How to Pick the Best Import Export Distribution Software

Danielle Lobo

Choosing the best import export software for your distribution business can be a cumbersome task for any company, but can get even more complicated when industry specific functionality is needed.  Many systems include basic accounting, inventory and customer management functionality, which may help your business operate on a day-to-day basis, however manually handling industry specific processes without the use of a proper system won’t allow your business to effectively compete within the industry. Choosing the best system for your import export business will not only mean evaluating vendors with the industry specific functionality you need but also determining which vendors can provide other industry specific benefits.

In terms of functionality there are various components that are important within import export software.  These include landed cost tracking, multi-currency functionality and automated customs processing.  However, aside from functionality it is important to evaluate vendors on their level of support, customer satisfaction and of course software costs.

ERP Functionality to Look For

Landed Cost Tracking

Landed cost tracking is extremely important for importers to allow for accurate inventory costing. Proper landed cost tracking will allow you to accrue costs associated with bringing items into inventory, such as brokerage, duty and freight. Without taking landed costs into consideration you may be selling items at what appears to be a profit, only to later discover that they were sold at a loss (or a significantly smaller margin). Software with robust landed cost tracking is vital for importers. With detailed cost information you can then determine the appropriate margin and selling price for each product.




When dealing with customers and vendors in countries all over the world, multi-currency capabilities are important, for properly incorporating exchange differences into your product costs and prices. A multi-currency system will allow you to specify different prices for each item depending on the customer’s currency, and automatically account for differences in exchange rates between transaction and settlement dates. It’s important to always know how much your customers owe you in the currency in which they’re going to pay (and vice versa for suppliers)

This functionality makes it easy to incorporate exchange differences into product costs and pricing without having to worry about the human error and time spent calculating these numbers manually.  Import export software that shows you how much your customers owe you in the currency in which they’re going to pay and vice versa for suppliers is imperative in the industry.

Automated Customs Processes

ERP software vendors with experience dealing with importers and exporters can usually offer the advantage of automated systems to streamline the process of dealing with customs documents. For example, the system should be able to generate a Customs Declaration Form upon entering a purchase order automatically. If your organization spends significant time creating and dealing with customs documents, consider including this as an important part of your evaluation.

Automated systems to handle customs documents saves a lot of time manually organizing, updating and entering this information for each product.

Aside from the above functionality it is also important to evaluate ERP vendors on their customer satisfaction and experience dealing with other customers in the same industry.  Ask for references from similar businesses already using the software and look for vendors that spend the time getting to know you and your business.  A vendor that understands your needs and has experience in the industry will be able to better handle any issues you have and may even be able to recommend process improvements and strategies to improve your business.

Last, make sure to inquire about the support offered by each vendor.  If you’re receiving product outside of regular business hours will you need 24-hour support?  Keep in mind that those offering 24-hour support tend to outsource this feature to companies overseas, whereas smaller businesses may be able to offer more personalized in-house support.

When investing in new ERP software, make sure you chose the system that is best suited for your business and the industry you operate in. Although many systems can be customized to meet your specific functionality requirements, there are also a lot of out-of-the-box systems with industry specific optional features.  These systems will be less expensive than something that is fully customized and will also include vendor experience in the industry.  Be sure to enquire about industry specific functionality as well as the other aspects mentioned above.