Inventory & Accounting ERP Software Blog

The (Technology) Times They Are a-Changin’

The famous words of Bob Dylan perfectly describe the world we live in as it learns to adapt and adjust to the massive changes that are brought upon it by advancements in technology. Our lives are constantly changing, and every day new forms of software and hardware are introduced in ways to make our lives easier and more focused. There’s an app for everything these days, and every real-life action has its own online counterpart. With the world forced to adjust due to a pandemic, we are finding new ways to continue to operate our businesses and shift even faster to an all-digital world.

Back in 2010, our founder and president, Mark Canes, wrote a blog post about how the newly introduced iPod Nano featured a camera and video capabilities, and that we should be prepared for what seems like a never-ending onslaught of people sharing every moment of their daily lives. That was 2010, and in 2020 it almost seems strange if you aren’t posting even the most private aspects of your life online. What a difference 10 years make.

(Image: apple-history.com)
If we look 10 years before that, the year 2000, just coming off the Y2K scare, we have a population that is unfamiliar with technology and the internet as a whole. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, and no YouTube. How did we survive without YouTube and Netflix? This was a time when Blockbuster thrived, when Amazon wasn’t the main supplier of, well, everything. Apple’s iMac seems completely archaic compared to their latest iMac release. That was 20 years ago, but with how fast things change and how much technology improves, that seems like a lifetime ago.

(Image: http://www.designandtech.net/)
With shows like Stranger Things introducing a large percentage of people to what the 80s looked like, we get an even crazier view of the world before tech. Kids on bikes, people hanging at the mall all day, people going to the drive-in. When you really think about it, the 80s weren’t that long ago at all, but 1980 was 40 years ago. Forty years. We live in a completely different world than the world of 1980. In 1980 the Atari 2600 practically just released, giving most Americans their first taste of video games at home, and don’t even get started in cell phones, which the only ones available at that time were the size of a brick. Today, we have phones that are approaching the thinness of a piece of paper, and video games that are difficult to separate from real life. What a difference 40 years makes.

We can go back further, but at that point we might as well be looking at Old West. It’s crazy to think that there are people that have seen it all, a World War, the first rocket launch, the moon landing, color TV, the list goes on. These people have seen the world at it’s worst, and at it’s best, and are now journeying into the unknown. We are a world full of endless possibilities, and we really don’t know where we’ll end up. All we can do is hope for the best and hope for a bright future. The world has changed so much in such a short time, and it looks like that won’t be stopping any time soon. As the present now will later be past, for the times they are a-changin’.

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Tips for Working from Home with Cloud-based Software

As we continue to monitor COVID-19, it is more important than ever for people who can work from home to do so. Thankfully, due to cloud-based software solutions, video conferencing apps, and other pieces of software and technology, more and more businesses can be just as productive from the safety of their own homes as they can at the office. For those who can work remotely, such as the Blue Link team, we’ve shared some tips on how to work productively. For those who aren’t able to work from home, there is a lot of great information available on how to stay safe and healthy while minimizing your interaction with the public. For those in the middle of the pandemic, people in the health care profession, people helping travelers get home safe and those keeping their doors open to provide necessities, we are very appreciative of your hard work and want to thank you for doing your part.

A quick refresher. Cloud-based software allows users to connect to remote servers to access data and perform tasks. Cloud-based is sometimes referred to as SaaS (software-as-a-service) or hosted and implies software that physically lives on the vendor’s hardware which users can then remotely access via the internet. For those people who are currently at home in self-isolation watching Netflix and unable to work, guess what? Netflix is a perfect example of a cloud-based solution. Users pay an on-going monthly fee to access software and data hosted on servers and computers owned and managed by Netflix. For people working from home, cloud-based software such as Google Drive, Slack, Zoom Meetings, HubSpot and Blue Link ERP all enable users to continue business as usual as long as they have an internet connection. Having access to the right systems is just one way to remain productive from the comfort of your own home. Below we’ve outlined a couple of others.

1. Get Dressed Like You’re Going into the Office

This one seems to be a recurring theme. By getting up every morning and getting dressed for the office, you’re maintaining your normal routine and getting into the work mindset. According to a study from Northwestern University, certain clothing can influence the wearer’s psychological processes. The influence of clothes will depend on wearing them and their symbolic meaning – for example, wearing business attire for important discussions.

2. Create a Comfortable Workspace

If you’re like me, you might not have an extra room for a full office in your house, especially when your actual home office space is currently being used by your partner who is also working from home. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a comfortable workspace. Make sure you invest in the proper equipment such as a good chair and headset, and enough monitors. Try to set yourself up in a room that is not associated with relaxation and has minimal distractions (such as your dining room, and not your TV room).

3. Video Conference Whenever Possible

To foster a team atmosphere even when working from home, try to video conference with your team whenever possible. Make sure to dedicate a few minutes at the beginning or end of each meeting for some cooler talk and make a point of video conferencing whenever you can – even if sending a quick email is easier. This helps keep employees engaged and involved.  It’s also a good idea to check in with your team often. Consider having regular morning meetings to discuss what’s happening that day and to keep the lines of communication open.

4. Communicate Expectations with Anyone Who Will be Home with You

If you are not the only one home during this period of self-isolation, make sure you set clear expectations with other members of your household. Consider designating specific times where you can take breaks together or implement strategies for scheduled interruptions. For example, make it clear that there will be certain times during the day when you can’t be interrupted, but others when your door is open to some interaction.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Breaks

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to take breaks. Don’t let the guilt of trying to be as productive as possible keep you from recharging. Just like you would at the office, it’s important to get up from your desk to stretch your legs or chat with coworkers while working from home. It’s ok to take a break to do a load of laundry, as long as you’re not distracted to then sit on the couch and turn on the TV. Consider getting outside for a walk on your lunch to clear your head. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when interaction with the outside world needs to be limited. Although you shouldn’t be going to the gym, you can still safely take a walk to get some exercise. 

COVID-19 Resources:

Public Health Agency of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html 
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 
Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 

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The Benefits of Blue Link

The sun peaks over the horizon, and your alarm blares. You turn over, staying in bed as long as possible, dreading the day ahead. Work is a slog, and no matter what you do to make the process easier, everything comes crashing down. The reports are full of errors, the system always crashes, half the day is spent troubleshooting and it’s affecting your business. What’s the fix? What will make your life easier? Well, we have an answer, and that answer is Blue Link.

You get to work and you do some quick research, a simple Google search for “ERP”. There are too many results and it’s getting hard to navigate. Replacing your entire system isn’t the easiest or quickest process, so you try to spend a significant amount of time researching. Eventually, you land on Blue Link ERP – and you’re in the right place.

Blue Link ERP is an all-in-one inventory management and accounting system that accommodates a variety of industries and unique business needs. Our software is purpose-built for wholesale and distribution with additional features and components for retail and eCommerce operations. Blue Link eliminates the need to manage multiple, standalone solutions, therefore, eliminating double-entry and the errors associated with manual data entry, helping your business become as efficient as possible.

You’re impressed by what you’re hearing. No more errors? No more manual entry? Automatic reports? All of this sounds like a lifesaver. You’re right. It is. Your business processes will be simplified, and you’ll have more time to dedicate to aspects of the business that really matter – but this isn’t enough, let’s hear from someone who made the switch.

“My company, Carr McLean, had to move from an in house Unix ERP system due to the retirement of the only programmer for the software. From talking to other companies that have switched ERP systems we were all very nervous about the transition risks. Met the Blue link ERP at DX3 and quickly found them to be friendly and helpful. Before deciding on which software to choose we were able to meet with Mark, Darren, and Jordan who really made us feel like we made the right decision. We worked with Mike on our transition. He could not have fit in better with our company. Even during the most stressful times, he brought a great attitude and humour that relieved a lot of the anxiety we had switching systems. Since the initial implementation with a quick email, the support staff has always quickly helped with any questions or problems we have encountered. Blue Link has helped us improve our software automation which has increased our speed and service level. I am very confident in recommending them.” – PJ Barclay

They were in the same position as you, using an out of date software with no support, and needed to take a chance on change. They made the move, and today they’re operating better than ever, completely satisfied with their new software with Blue Link. Maybe you think it’s not enough, that you can stick it out and just keep chugging along with your current software. Maybe you’ll eventually go crazy with how frustrating it is. Maybe you’ll eventually run off into the woods just to avoid working with that system. Anything is possible. Or, you follow in the footsteps of dozens of satisfied Blue Link customers, who have had their businesses improve year over year since switching to Blue Link. Their lives are better, and their work is easier.

“After using Syspro ERP for the past 18 years, we made the painful but necessary transition to a new ERP system. After a thorough review, we decided on Blue Link Associates hosted offerings.

To say the prospect of this change evoked trepidation and anxiety for our management team would be an understatement. Having used our old ERP system for so long, we had created an enormous database of information, luckily both systems utilized SQL but the data conversion added an additional layer of apprehension…

But Darren and his team, first remotely and then over a week on-site achieved a near “flawless” conversion to their Blue Link Elite ERP platform and had us working in the new system almost immediately. This was an incredible feat only made possible through experience and knowledge, both of which I can attest they have an abundance of.

Now after six months working with the product and the Blue Link team, our only regret is that we did not make this move years ago. Over the past few months, we have been “tweaking” the product and adding customized changes that have been a real asset to our specific operations, best of all without “breaking the bank” to do so.

No matter how big or small the issue or inquiry, Blue Link’s support team has been the most welcome component of this upgrade. They are extremely knowledgeable, professional, prompt and courteous, they are also “very fair” when it comes to billing for these extremely important services, they have held our hand through this entire process (and still are).

All members of the company/team are readily available and accessible which has also been of comfort during this entire process. In my 35+ years in the computer industry and as an IT Admin, their support on a daily basis had been, and by far, the most professional, competent and efficient process that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Lastly, the software… It is without hesitation (or any type of influence) that we can recommend to anyone in the market for a robust & powerful ERP system with “old school support from people who truly care”, that they give Blue Link Associates a call.” – Ross.

Blue Link customers are always satisfied, and we always try to do our best in making sure our customers are happy and that everything is working beyond expectation. So, pick up the phone, make the call. Let’s make things easier for you – you deserve it.

Need more convincing? Read what more of our happy customers have to say about Blue Link.

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World Wildlife Day 2020

Earth is our home, and it is the only home we’ve got, so we must do what we can to save it. World Wildlife Day reminds us that there is an urgency when it comes to preservation and the fight against climate change. Our time to act is now, and every moment we have is precious, and we must treat it as such. Humans have been the cause of massive environmental loss and population reduction, so now we must fix it.

The same thought crosses through all of our heads, “if this problem is so massive, then what can one person do to fix it?”, and you’re right, one person can’t. This problem requires all of us to do our part, to join together and make the right choices that result in positive change – and adjusting our habits so that we can contribute something good to the world. We are at a point where even the smallest bit of change can have an impact. So, where do you start? Easy. At Blue Link, we have completely eliminated plastic waste, which means no more single-use plastics, no plastic bottles, no plastic bags, nothing that can’t be recycled. You can follow this example by switching to a reusable water bottle or dropping plastic shopping bags for a reusable shopping basket. It might not seem like much, but you are helping. It really is that easy to start making a difference.

Over the past 40 years, around 60% of global wildlife populations have been lost. A staggering number. The cause? Us. It hasn’t been our intention, but it is the direct result of our actions and the changes we have made to the environment. Within the past few years, we have lost the West African Black Rhino, the Baiji White Dolphin, the Pyrenean Ibex, the Tasmanian Devil, and that’s not even scratching the surface of what else has been lost. These animals have gone extinct, not due to natural selection, but due to environment loss and poaching. So what can be done to prevent more animals from being lost? There are many things that should be done, but the easiest thing for you to do is not support companies that are directly responsible for destroying these environments and changing your diet. Think about how much meat you consume on a weekly basis and try to reduce that number. Go vegan a few days a week, or try being a vegetarian. The food culture has changed to allow plenty of options with any type of diet, so a vegan diet no longer consists of only leaves, but a wide range of food. Experiment. Try something new, you might like it.

Water is our greatest resource, and it is home to millions of forms of life and gives life to billions more. Every hour over 900 tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans worldwide, and is greatly affecting sea life and the animals and species that thrive there. We need water to live, so why are we poisoning our greatest resource? Over the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than during the entire last century, and most of that plastic ends up not being recycled, and if it doesn’t end up in a landfill somewhere, it ends up in the ocean. We need to stop this and act quickly to clean up the waters of our world. How can you help? Stop using plastics, even if they are recyclable, it’s better to just stop using them altogether. That means no plastic water bottles, no plastic bags, no plastic cups. Be like us here at Blue Link and remove plastic from your life. It’s a small change, but it makes a big difference.

World Wildlife Day presents us with an opportunity to take a better look at the world we live in. The animals that live among us, and the changes we’ve made to the world. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with nature, to find some peace in the beauty of earth. We don’t often spend the time to admire just how amazing nature is, and all the incredible things that are part of it. We’re too busy with our phones and our work and everything else that runs through our heads, but a moment in nature can feel like a burden has been lifted. A minute of peace and quiet on a short hike can do wonders for your mind. Reconnect. Remember that the earth is our home, and it is our job to protect it.

Every day we have the chance to make a change. To decide to walk to the store instead of driving, to throw that wrapper in the garbage instead of littering, to eat locally grown produce instead of supporting a polluting megacorporation. Every day you have dozens of choices to make, and no matter how small, they all have an impact, so make sure it’s a positive one. Make your choice one that will make this world a better place, because it’s all we’ve got.

At Blue Link, we try to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint, and to make the world a better place. Some of the things we do are small, but that’s the point, because even the smallest things matter, and some of the things we do have a wider reach and spread to our customers too. With Blue Link, our built-in support of handheld scanners reduces the use of pick slips in warehouses, and DocuWare eliminates the need to print and mail documents resulting in less paper waste. Our cloud-based software eliminates the need for in-house servers, reducing power use and minimizing e-waste. Plus, our partnership with 2Ship allows our customers to consolidate their shipping which can not only save them money but reduce the number of shipments, meaning fewer trucks on the road and fewer emissions being sent into the atmosphere. So, try something new, change your diet, change your habits, recycle, clean up a park, take a walk through nature. Everything counts, and everything helps.

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ERP Software Implementation: A Cost Breakdown

ERP software varies significantly from introductory inventory or accounting software (such as QuickBooks) in that it provides functionality across all business operations. This includes inventory management, accounting, order entry and processing, warehouse management, contact management, eCommerce integration, barcode scanning and more. If your business has become frustrated with managing multiple, standalone solutions, if you’re looking to start selling through new sales channels or have reached user and data limits within your existing system, it’s time to consider ERP software. However, it’s important to note that with this decision comes an increase in costs – and rightfully so. With more functionality, more automation, robust reporting and integration opportunities, the costs associated with using and setting up ERP are not comparable to QuickBooks and can vary significantly from one vendor to the next and from one company to the next. Most software systems include costs for software licenses and implementation costs.

What are software implementation costs? Software implementation costs are the one-time fees associated with setting up a new software solution and typically include the cost of training employees on how to use the new software, the cost of moving data from any existing systems or spreadsheets into the new system (also known as data migration) and the cost of actually setting up the server environment and configuring the system for your specific company needs. Let’s take a closer look at how Blue Link ERP breaks down its software implementation service costs.

Training

Training costs tend to make up a significant portion of implementation costs. At Blue Link we estimate these numbers based mostly on users, however, other factors that can have an impact on costs. For example, training a large number of people at the same time tends to require more time and effort (for fielding questions etc.), and how quickly training goes will also depend on how familiar your team is with using software, and whether they can dedicate time to focus solely on training (as opposed to getting caught up with day-to-day tasks and pulled into other meetings). To make the training go as smoothly as possible, employees must have the time to dedicate to learning Blue Link without other distractions.

Data Migration

Data migration is the process of moving company data from your existing systems (accounting, inventory, eCommerce and spreadsheets) into Blue Link ERP. At a minimum, you should consider migrating the following data:

Customers with outstanding balances
Outstanding AR balances
Vendors
AP balances
Active inventory items
Pricing information
General ledger balances
Opening entries

You can read more about Blue Link’s specific process for migrating data here, but essentially our team will review your existing data, extract it from existing systems and map it to the appropriate fields in Blue Link and then move the data into our system. However, the actual process is a bit more complex and this is where additional costs come into play. If your data is stored in multiple systems or multiple formats, or if your data needs to be cleaned up, this takes additional time and requires additional import procedures. For example, do you have a lot of duplicate customer records? Are you happy with existing product codes? Depending on your internal data entry processes and the restrictions of your current system, there may be a lot of areas for improvement with your existing data. Although this can take additional time and impact overall costs, it’s always best practice to start with good, clean data. Alternatively, for new companies with only a small amount of historical data, the migration process is simplified.

Cost Considerations

Data migration quotes can vary by thousands of dollars because many software vendors low-ball quotes and ignore the massaging process and can sometimes put the onus on the customer to extract the data or manually enter it themselves. Although the data migration process may seem easy for individuals who have the skillset, even these people often face several issues such as the ones below:

How do you update the data already migrated on the day you switch over “live” to the new system? How quickly can you get this done when doing it yourself?
How do you get the opening balances, unpaid payables, uncollected receivables, etc. across at go-live?
What if you want to change product codes, categories, etc.?
Sales history and payment history – do you have the necessary skillset and knowledge to retrofit the old system’s extracted data so that it works and makes sense in the new system? Will you be able to reprint an invoice?

Having all important data migrated fully by the ERP vendor is always the best option and more often than not, any company that decides against this in the beginning quickly changes their mind as they start to work with the new system and realize the power of their data. 

Customization

Major customization is typically identified during Blue Link’s consultative sales process and therefore built into the initial software costs. However, many customers will also identify new custom during the implementation based on existing processes and habits. In this situation, we strongly recommend that any custom requests get added to a Wish List for future review. This is because many existing processes can be improved or replaced with the implementation of the right ERP system and therefore these custom projects will quickly become obsolete. If necessary, this Wish List can then be revisited in the future.  

Configuration/Installation

The last cost included with the implementation process is for configuration and installation. Blue Link’s cloud-based software is hosted on our servers and each customer will have its own server environment configured for your specific company needs. Therefore, time is required by our IT team to provision this server environment and configure your version of Blue Link ERP. The time and costs associated with this step will depend on the complexity of your business processes, number of locations, number of business entities, sales structure etc.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, many variables impact software implementation costs. Because actual costs can vary so significantly from one company to the next, Blue Link always provides a wide range of cost estimates to account for all the different factors. These estimates act as a starting point and are based on historical data of companies of a similar size. Blue Link will then bill based on the actual time required for each activity mentioned above. This is also why it’s impossible (and even dangerous) to provide a set cost for a software implementation. We have designed our sales process to include an in-depth analysis of your operation so that as we learn more about your company during these discussions, we can provide a more granular and accurate range of costs. It’s important to dedicate the time and resources to a proper software implementation as it will have many positive benefits to your company down the road. Properly trained employees will be more confident completing tasks and taking advantage of the automation opportunities Blue Link ERP provides, clean data reduces the number of inventory, accounting and customer errors, helping with company financials and customer service and the right system configuration provides checks and balances to further automate your processes.

Learn more about Blue Link’s Software Implementation Services

 

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Want an Easy Way to Build Customer Trust? Data Integrity Can Help.

Want to know an easy way to build customer trust? Data integrity. Having easy access to reliable, accurate data has huge implications for the success of your company and for building trust among your customers. Not only do customers want to know that you’re keeping their data safe, but they also want to know that you’re maintaining accurate data so that you won’t double charge them, get their order wrong or send product to the wrong address. The best way to maintain accurate data records is to implement all-in-one business management software. Having a single solution and database to manage all information about your customers, accounts, vendors, inventory and finances makes it easy to share information across multiple departments. Business management software today also provides tools for ensuring the integrity of data – such as data audit trails, time and date stamps, the ability to automatically add notes, update fields and insert a record after performing a task in the system, user tracking and other checks and balances that help prevent and identify bad data. But, before we get into exactly how business management software can help manage your data, let’s first explore the importance of building customer trust. 

Getting, maintaining and increasing customer trust is important to building brand loyalty. To keep customers happy and to grow as a business, we all want our customers to trust our company, our brand, our product and our services. But even the most trustworthy businesses need a way to manage this consistently over time. It’s not enough to be trustworthy if the customer is not aware. What makes a customer trust a brand? According to a recent study by Edleman, the reasons can be divided into three distinct areas: product-oriented concerns; customer-oriented concerns; and societal-oriented concerns. By far the most common area of trust relates to product-given concerns with 87% of global customers citing this area as the most important. The best example of this is customers trusting a brand because it delivers good quality products and services. Customer-oriented concerns ranked second highest for why customers trust brands at roughly 56% globally. Examples of trust in this area include businesses that treat the customer and others well, can quickly address customer service problems and that do a good job of protecting the privacy and security of customer data. Why is trust so important? According to the same Edleman study, consumers rank brand trust as one of the top factors they consider when making a purchase decision.

Now that we know how important customer trust is, and how data integrity is an easy way to increase customer trust, let’s explore some specific examples.  

Inventory Management

Proper inventory management is crucial for building customer trust. Maintaining inventory data from within one system allows you to easily track incoming sales orders, open purchase orders, product on backorder and product available for sale in your warehouse. Customers need to trust that when they place an order for product across all available sales channel, inventory information is accurate and up to date. If customers cannot rely on the information your company provides about inventory availability and shipping times, they will look somewhere else to buy product.

Customer Relationship Management

When it comes to customer service, maintaining accurate customer data can have a huge impact on how quickly your business can respond to and remedy customer services issues. Tracking customer communication, follow-ups, account details, sales history, contact information etc. also allows you to easily reference information in the system without wasting time looking through multiple solutions and spreadsheets. This helps to address customer concerns more quickly and ensures people from different departments can easily find information about any particular customer. Maintaining accurate customer account information provides customers with peace of mind that they will get the product they ordered, when they want it, delivered to the right location at the right price. When customers trust that you have the correct information and can address their concerns quickly, it improves the overall customer service experience.

Accounting and Finance

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get a refund, cancel an order, pay a bill or place a new order when the customer service team does not have the correct information about your account. Business management software that includes accounting functionality allows your company to easily update accounts, automatically email customers information such as invoices and past due notices, manage multiple pricing contracts and provides easy access to customer data – all from within one system.  

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Blue Link and Shopify eCommerce Integration

Did you know that Blue Link supports Shopify eCommerce integration? Well, thanks to our partner VL OMNI, we do! The following is a brief walkthrough of how a real order placed on a Shopify website for one of Blue Link’s customers ECS Coffee, flows automatically from Shopify to Blue Link, and then back again using integration provided by VL OMNI.
We want to start off by browsing to ECS Coffee’s website, and by adding an item to our cart and then checking out. This is a simple process that has been done by many, if not all of you, dozens of times before on many different websites. After we have completed that step, we get to take an inside look behind the scenes at Blue Link’s software.

Step One: Enter order through online eCommerce store. In this example, through ECS Coffee’s Shopify site. 

 

 

Step Two: Review the order in Blue Link after the information automatically populates from the Shopify Store. 

Inside Blue Link, the order review screen has been updated with the new order that was just placed. By drilling down into the order, you will notice that the Shopify order number appears in the purchase order field for easy cross-reference. Plus, on the order details tab, you can see the product quantity and price exactly match the order placed online, which is extremely useful as you don’t have to go back and forth and worry about pasting in multiple numbers in different fields and possibly creating an error. We like to keep things simple, so simple that we even transfer over the payment information for you. Depending on how you have the system set-up, orders that meet certain criteria will automatically get sent to the warehouse for picking, packing and shipping. Alternatively, someone from your team can review orders from all sales channels from Blue Link’s sales order review screen. 

 
Step Three: Pick, pack and ship the order. 

Next step is shipping, and shipping the order in Blue Link is extremely easy. Using barcode scanning tools, after you have picked the product, one scan of the barcode brings up the order on screen, and an additional scan of the product packs it into a container. Blue Link integrates with various shipping software, and in this case a single scan of the order number pulls the shipping address into FedEx  – and by clicking ‘Ship’ in FedEx, it returns the tracking information to Blue Link.

 
Step Four: Automatically update all systems and notify the customer that the order has shipped. 
Shipping the order in Blue Link changes the order status, allowing the VL OMNI integration to work behind the scenes, close the order in Shopify and update the tracking information online for the customer to see. That’s it! With full eCommerce integration between Blue Link and your eCommerce site, the only time a person had to interact with the system was to physically pick and ship the order. All other aspects were completely automated by the various system integrations.
 

 
Step Five: Watch this video to see how the above eCommerce integration looks in action!
Not only does Blue Link integrate with Shopify, but with the help of VL OMNI’s integration tools, you can integrate Blue Link ERP with various other eCommerce sites as well as marketplaces such as Amazon. 

 

 

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3 Ways to Get Immediate ROI from Warehouse Inventory Software

Purchasing warehouse inventory software to manage your wholesale distribution business requires a large investment of time, resources and money. Therefore, the sooner you start to see a return on your investment the better. Thankfully, if you’re moving from an introductory system or mostly manual processes, the ROI will be almost immediate through automation, more accurate data, and streamlined processes. Although it’s important to evaluate the cost savings from implementing warehouse inventory software, it’s also important to evaluate other benefits – such as the amount of time you save picking, packing and shipping orders, the shipping errors you’re able to eliminate, and the more accurate your inventory. Let’s explore some of the immediate benefits of implementing Blue Link’s warehouse inventory software.

(1) Reduce Manual Data Entry

With Blue Link’s warehouse inventory software, you will immediately be able to reduce the amount of data entry. This then eliminates the need to hire or pay additional employees, and instead you can improve the efficiency of your existing staff and processes. When a customer submits an order, or when you receive inventory into your warehouse, you no longer need to manually enter information across multiple systems and spreadsheets. Instead, orders from multiple sales channels accumulate into one system, automatically allocating inventory and updating inventory availability. Employees also have the option to scan new shipments directly into the system during the receiving process.

(2) Improve Productivity

Inventory accuracy empowers your team to sell more product without ever having to worry about whether or not an item is out of stock. This means you’re able to better serve customers and improve the pick, pack and ship process. With tools such as mobile barcode scanning, you eliminate the human error associated with manually picking orders and instead your employees are able to quickly and accurately pick, pack and ship product to customers. Employees are able to easily determine the next steps by quickly pulling up new orders directly from the handheld device. With bin and shelf location tracking, employees don’t waste any time wandering the warehouse floor looking for product. When you manage data from a single system, inventory availability is always up-to-date – even quantities available online through proper eCommerce integration.

(3) Increase Shipping Accuracy

Barcode scanning provides a double check when packing orders which helps to improve the accuracy of shipping. Pack-to-container functionality allows you to track and account for every item and container it was shipped in. Fewer shipping errors increases customer trust and keeps customers happy.

Taking into account the immediate benefits of implementing warehouse inventory software, it seems like a no brainer to upgrade from your introductory system and manual processes. Even if each individual task your employees are performing today do not take up that much time, when you combine the amount of time across employees and processes, the numbers quickly add up. Proper software allows you to focus on more important areas of the business – such as growing sales – instead of worrying about fixing mistakes and not having accurate information. If you’re moving from a legacy piece of software, or already have some warehouse inventory features in your current system, look for warehouse inventory software that provides advanced functionality – such as the ability to track the movement of product throughout your entire warehouse, show empty bin/shelf availability and set-up stocking location priorities and ratings.

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Apparel Software with eCommerce Integration

If you are someone who works in the apparel industry, you know the complications that come with dealing with large amounts of products that are similar, yet need to be tracked separately. Things can get off to a great start and very quickly go off the rails as your company grows and more inventory needs to be managed and different product lines begin to pop up. This is where ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software comes in and can make your life a lot easier. Blue Link ERP has a unique, purpose-built apparel software matrix, which automates and streamlines the management of products and orders, which is exactly what you need in apparel software.

 

In 2016 in the United States alone, store-based retail apparel was valued at approximately 292 billion dollars, and by 2025 is estimated to grow to a staggering 390 billion dollars. This is massive growth, and one that would be impossible to manage without the proper procedures in place. Imagine tracking that much inventory by hand, or with outdated software based on MS-DOS. You’d be pulling your hair out after the first hour. So, with highly sophisticated ERP software like Blue Link, the process is a lot simpler.

 

Product generation functionality is a vital piece of apparel inventory software and can save a lot of time when defining new products. Typically, users define a base part number with variations in the product ID to account for size and colour. Replicating this information manually across dozens of variations can be both time-consuming and prone to error. With Blue Link ERP and the built-in apparel software matrix, this process gets automated and simplified, providing ultimate flexibility for entering orders and quotes – plus, you always have the option of switching back and forth between the grid and traditional order entry modes.

Worldwide retail eCommerce sales are expected to reach just over four trillion dollars in 2020, with no signs of slowing down. If you are a company that has yet to transition to eCommerce or take eCommerce seriously, then unfortunately you are behind on the times, but it’s not too late to make a change. With Blue Link’s eCommerce integration guide, we show you how easy it is to get started, and make sure your apparel software integrates with your eCommerce channels. This will enable you to take a great leap forward, and represent your company in the online space, allowing you access to a wider audience and a greater customer base. This is incredibly important because if we take a look at the kind of numbers that eCommerce produces, we can see that in 2017, eCommerce was responsible for around 2.3 trillion dollars in sales, and this number is expected to grow to around 4.5 trillion dollars by 2021 – astronomical growth. If you’re not making your offerings available in this space, you need to.

 

When using Blue Link ERP, not only do you get access to personalized in-house support, but you also receive a powerful all-in-one system that handles both wholesale and distribution, plus features for retail and eCommerce operations. Blue Link eliminates the need to manage multiple, standalone solutions, which removes the need to enter information more than once, helping your business to run as efficiently as possible. This allows your company to grow at a manageable pace while improving sales and keeping everything running as smoothly as possible.

You may be left wondering what you should be looking for when it comes to apparel inventory software – well, Blue Link ERP has you covered with that. We have a free guide that makes that process much simpler for you, and gives you the right information without any filler.

 

“Blue Link is a unique environment in terms of you have to be ready to embrace it, but if you’re willing to really make that effort from a company standpoint and you really get your staff on board, it’s pretty phenomenal.”
– Tal Dehtiar, Owner, Oliberté

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How Wholesale Software is Evolving to Meet Changing Industry Needs

When people think wholesale and distribution, they think about companies that buy and sell inventory, operate one or multiple warehouse locations and serve primarily a B2B market of customers – selling products to other businesses such as retail stores, other distributors and manufacturing companies. However, the world of wholesale and distribution has been evolving for quite some time now and will continue to do so in 2020 and beyond. The dividing lines between wholesale, retail and eCommerce continues to blur and we are experiencing a disruption of business models, distribution channels and consumer expectations, known by some as Flux Commerce. In today’s world, wholesale distributors do more than just buy and sell inventory to B2B customers – they also provide service and repair, do light manufacturing and sell through eCommerce and retail channels, targeting B2B customers and the end-consumer. This means that wholesale software to manage these types of businesses is also evolving to provide additional tools for point-of-sale, eCommerce and marketplace integration, service and repair functionality and more. Below we’ve outlined some specific tools that Blue Link offers that are important to the ever-changing wholesale distribution industry.

eCommerce

For the most part, there are 3 different options when it comes to eCommerce. Selling directly to the general public through your own website built on platforms like Shopify, selling B2C through marketplaces such as Amazon and selling to B2B customers through a secure online order portal. It’s not unusual nowadays to find wholesale distributors who sell through all 3 channels. This makes it important to find wholesale software that can manage these online sales channels in addition to traditional methods of selling by phone, email, EDI and via outside sales reps. Blue Link wholesale software includes eCommerce integration which allows for the bi-directional flow of data between each online platform. When a customer places an order online, this information automatically populates in Blue Link allowing your team to review and prioritize in conjunction with all other order types. An employee can first review the order, or the system can automatically send the order to the warehouse for pick, pack and ship based on specific system criteria. When an employee ships an order or receives new inventory into your warehouse and updates Blue Link, the information also populates online so that customers always have insight into available inventory and can easily track order status and shipment information.

Retail

Although some wholesale distributors operate brick and mortar retail stores, many others provide retail environments through cash and carry business models, front-counter operations or utilize POS functionality selling product at tradeshows. No matter the situation, this makes it important to find a wholesale solution with POS functionality for managing these different types of customer interactions. If the volume of onsite transactions is high, Blue Link provides traditional point-of-sale software with barcode scanners, cash drawers and receipt/tape printers. Blue Link POS functionality also works offline which allows you to continue to process transactions even if you lose an internet connection or when selling to customers offsite and at tradeshows.

Service and Repair

For businesses who sell inventory items with a warranty, providing service and repair on those products is a value-added service that keeps customers coming back to buy more. For true wholesale distributors, this aspect of the company is likely only a small portion of overall operations, but it’s still important to find a solution with the right tools to manage this requirement. Blue Link includes the following features for managing all service and repair requests, both on-site and in-house.

Ability to track multiple service requests per order
Assign service requests against specific equipment items
Track parts and labor against service requests as well as other non-inventory items
Service and appointment scheduling with automated communication (appointment and maintenance reminders)
Job/project costing and integrated quoting

Light Manufacturing

Many companies who identify as a manufacturing business are actually wholesale distributors with some kitting, assembly and simple BOM needs. Therefore, wholesale software is still an appropriate solution as long as it includes these additional features. When managing inventory, it’s important to be able to account for individual units and finished goods as well as those required to form a kit. Blue Link provides these light manufacturing tools in addition to functionality for production control, product configurator and more.

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