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With over 60,000 customers and one million users, SAP Business One is the preferred ERP solution for small and midsized distributors and the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market share leader among small and midsized businesses (SMBs). SAP Business One helps distribution businesses serve their customers better and run more efficiently.

The supply chain network is becoming more complex, and your customers want more choices, faster fulfilment, and lower prices. Distributors running SAP Business One meet these expectations by gaining a single, transparent view of their warehouse and distribution operations. Integrated functionality around financials, operations, CRM, inventory, and payroll help them deliver goods on time, boost customer satisfaction, and optimise inventory.

Your business may stock and ship hard or soft goods, food, or other items with complex serialisation and lot tracking. Your business may be a mix of drop ship, third-party logistics (3PL), and stock and ship. No matter your distribution requirements, SAP Business One smooths your operations and improves your operating margin.

  1. ERP VS WMS
  2. Distribution Channels
  3. Indirect Channels
  4. Industry Challenges
  5. The 'Next Normal'
  6. Take the Next Steps
  7. Features and Benefits
  8. The Right Partner
  9. Customization
  10. Success Stories
  11. Get Started
  12. Additional Resources

 

erp software solutions for distribution

Why Distribution ERP Software is Critical Today

This blog explains why accounting software and inventory management applications can’t keep pace with modern business needs. It defines distribution software and explains how successful distribution companies use it to simplify operations with big-box retailers, online stores, Amazon, and eCommerce platforms.

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ERP VS WMS

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People often confuse ERP and warehouse management systems (WMS); they’re different but complementary. However, SAP Business One does both – it has inherent inventory management capabilities and can serve as a complete warehouse management system.

Warehouse management systems control warehouse operations and logistics management, including receiving, inspection, acceptance, put-away, picking, and shipping. Essentially, a WMS handles inventory movement and storage, whereas ERP software handles inventory movement and management. It accounts for the status of goods and automates company-wide customer service, invoicing, ordering, reporting business metrics, and other operations.

Integrating ERP and WMS delivers powerful results. When goods move within WMS, stock levels are adjusted, inventory accounts credited or debited, inventory variances accounted for, and customer delivery dates and notices updated.

 

warehouse management systems wms erp sap business one

Read our warehouse management guide

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Distribution Channels

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Today’s distribution channels include an array of options: the manufacturer, warehouses, shipping centres, retailers, and the internet. Due to recent events around COVID-19, direct-to-consumer (D2C) has become prevalent, enabling customers to buy goods directly from the manufacturer. There are also many indirect channels that help products reach customers.

Direct Channels for Savvy Distributors

There are many options for getting your products into customers’ hands. As a distributor, your goal is to protect margins and move products quickly to remain competitive. Consider:

  1. Shopify and other eCommerce platforms - ECommerce platforms make it easy for distributors to set up their own online stores and ship directly to customers. These platforms can integrate with ERP systems like SAP Business One via numerous integrations.
  2. D2C from Amazon, eBay, Facebook, etc - These popular shopping sites act as a virtual point of sale for distributors;they can take orders from the sites and ship directly to the customer. Brick-and-mortar stores also use this method to reduce warehouse costs. 
  3. Direct-to-business (D2B) -  If you’re a busines-to-business (B2B) company, you’ll need to send products directly to businesses to compete on margins and convenience. 
  4. B2B Portal- With B2B Marketplace, companies with SAP Business One can offer their customers a complete B2B shopping experience by giving them online access to order and account information in a familiar shopping cart.

Because D2B and D2C may now require you to track more information than in the past, you’ll need comprehensive, easy-access views into your stock status, logistics systems, vehicles, and delivery staff. This is in addition to what you already track – highlighting the need for ERP’s comprehensive tracking and ability to share information across the business.

Indirect Channels

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Amazon and large retailers can also serve as indirect channels for your distribution business. Some retailers use this method to maintain brand control and own the customer relationship.

To avoid juggling too many channels on your own, you may choose a 3PL company to perform the distribution functions to your widened customer audience.

Whether you handle it yourself or leverage a 3PL, electronic data interchange (EDI) is vital to success. EDI solutions, such as SPS Commerce, enable distributors to electronically exchange order information with a supply chain partner without manually entering or re-entering data – effectively automating any process. The result is swift order completion with no data entry errors.

SAP Business One leverages EDI to integrate your backend data, including sales, invoicing, production, scheduling, and shipping data and eliminates the manual processes associated with sharing data with business partners.

Our distributor customers use this four-step process:

  1. Step 1. A large retailer (e.g., Crabtree and Evelyn) gets a Shopify order.
  2. Step 2. The distributor receives the order into ERP via EDI.
  3. Step 3. The distributor’s ERP uses EDI to automatically start 3PL fulfilment actions.
  4. Step 4. The 3PL uses EDI to auto-update the distributor’s ERP with customer fulfilment data.
edi smb distributors sap business one erp

EDI 101: Your Questions Answered


This blog explains EDI and how savvy SMB distributors use it to beat much larger competitors. You’ll learn why EDI is a must-have in the age of Amazon and how SAP Business One makes it easy to use in your business.

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edi online retailers erp software sap business one

Why EDI Is Important for Retailers & Their Supply Chain Partners

Read this blog to understand the value retailers place on EDI. It highlights EDI’s benefits for retailers and explains how they save time and money by using it to automatically interact with supply chain partners.

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Industry Challenges

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With just a cursory understanding of ERP, WMS, and EDI, it’s easy to see that small and midsized distributors face challenges. Following are the three most common challenges:

  1. Having to lower prices to compete. Wholesale distributors have a history of thin profit margins, but lower than expected margins mean you have inefficient workflows, low inventory turns, or redundancies. Without a robust forecasting tool, your inventory will dip and spike unpredictably as market demands change. Product lifecycles can range from several months to a decade, underscoring the need for better forecasting.
  2. Inefficiencies from non-integrated software. Many distributors combine accounting applications like QuickBooks with spreadsheets to manage inventory. Others use inventory management applications with weak integrations to QuickBooks. Either way, data resides in multiple locations, which requires employees to re-enter information to complete tasks and reconcile systems. This leads to costly data entry errors along your chain of operations.
  3. Lack of integration with online retailers. Distributors engaged with online and offline retailers, including Amazon, need faster, more accurate invoicing practices. Retailers with Amazon-like models inform distributors of the volume of products sold at regular intervals; the distributor must invoice for the products sold. Add the days outstanding to Amazon’s standard ‘net 60’ payment terms, and you might wait 75 days for payments. Now add the potential for online sales spikes to your cash flow risk, and your business might have to turn down large orders because you lack the cash to fulfil them.

While these challenges are intensified in today’s market environment, modern distribution software lets you handle them with ease. Read the blog to understand how: 3 Common Distribution Challenges & How Technology Solves Them.

Robust inventory management helps distributors manage detailed warehouse data while tracking and recording stock movements. If your inventory management solution isn’t integrated with other applications, it’s difficult to obtain reliable, real-time information about inbound and outbound inventory shipments.

 

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Why Inventory Counting/Stock Checking is Important for Your Business

This blog explains why manually counting/checking stock is harmful and illustrates the dangers of three common scenarios. It also discusses ERP software for distribution checks and balances, such as detecting discrepancies. Included is a link to an information kit about in-depth inventory management issues and solutions.

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The Importance of Inventory
Valuation

This blog assumes inventory is your most significant asset and explains why accurate measurement and valuation are critical for producing meaningful financial statements. It also describes your main inventory valuation options and the effect the right choice has on profitability, taxes, and strategic planning.

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Distributors in the food & beverage and pharmaceutical industries must adopt technologies that support a wide range of compliance standards, particularly in product tracing. However, implementing product serialization capabilities – a prerequisite for product tracing – is challenging. You must enable collaboration with anywhere from tens to thousands of stakeholders in your supply chain and share the non-standardized data your supply chain partners need to do business with you.

Distributors with poor inventory visibility fail to integrate real-time inventory operations with their financials. But with margins tight, you need strong reporting to optimize inventory turns and tightly manage days sales outstanding (DSO). Many SMB distributors must manually aggregate data from multiple systems before they can report on it – a time-consuming and error-prone process.

The ‘Next Normal’

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Our ‘next normal’ arises from the need to be prepared for ongoing or sporadic circumstances that require social distancing within distribution operations and a shift toward D2C.

This will offer three new challenges:

  • Gaining better access to timely information
  • Developing D2C routes to market for a wide range of distributed products
  • Adapting working conditions for distance, sanitation, and efficiency

Modern B2B customers want Amazon-type data. They don’t want to order items you don’t have in stock, and they want exact delivery dates. You must meet their needs while keeping working conditions safe, efficient, and distanced.

Warehouse Automation for the Next Normal

Warehouse automation is more critical than ever. Even small operations can benefit from features in modern warehouse management systems, including:

  • Bar codes to improve accuracy and speed activities
  • Advanced picking schemes for higher worker productivity
  • Integrated shipping for faster order cycle times
  • Bins and locations that reduce picking time/distance and improve the restocking process
  • RFID for compliance with customer-specific labelling and shipping requirements
  • Container tracking for updated location knowledge and customs status
  • D2C features to get manufacturers closer to end customers

When integrated with ERP, there is so much a WMS can do for SMB distributors operating in the next normal.

 

erp wms integration sap business one

Why ERP & WMS Integration is Key for Warehouse Automation

This blog explains the significant differences between integrating versus interfacing ERP and WMS. It describes where ERP and WMS overlap and the benefits of complete integration within a single platform.

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Your Distribution…Simplified

This video explains how to overcome common distribution challenges with a single software platform: ERP software for distribution.

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Take the Next Steps

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When you decide it’s time for an ERP solution, it’s critical to choose the right one for your business – and the right partner.This step-by-step guide simplifies the ERP selection process. As the largest SAP Business One partner in the world, we present it based on hundreds of successful first-time ERP implementations.

 

erp solutions software sap business one distribution

Review the ERP software selection guide

Most established ERP platforms are sold and serviced through channel partners, and Vision33 is the largest SAP Business One channel partner in the world. After you’ve determined your top three choices of ERP software, consider the local partner’s qualifications. Your final decision should focus heavily on whether a partner has distribution industry expertise. 

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erp software distribution

Making Your ERP Shortlist: How to Decide Between Your Top 3 Choices

This blog emphasizes considering your distribution ERP software options carefully and why partner expertise and vendor support should weigh heavily in your decision. The blog also links to a six-step review process to ensure you didn’t miss critical selection criteria.

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Features and Benefits

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SAP Business One incorporates a wealth of features that drive distribution business efficiency and position your company for profitable growth. The platform’s six key features deliver unsurpassed operational benefits. They include:

Greater efficiency

via automated processes and integrated production functionality.

Improved customer service

via on-time delivery and fewer shortages/stock-outs, so your customers receive their orders when expected.

Reduced inventory costs

via more accurate demand forecasts and improved inventory control.

Higher profit margins

via a lean approach to operations and distribution, so you can grow the business without adding overhead costs.

Better visibility

via a single, transparent view of operations and inventory across multiple locations

Faster time to delivery

via streamlined order entry processing with real-time available to promise and instant pick-list generation.

The Right Partner

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With over 400 employees in our offices across North America and Europe, the Vision33 team has unmatched experience delivering solutions and services to the distribution industry. We’re the only SAP Business One partner that holds the AWS SAP Competency, and our Global Services group routinely helps SMBs expand into new geographies, making us the ideal implementation partner for growing businesses.

Post-implementation, Vision33 continues to deliver value through our industry-leading support program, TOTAL Care, and ongoing ideation and implementation of services from our world-class consulting team. The team helps customers innovate using the best distribution industry-specific add-ons and integrations to support new business initiatives and evolving market demands.

To learn more about Vision33’s extensive value-add services, including TOTAL Care, visit our SAP Services Page.

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Customization

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Small and midsized distributors perform better when using an ERP system that delivers features, functions, and workflows that match their company- and industry-specific needs. However, many ERP solutions are off-the-shelf applications that can’t be customized. Luckily, Vision33 has deep expertise in planning and implementing SAP Business One to enable industry-specific processes that work the way you work.

As the market share leader in ERP for SMBs, SAP Business One has a massive collection of customizations and add-ons that optimise the platform’s value. Our SAP-certified consultants will deploy SAP Business One to maximize your company’s unique differentiators, and SAP Business One’s broad range of capabilities will speed your operations and maximize your efficiencies.

cloud erp software sap business one

 

The Saltbox Platform by Vision33 is a cloud iPaaS (integration platform as a service) solution for enterprise integration, workflow, and collaboration between business applications. It provides a long list of pre-built connections for common business applications like Shopify, HubSpot, Concur, and Salesforce and technology connectors for SQL Server, JSON Converter, SAP HANA, REST API, and SMTP.

The Saltbox Platform supercharges your SAP Business One environment and increases the value of your existing business applications that integrate with SAP Business One.

Visit the integrations & Saltbox web page

Vision33 offers three value-add web portals for SAP Business One: Customer Portal, Vendor Portal, and Employee Portal. Each portal makes SAP Business One a powerful enabler for speeding daily work and saving your staff from the burden of mundane support tasks.

Customer Portal gives customers a secure, flexible, and personalised self-service gateway to retrieve and interact with information in a standard web browser. It’s a convenient way for your customers to make online payments and manage orders in an environment that builds your brand identity. Visit the web portal add-ons page

Vision33 offers an exciting extension to Customer Portal, called B2B Marketplace. Companies using B2B Marketplace with SAP Business One can offer their customers a complete B2B shopping experience by giving them online access to order and account information in a familiar shopping cart format – anytime, anywhere, on any device.

B2B Marketplace features include:

  • Easy access to account information
  • Advanced reporting and analytics
  • Support for multiple currencies and languages
  • Access to order history
  • Catalog views
  • Multiple payment options

Read more about B2B Marketplace

Your vendors have needs, and Vision33’s Vendor Portal provides real-time, on-demand access to multiple custom queries to meet those needs. Vendor Portal is a powerful integrated solution for online collaboration, with real-time workflow and data tracking through SAP Business One that makes it easy for others to do business with you. For example, vendors can get instant answers to inquiries regarding purchase orders, overdue shipments, open invoices, payment history, and inventory supply.

Read more about Vendor Portal

Vision33’s Employee Portal puts your employees in the driver’s seat with a real-time, web-based solution that’s seamlessly integrated with SAP Business One. Employee Portal is ideal for employees who don’t need a named SAP Business One user license but need to access its data. With real-time, on-demand data access, report viewing and modification, and user-level security, Employee Portal gives your staff cost-efficient and flexible tools to get their work done wherever they are.

Read more about Employee Portal

Success Stories

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Vision33 has helped many distribution companies transform their operational agility and efficiency using SAP Business One. Their customers appreciate the strategic capabilities and success in overcoming daily challenges like inventory management, on-time delivery, and product traceability down to the level of component tracking.

These companies are just a few that recognized the need for an all-in-one solution to manage every aspect of their warehouses and used SAP Business One to improve their distribution operations, including inventory, logistics, and forecasting.

Click on the customer video links to see how you can improve your distribution business with Vision33 and SAP Business One.

"SAP Business One has streamlined our processes and helped us become one of the fastest shippers in the industry. Whereas the competition can take several weeks to deliver an order, VIETRI can do it within 2 to 3 business days on average."


- Jody Davis, Customer Service and IT Manager, VIETRI

 

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sap business one accounting software erp solutions

 

Vision33’s nine-point comparison guide makes it easy for you to learn more about SAP Business One and how it compares to small business accounting software and other ERP Solutions


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erp sam business one for distribution

 

For a comprehensive set of SAP Business One resources, check out the SAP Business One information kit from our experts. It provides an in-depth look at the software and access to ERP solution briefs, videos, and demos – all designed to improve your operations.

See the kit