Recent research shows that the food, retail, wholesale, and distribution industries will continue to face a time of transformation.
With ongoing anticipated market growth in food distribution, retail, industrial and other distribution sectors, many companies are searching for ways to increase profit while expanding growth and market share.
Looking at Enterprise Technology for Distribution Companies
When considering enterprise technology for distribution companies, the goal is to fully understand how to evaluate, select and implement the best solutions to improve and optimize business processes.
This can be a complex process, especially for food companies that might be manufacturing their products and selling them through multiple channels including their own wholesale channels, restaurants, owner-operated stores, online retailers, specialty retailers and other channels.
Those companies relying on standalone spreadsheets, manual systems or siloed solutions that are not integrated across the enterprise face significant challenges.
These outdated methods slow their ability to perform or ship products on time, and in many cases, increase the likelihood of error and rework.
Three Key Considerations
What do project teams need to keep in mind when it comes to evaluating enterprise technology for distribution companies? Shared here is an overview of three key areas.
1 – Key Functionality
From bar-coding and warehouse data collection, integrated customer relationship management, flexible order entry and change order management, and forecasting to e-Commerce storefront and distribution requirements planning (DRP), teams must be informed about the difference between modern ERP and today’s warehouse management systems.
Most modern ERP solutions offer a range of functions and features that address those needed in the distribution sector. However, modern ERP is not specifically designed to deliver integrated and robust functionality that streamlines the management of complex distribution channels.
Key areas that need coverage include e-Commerce, supply chain management, inventory management and other areas that help these companies operate as fast and accurately as possible.
2 – The Challenge
Successful companies must be able to deliver products to customers on time while maintaining an optimum inventory level. This is where enterprise technology for distribution companies comes into play.
The ongoing discrepancy between supply and demand requires a Warehouse Management System that will complement the abilities of an ERP system, and help maximize the performance of your warehouse operations and the functional areas within your business.
The challenge is that in a perfect world, the distributor would know with precision the demand for its products, so that economical shipments could be produced, packaged and shipped to customers as the products come off the end of the production line.
But the real world doesn’t look like this. So, companies balance the distortions in both supply and demand with inventory, stored, of course in a warehouse.
ERP systems do a fine job of assisting in managing procurement, production and scheduling. But the management of inventory requires a specialized and integrated WMS functionality.
3 – Warehouse Management Systems: A Key Area of Enterprise Technology for Distribution Companies
A significant portion of WMS selection and implementation involves up-front planning. This phase relates to business process transformation.
Here, it is critical to identify waste and inefficiencies that may be caused by poor processes or obsolete computer systems.
The ideal planning process should include defining the desired future state processes to help find the best WMS solution. After selection but before implementation, define the warehouse management strategy to cover each of the aspects of the process.
This strategy definition phase, along with your project plan, is the single most critical part of WMS implementation.
Having completed this exercise, the project team would begin the ERP/WMS implementation in earnest.
This final phase of the project is comprised of the configuration, testing and practice with the systems to assure that the desired future state has been achieved.
Need more insight?
Download the timely white paper “Your Best Warehouse Management System: Getting Maximum Value From Your Warehouse and Your Functional Areas.”
Enterprise Technology for Distribution Companies: Next Step
Ultra’s team of independent ERP consultants is in constant dialogue with mid-sized distribution organizations. It’s clear from these conversations that it’s a new chapter for the distribution sector, given the changes in consumer demand, delivery platforms and more.
Forward-looking companies are now evaluating how enterprise systems can be used to drive true business process transformation.
Contact Ultra to consider your strategies in the face of this new business environment.