You’ve probably heard that many traditional brick and mortar stores are closing their doors due to the changing way that shoppers choose to do business. One by one they are disappearing. Retailers have announced plans to shutter more than 6,700 stores across the U.S. this year, CNN cited retail think-tank Fung Global Retail & Technology as saying.
Studies show that placing orders online from the comfort of home is the new normal. Businesses who do not modernize their systems and operations to make it easy for customers to engage with them are finding they cannot compete with the “big box” (big-budget) companies.
Technology is leveling the playing field for small businesses to be able to compete. With eCommerce integrated with ERP accounting and operations, you can access all the tools needed to get your products into the shopping carts of your customers. Many distributors realize that the path to profitability means modernizing technology to keep and grow their customers.
Here are some questions to ask when evaluating a comprehensive solution for your online distribution business.
- Can we easily control what products are displayed first to our customers to encourage the selection of higher profit products?
- Do you have an automated way to track leaking margins? Will your system identify pricing and contracts that are outside of our margin threshold? Are you able to adjust those prices easily with a click of a button?
- How does your system handle purchasing decisions? Can I identify the vendor pricing and make sure the first call vendor is the least cost option? Will the system take into consideration rebates to help in the purchasing decisions? Will it easily adjust who the first call vendor should be?
- Does your system deal with exception-based purchasing such as wholesaler stock-outs, special orders, and inventory replenishment? Does it allow for routine purchases that do not need attention, so you don’t waste time?
- Are you able to minimize resources to process orders in the warehouse? Is there configurable pick/pack/ship functionality to maximize warehouse efficiency?
- Can you run Financial Statements at any time during the month to view your financial position?
- Are your Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) able to view all customer activity in one spot to answer questions quickly?
- Do you have EDI functionality that is embedded in the software or do you use third party vendors?
- Are Returns easy to process and do they reflect the correct costs to return to inventory?
- Can Users access the software from any device?
With fierce competition all around you, doing nothing is not an option. Please feel free to use these questions to make sure you are getting technology that will pay off with more orders, more customers and streamlined workflows.
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Business Management International (BMI) is dedicated to bringing business technology to independent distributors to help them compete. We're not afraid to offer radically great customer service and proudly offer Microsoft Dynamics NAV to solve real-world business problems. www.bmiusa.com.