over-ordering that takes up valuable warehouse space for products you don’t need.

Reduce delays in order fulfillment

ERP systems can automate order fulfillment activities that were once performed manually to save time and money and prevent costly errors. From processing orders to invoicing customers, companies can set up their own rules to manage everything from credits and returns, drop shipping, and even orders that involve multiple warehouses.

Shipping boxes on belts.

Time is essential in maintaining customer satisfaction.

Automate processes and save money

ERP helps distributors automate tasks and eliminates some of the manual activities performed in a distribution warehouse, which can reduce labor costs. ERP’s real-time data access can further minimize redundancy, ensuring each employee is focused on value-adding activities and not handling tasks that have already been completed. Automation also frees up labor hours so your staff can focus on higher-level tasks.

Unify systems for growth and innovation

One of ERP’s inherent benefits is uniting various business systems and functions that once operated in silos. For example, accounting, inventory, operations, and supplier management can be integrated into a single platform that gives you a holistic view of your operations. You can see the data in real-time and learn what you can do to get more efficiency out of your distribution process and maximize profit and productivity.

How Acumatica and NexTec is bringing productivity back to wholesale distribution

Acumatica Cloud ERP – Distribution Edition streamlines your distribution processes and helps manage inventory levels, sales ordering, pricing, shipping, sourcing, and billing. All your information is in one secure location. Because it lives in the Cloud, Acumatica gives you and your team anytime, anywhere access from any device to ensure flexibility, efficiency, and continuity of operations. With accurate, real-time data at your fingertips, issues can be identified early and addressed quickly.

As a gold-certified Acumatica implementation partner, NexTec Group can get your distribution or wholesale business up and running quickly, so that you can be productive and on the road to success, even during a pandemic.

Discover how ERP is closing the gaps in supply chain inefficiency. Take the Acumatica software tour.

Two people in a warehouse.

Managing credit terms with suppliers in your distribution business

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
Two people in a warehouse.

Securing trade credit from your suppliers helps your distribution business maintain positive cash flow and great vendor relationships.

Credit management is a sound investment for any business, no matter where they are in the supply chain.

In distribution, offering credit to suppliers gives them financial flexibility to make money, which in turn allows your business to earn more profits. The same goes for your business when seeking credit from your own vendors and suppliers.

Business credit comes with risks and opportunities. It also means having the right distribution business software for managing credit with suppliers in your distribution business as part of a bigger picture in vendor or customer management.

The pros and cons of trade credit

Trade credit is a business-to-business agreement that allows for the purchase of goods and services without paying cash up front. Typically, these agreements allow suppliers to pay 30, 60 or 90 days after an invoice is issued. It’s a way for suppliers to finance purchases on credit by deferring payment, often to account for cash flow variances.

Here are some of the core advantages for distributors:

  • Better Cash Flow. Pay your suppliers after you’ve sold your goods, reducing your risk and allowing you to ride periods of financial instability
  • Ensure Supply. You can reduce the risk of not having a regular supply of goods if demand spikes by conserving cash flow and having access to sought-after goods
  • Better Insights. Suppliers are more likely to provide you with market information on trends related to your products if they are relying on you to pay on future sales
  • Improved Creditworthiness. By demonstrating reliable payback patterns, you raise your creditworthiness with vendors and have good credit references

On the other side, trade credit does carry some risk. Penalties can be steep if you miss repayment times. This can hurt your credit rating down the road. And if cash flow becomes an issue due to declining sales, you can find yourself in a deep hole.

Woman wearing a yellow hard hat and reflective vest while holding a clipboard.

Trade credits can be beneficial to all parties in the distribution business if managed well with the right ERP solution.

Managing distribution trade credits

With Acumatica’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, your accounts payable operation gains access to shared data, customizable tools and integrated management of cash flow and credit. It’s the distribution ERP that helps your business manage money and relationships.

Among the core features in Acumatica’s distribution ERP accounts payable software are solutions that ensure invoices are paid and vendor relationships are strong. It’s all accessible via the cloud and a connected web browser.

Top Acumatica accounts payable features include:

  • Vendor Prepayments
  • Prepaid Expense Recognition
  • Automated Approval and Payment
  • Automated Use Tax, Withholding Tax and VAT Functions
  • Vendor Payment Processing
  • AP Linking of Vendors to Accounts in the General Ledger
  • Currency Management
  • Automated Recurring Bill Generation
  • Vendor Refund Management
  • AP Aging Reports
  • 1099 Reporting
  • Vendor Account Security
  • Audit Trail Management
  • Source Document Management

With advanced automation solutions, Acumatica offers key advantages to your accounts payable business, including:

  • Streamlined Processes. Approve invoices, create process flows and create optimized workflows that reduce reliance on manual operations
  • Optimized Payments. Prevent late fees and leverage vendor discounts with payments that align to your cash flows
  • Error Reduction. Intuitive user screens allow for productive, efficient and accurate data entry

NexTec works with distributors to select, install and optimize business software. Let NexTec help you find the right distribution ERP that keeps cash flows and vendor relations at peak performance levels.

Ready to learn more? Give Acumatica a try.

Unlocking the power of data in distribution: Don’t get buried by an ever-expanding pool of data

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain | No Comments
data in distribution

When distribution data is managed and understood, it can benefit your company, improve your relationships, and facilitate growth. But what goes into making your data work for you?

Winter is here, which for some means snow. Break out the snowplows, shovels, and snow blowers; snow happens, and you can’t just wait for it to melt—at least if you hope to go anywhere.

For distribution firms, snow is bad enough, creating logistical nightmares in its wake. Luckily, snow melts. Unmanaged data, on the other hand, just keeps building up.

Left unchecked, this ever-expanding pool of data can become unwieldly, slowing your business down and hurting your ability to serve customers. As the data stacks up at your business, the competition is heating up outside of it, making it more important than ever to clear up the blind spots, connect the supply chain, and work smarter than ever.

That said, when distribution data is managed and understood, it can benefit your company, improve your relationships, and facilitate growth. But what goes into making your data work for you?

You can’t measure what you can’t see. Common challenges holding distributors back.

For many distribution firms, the first challenge in overcoming their data challenges is to know just how tall the ‘snow pile’ is. Businesses lose sight of inventory and processes for a variety of reasons, but the most likely culprits are manual processes and disconnected systems.

Paper, spreadsheets, and email

Overreliance on paper, spreadsheets, and email isn’t only slow, it creates a blind spot for distribution businesses. For those looking to improve their ability to track data, the first place to look is the file folder. Why? Because you shouldn’t be relying on one.

A surprising amount of businesses still rely on paper-based processes, printing out paperwork for orders and projects, faxing invoices and checks, scanning data into the system, and hoping they can keep track of it all. This presents a variety of problems.

  • First, it’s expensive and time consuming. Those businesses still relying on outdated processes are paying their staff to waste hours every single week completing tasks they shouldn’t be worrying about.
  • Second, it’s inaccurate. Spreadsheets are breeding grounds for errors, and it’s incredibly easy to make a mistake when hand-keying information into a document. One mistake can set off the entire formula.
  • Third, it’s hard to track. Scanning a document into a computer, routing an email to a warehouse, and hoping the right person saw it is just that—a strategy based on hope.

By eliminating paper and spreadsheets and reducing reliance on email for important processes, you can begin to track how data stacks up at your organization and take steps to control it.

The application hairball

Another challenge that businesses face when trying to make sense of the data they have is something that can best be described as an ‘application hairball,’ a mess of separate products that are tangled together—but still disconnected.

For those in the distribution industry, this is often one of the most pressing issues; data from inventory management exists, data from CRM exists, and data from ERP exists—in three separate places. So where do they turn? Back to spreadsheets and emails.

However, those on the leading edge are able to untangle this mess of applications that can’t talk to each other, connect the processes, and facilitate the management. A distribution-focused ERP can make this happen. To manage their supply chain and logistical activities successfully, distributors should consider implementing a true cloud distribution ERP solution, one that is able to handle their warehouse, inventory, and order management processes while simultaneously connecting these activities with their financials and sales.

Getting from disparate to data-driven: How to start using your distribution data.

Once you get rid of the first challenges, the next step is to start making your data work for you. How? It all starts with knowing what to measure and being able to track what’s happening.

Know what to measure

The ability to make sense of the data you’re generating is one thing—knowing the what, why, and how of this information is another. There’s more to your business than revenue, profit and loss, and cash flow, you should be able to understand how this information came to be.

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, exist to answer this, representing a variety of measurements important to a specific industry designed to unlock the true health of a business and uncover previously unknown opportunities or challenges that traditional reporting measures fail to address.

However, not all KPIs are created equal—some metrics matter more than others, some are easier to track, and others are great for predicting where you will stand a year from now. Learn more about tracking KPIs for business growth here.

Improve your understanding

If you’re in the finance department, charts are your friend. What about the people who didn’t spend their college days learning about GAAP? Even if it makes sense to you, present most people with something unstructured and their eyes will glaze over.

However, by structuring data (including the aforementioned KPIs) and presenting it in a way that’s useful for anyone who needs it, your business can work faster and your people can make smarter decisions.

Distributors that turn to dashboards, analytics, and business intelligence (BI) software integrated with an ERP system 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. Reports that used to take hours are now automatically calculated in real time, helping distributors to improve planning, increase profit margins, and enhance customer relationships.

The right ERP solution for your distribution business.

The right ERP solution for distribution is essential. When you pair this with other necessary applications you will have a solution that can put you on a path that allows you to not just survive, but thrive. NexTec Group consultants have been helping distribution companies select and implement ERP, BI and CRM for a quarter century. If you believe 2020 is the year that you truly take control of your supply chain, let’s talk. We’re here to help.

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.