All wholesale and distribution businesses will have similar requirements when it comes to managing inventory, doing accounts payable and receivable, creating sales orders, calculating commissions, invoicing customers and purchasing product. However, even if you’re in the business of buying and selling inventory, there are certain situations where your requirements will be more industry-specific – for example, if you deal with perishable items or regulated items, if you also sell through eCommerce and retail channels, and/or if you have multiple warehouse locations. Therefore, when searching for ERP software to help manage your business, your priority should be on finding a system that can handle wholesale and distribution, and then you will want to consider a software vendor that can handle your business type and industry-specific requirements.
Many wholesale distribution businesses also identify as a different business-type – for example, eCommerce, Retail or Import and Export. In this situation, you will want to look for ERP software that can handle the needs of your omni channel business – with wholesale and distribute at it’s core.
If your wholesale and distribution business also sells through eCommerce channels, you will need to find specific software functionality for managing your online sales channels. This could include your own site built on a platform like Magento or Shopify, an Online Order Portal for your B2B customers and sales reps, or integration with marketplaces such as Amazon. Look for an ERP solution that can integrate with ALL your sales channels and provides an all-in-one system for managing inventory. This means information is always up-to-date across your different sales platforms.
Many wholesale and distribution businesses will also sell through retail sales channels such as traditional brick and mortar retail or cash and carry. In this situation, while you will still need software for managing your wholesale operations and warehouse, but also specialized features for a point-of-sale environment. Once again, the right software will make sure information is synced across all sales channels.
Import and Export
For businesses that import and export product landed cost tracking is an important need. This helps you determine the true cost of getting product into your warehouse to help with purchasing and pricing decisions. You will also need the ability to manage specific documents, multi-currency and exchange rates.
Once you know which business-type best suits your company (or possibly a combination of business types), you want to then consider other industry-specific functionality that will be important in ERP software. Blue Link ERP provides functionality across a variety of wholesale and distribution industries including:
- Apparel and Sporting Equipment
- Baby and Children’s Products
- Building, Construction and Home Supplies
- Consumer Goods
- Food and Beverage
- Foodservice Equipment Supply
- Industrial Products
- Pharmaceutical and Medical
- Salon and Cosmetic Products
- Seed-to-Sale Cannabis Software
While all of the above industries will share software requirements (such as accounting, inventory management, and reporting), they will also have some specific requirements. Examples include:
Lot tracking (or batch tracking) allows you to track specific lots of products from supplier through to the end customer and can help quickly identify product in the event of a recall.
Matrix functionality allows you to easily manage inventory in a matrix format for companies that have SKUs with multiple variables (color, size, finish, etc.).
Pharmaceutical and Medical
The pharmaceutical and medical device distribution industry has sophisticated feature requirements around tracking inventory, reporting to the FDA and DEA, managing barcodes and serial numbers and keeping track of licenses.
Service and Repair
For companies with small service and repair requirements either in-house or in the field, service and repair features allow you to track and schedule work, assign non-inventory items such as labor and schedule regular maintenance. This is a common feature for businesses that offer installation services or do simple repairs for warranty items.