A growing business simply cannot thrive off the same systems and processes that were once used when the company was a startup. At first, introductory accounting systems are used, and inventory is likely managed manually with excel spreadsheets but small businesses implementing wholesale inventory management software can streamline and integrate processes expiring manual actions. Even though this kind of software is designed to help you run your business more efficiently, obtaining it is not a simple task that can be done quickly. Preparing for wholesale inventory management software requires budgeting, team planning, and a possible change in processes. For smaller businesses, it can be shocking to discover the increase in price or timeline for implementation but rest assured, this is the time and place to be picky! Understand how much you want to spend, the kind of support and relationship you want to have with a vendor and prepared to change. Being open to automation or a new way of doing things can help your business not harm it.
Before you even reach out to vendors… Do. Your. Research.
We can’t stress this enough! Wholesale Inventory Management Software is not made equally by each vendor and you’ll need to do the research to start determining what tier of software you need and the kind of budgeting you’ll need to plan for. Doing this kind of research can help you prepare for the cost differences between introductory software and wholesale inventory management software. For example, some vendors use base prices for each new implementation while others will charge based on time spent. Think of it this way:
- One business has over 10 years of data, 20,000 contacts, 3,000 SKUs to migrate over and 75 employees to train.
- Another business is fairly new having only been in business for over 3 years with 1,000 contacts, 400 SKUs to migrate and 5 employees to train.
The first business is going to take a lot longer to implement compared to the second business just based on the amount of data that needs to be migrated and the number of employees that need to be trained. Any small to medium-sized business should be paying for services that are custom to their business; one-on-one training is advised so your team can ask questions on the spot. When preparing the budget be sure to include:
- # of users with login and password
- Cloud-based vs on-premises and further cost considerations
- Out-of-the-box functionality and potential integrations
- Industry-specific feature requirements
- Training and data migration
- Implementation Costs
Once implementation is complete, you’ll then be interacting with your vendor when you have support questions, another area you should be preparing for before implementing wholesale inventory management software.
Moving from a small introductory system like QuickBooks to a robust software system can present certain challenges including access to support. QuickBooks is an easy-to-use web-based platform, and the use of QuickBooks likely means that you’re processing your accounting records in the same or similar fashion to everyone else using QuickBooks. Because of this ‘one size fits all’ approach, many of your questions can likely be answered in a FAQ article.
As your business continues to grow, you’ll find your own way of doing business and some processes that you develop may be specific to you. The right vendor of your wholesale inventory management software will be able to navigate your business processes and will still be able to provide the kind of support that is again specific to you. For example, let’s say your vendor’s software is built using the Microsoft Database and they have helped you create a custom SQL Report for your management team. Should that report ever break, your vendor should know how to fix it when you get on the phone with them. You likely won’t be finding the answers to your questions about customized reports on a FAQ page. If you want a one-on-one approach to support, ask vendors what kind of support they offer during your evaluation process.
Imagine that. Almost 70% of your processes can be automated through the use of the right systems and integrations. Your commission payouts, budget management, customer communications, and more can be automated with wholesale inventory management software so really, what is stopping you?
Automation can be scary because we tend to fall into this “Robots are going to take over” mentality. But automation doesn’t need you to get rid of quality employees. Instead, it can be used to proactively increase efficiencies for those overworked employees and give them a break from multiple data entries or tedious tasks like sending reminder emails. Not only will you employees benefit from automation but so will your customers. Reduced lead times, accurate inventory levels and higher productivity will translate to a better overall customer experience.
What if I continue with my current processes?
There’s a famous quote by author John Maxwell that reads “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” This quote can be applied to many facets of life but when in business, it still rings true. Environmental impacts will affect your business whether you like it or not. A prime example is the Covid Pandemic which halted supply chains for every industry - not many businesses were prepared for the impact.
So, since change is inevitable, it is up to the business owner to implement growth strategies that allow the company to adapt to the environment. One example is that many businesses are thinking of allowing remote work even after the pandemic becomes less of a threat to social interaction. Adapting to the changes and listening to employees/customers will help you run your business at its most efficiently. The 3 phases of change management can help to avoid employee resistance or lack of management support.