The 4 Challenges of Data & Reporting in Wholesale

In this article, we take a look at the 4 biggest challenges of data and reporting in a wholesale/distribution business. you’ll discover why having access to and reporting on all your data from different systems can prevent you from making decisions based on the most up to date information, create inefficiency within your business and waste valuable time.

In wholesale there is a lot of data that needs to be managed. Data from various systems is accessed and reported on at different times or locations which leads to inefficiency and wasted time. For example, if you have a store software like Shopify, you can gather all your sales data there but often you will need to extract it to another report to see how that data looks in your Excel reports for taxes etc.

Let’s take a closer look at the 4 biggest challenges a Wholesale & Distribution business faces with data and reporting, understand why this is important and the overall impact it can have on your business.

There are 4 challenges we’ve identified with data management systems for wholesale companies:

[1] Data from different systems is not centralised: When your data and systems are disconnected and inaccurate, it is hard to keep up with the competition in the wholesale distribution industry.

[2] Access to real-time data is difficult to come by: Accessing and reporting all your data from different systems wastes time, creates inefficiency, and does not provide real-time information for your wholesale business.

[3] Manual entry of vast amounts of data is the norm: While systems can help with automation and processing, data still needs to be verified with sources on the front-end side of things, such as shipping manifests and sales orders. This is where data quality comes into play, as it’s nearly impossible to efficiently manage data without consistent quality.

[4] Data/information is not available at the right times: Data accuracy and consistency between the different parts of the business is a critical factor in where a company’s gross margin is going. But it takes diligence to keep data up to date, which can be time consuming, costly and at times extremely frustrating.

It’s difficult to make business decisions when you don’t have all the right updated information and It’s no secret that using databases, spreadsheets and business applications across multiple business units can be challenging.

As a wholesale distributor, or a leader of a team within one, you know that staying competitive means embracing technology. The difficulty is determining where to invest your time and money. The more complex your distribution operation, the more critical it is to automate the data flow — delivering information to the right people at the right time in a way that helps decision making.

The ability to access and report on accurate, timely data can make or break a wholesale business. Therefore, it is critical for you to have a single source from which you can pull all information needed.

SAP Business One can help you connect all your disparate systems and data together, while providing real-time information for decision making. Using our software means you can spend less time accessing and reporting your data and more time taking advantage of it. It allows you to access all of your data through a simple interface and gives a complete overview of your wholesale business by providing reports at the touch of a button. The software allows you to easily scale your business without having to invest in additional hardware, thus lowering your costs.

Discover how SAP Business One can resolve these issues and provide real-time access throughout your network via a single solution for everyone, from the top-table through to the warehouse.

Click here to download your SAP Business One info pack for the Wholesale Distribution industry.

Slow response to demand change in the wholesale distribution industry

Slow response to demand change in any business can be a major tipping point. To fight this, you need a reliable business intelligence platform.

In today’s marketplace, companies need to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to demand changes. Companies that are effective at managing their inventory have a competitive edge in this marketplace. It is easy to manage demand at the beginning of a sales cycle. This becomes much more challenging at the end when the customer wants an immediate finish product or service. Wholesalers and Distributors find themselves faced with many challenges during these situations.

They are simultaneously planning future inventory levels based on;

 

Forecasts of future demand, placing orders for immediate fulfilment, and managing shipments as the products are delivered.

 

The distributor fills the warehouse based upon the forecasted demand. They then place purchase orders for replenishment based on the trend analysis. If inventory turns faster than expected, they may need to place additional purchase orders before they see actual demand. If this scenario continues for too long, it can lead to high inventory levels at the distribution centre, which has its own cost implications in terms of space and labour.

Business is all about having the right products in the right place at the right time. Wholesalers and distributors have a full plate keeping up on changing things: prices, operational costs, populations, regulations and so much more. Add to this uncertainty in customer demand and you have a recipe for wait-times that can cost your company not only profit margins but sales as well.

The topic of supply chain management is a huge one. Most people think about managing suppliers across multiple locations or companies who want to move product quickly. However, there’s a need from customers to make quick changes based on current demand. Customer demand is changing all the time, products are being updated or even discontinued.

To avoid slow response to demand change, businesses need a modern approach. They need something that helps them update their;

 

Stock and pricing, re-route sales orders and manage deliveries in real-time and maintain high levels of availability of inventory.

 

Businesses in all industries have to deal with changes in demand situations on a daily basis. The impact of such a change in demand on the overall business can be devastating. Most often businesses do not respond to such changes fast enough which results in low revenue growth, high operational expenses, and poor customer satisfaction.

 

The market is changing, and supply chain organizations need to be more agile.

 

With the increasing complexity of today’s business environment, it has become very tough for business managers to focus and plan for every demand situation. Managers end up wasting time and resources on redundant planning exercises instead of focusing time and energy on developing the business strategy.

Luckily, SAP Business One helps you anticipate and react faster to customer demands.

SAP Business One enables a direct connection between your business and your customers in real time, enabling you to respond faster to customer demand changes and creating a lean and efficient supply chain. It is able to connect users in real time, which means that information can be accessed instantly

Key benefits of SAP Business one includes the ability to generate sales forecasts, providing real-time visibility into critical trends and comprehensive analysis to help identify, understand, and resolve potential issues. This not only helps you respond faster to customer demand changes but also helps you stay competitive at a lower cost.

SAP Business One helps you respond quickly to the changing demands of your customers. So, you can stay close to your customers and deliver what they want exactly when they want it.

Click here to download your SAP Business One info pack for the Wholesale Distribution industry.

Reduce Your Time Duplicating Information Entry

Duplicating information entry can sometimes seem to consume most of our time during our working lives.

The fact is that most people spend much of their working hours poorly duplicating information entry. In most organizations, the same data is continually entered into multiple systems and even though there are often automated checks in place for a lot of this data, it seems the human factor falls into a few common issues:

The problem with each of these issues is that they could be time-consuming for you and your colleagues as well as increasing costs within your organization. You’re using manpower to enter the same information over and over again. That may be okay for now, but let’s look at where it could lead:

Increased volume of data entry

More time required

Errors in orders/shipping

 

Whether you call it information or data entry, the act of keying in details can quickly become a repetitive task. When you’re working with large amounts of data, the process can be tedious and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are ways to streamline your data entry processes and eliminate wasted time spent repeating tasks.

That’s where SAP Business One comes in. Solution: SAP Business One software is a business all-in-one software package. Small companies can get the efficiency they need to compete in today’s world … It takes a lot of effort away from repetitive tasks, so you can spend more time on the tasks that increase revenue, engage with your customers, and boost employee productivity.

SAP Business One gives you the tools needed to enter data once, and have it conveyed across multiple applications, removing the need to duplicate staff efforts in different forms of business processes.

Click here to download your SAP Business One info pack for the Wholesale Distribution industry.

Inventory: The Wholesale Distribution Pain Point

Inventory. You’ve heard the word before and you might even dread it, especially if you’re in an industry like wholesale distribution. But don’t worry, we’re going to take a look at the wholesale distribution industry’s top inventory problems and a few suggestions on how to address them.

Inventory management is the process of keeping track of items that are stored, purchased, and sold by a company. The main purpose of this practice is to ensure that an organization always has enough raw materials and finished products to support its operations, as well as meet expected customer demand.

Although manually managing inventory is easy, it is quite challenging and time-consuming for companies to effectively track and manage their inventories especially small businesses. It just takes up too much time from our daily routine.

The Wholesale distribution industry is known to have a major inventory pain point.

It is the inability to make timely decisions for managing their inventory. This is a concern especially in a fast-paced environment such as grocery distribution. As business grows and competition heats up, the ability to manage inventory like a pro is extremely necessary. With shipping delay being a common characteristic of this industry, it is becoming even more difficult to manage inventory without using technology.

The wholesale distribution business model involves a large amount of inventory being stored within a central location and then distributed out to retail stores. Inventory management in this industry is key, and everything from product damage, theft, spoilage, and obsolete product has to be managed on a daily basis. Having the right tools in place to make these decisions can save companies significant amounts of money, protecting the bottom line.

The ability to track and report the movement of your inventory is crucial to your accounting system. It’s also a huge challenge for those in wholesale, because when it comes to getting paid you need to know exactly what has been sold so that you can send out accurate invoices and receive payment on time.

Managing inventory across multiple locations and warehouses can be a huge pain. From the garage to the warehouse, from coast to coast, businesses are finding it hard to manage freight, deliveries, and pick-ups.

Maintaining an effective inventory management system is critical for the success of any wholesale distributor. Manual processes and bad, outdated systems hamper growth, increases errors, and leads to customer dissatisfaction

You have two choices for controlling inventory, first is through a traditional pen and paper system which is slow, inaccurate, and inefficient. Second is through an ERP system like SAP Business One.

When comparing the leading enterprise hosted software options, it is quite easy to see that SAP Business One stands out from the crowd.

SAP Business One offers an easy-to-use solution to take total control over your inventory and gives you peace of mind knowing that all movements of products are verified against actual stock levels. This allows you to increase productivity and reduce costs

SAP Business One brings powerful insights into your entire business in one place. Whether you have 3 or 3000 warehouses, whether it is the main warehouse or a small satellite location, SAP Business One makes it easy for you to get a 360-degree view of your operations.

Click here to download your SAP Business One info pack for the Wholesale Distribution industry.

 

Telltale Signs You’ve Outgrown your business software

Have you outgrown your business software? If so, it’s probably costing your business more time and money than it’s worth.

If you run a business, it can sometimes be tempting to put off updating your systems. However if your system is over 5 years old and not scalable it could be putting your business at risk. Systems need to keep up with the changing world around us. But, that’s hard to do if the systems are becoming outdated. You used to have the next best thing when you were a smaller business. At least, it was the best thing until you were growing by leaps and bounds and found yourself in need of something more.

Is this story familiar? That is okay because you are not alone.

Many businesses grow out of their existing software because it either can’t handle the growth or new features that are needed as the company changes.

In this scenario you can often feel like you are spending too much of your time in the office putting out fires instead of focusing on doing the work that will grow your business. But once the fire is out and you sit back to survey the damage, you often find the same thing was responsible for several of those fires: your business software. When this happens, it’s prime time to replace your old software with a new software solution!

In this article we’ll show you how to tell when it’s time to move onto something new so your company can experience business growth again.

It isn’t uncommon for businesses to outgrow their software. Once you’re dealing with small software errors, notifications and updates that are no longer relevant, or a slow and clunky interface, it’s not surprising your tech can be causing more harm than good. To make a profit, you need to have business software which supports your company growth. A poorly designed system can hold you back from thriving in today’s business environment.

When it comes to IT, businesses want the best. They want systems that can handle any and all of their processing needs seamlessly and flawlessly. However, after a while things start to feel sluggish – tasks take longer than they should or need to be re-tried because the computer couldn’t keep up with demand. There’s only so much work your existing system can do before it hits a wall and business slows down.

When this happens, you’ve outgrown your current IT systems and need to upgrade – but how do you know when that time has come?

There are several telltale signs that can help you determine whether you’ve outgrown your business software. These include:

Recurring headaches about reporting

As your company grows, data and transactions grow, in both volume and complexity

Numerous integration hassles

A second sign that you have outgrown your current system and infrastructure is the increasing time spent integrating disparate systems and aligning data from multiple sources

Rigid systems that limit flexibility

Expanding into new regions or product lines means dealing with a rigid system and considerable IT effort.

Too many unsupported business processes

As you expand, the need to support new business processes is stronger. A patchwork of systems and spreadsheets can leave your entire business processes totally unsupported.

Manual processes that drain time and resources

If your business relies on manual processes to complete routine transactions, a new solution can free up time. It can also reduce waste and avoid problems.

If you’re experiencing any of the above, you may be able to reap tremendous benefits by updating your systems. Increased business agility, reduced downtime, improved employee, and customer satisfaction exceeded goals and more.

 

Want to learn more? Join our FREE webinar in on the 16th of March where we will discuss how you can remedy these telltale signs and level up your business.

 

Live Webinar Banner Ad

How you can contact us during the festive period

You can contact your Signum support team between normal office hours of 9.00am and 17.30pm on 29th, 30th and 31st December.

In order for us to ensure your enquiry is dealt with swiftly during this festive period, we ask that any new tickets are logged via your new customer support portal following web address eu.myconnectwise.net/signum or alternatively by emailing support@signum-solutions.co.uk

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all from the Signum Team.

Signum Solutions launches new educational video series – ‘SAP Business One Back to Basics’ – Expertise in bitesize pieces for busy people.

Signum Solutions are excited to announce the launch of our new online training initiative – ‘Back to Basics’. An on-demand video series that has been specifically designed for both current and new users of SAP Business One.

‘Back to Basics’ is a free, comprehensive and continual video training series that comprises of a collection of short step by step video tutorials and covers subjects to not only help get you get started on your SAP Business One journey but to also serve as a reminder for long standing users who want to brush up on the core functionality.

The video tutorials are taught by an active SAP Business One consultant and cover a wide range of topics from administration to warehousing and everything in between!

So, whether you are new to the world of SAP Business One or a long-standing user of the system, Signum’s collection of educational videos are available to help you gain the most out of your ERP solution.

Available to watch on any device, at any time, with no restrictions – the Back to Basics video series helps you and your team brush up on the fundamentals for success.

You can access the tutorials here 

To discover more about the benefits of SAP Business One training from Signum, check out our Train and Maintain in depth courses or alternatively, contact marketing@signum-solutions.co.uk

How you can stay productive whilst remote working (Infographic)

We have been told for years “you shouldn’t bring your work home with you” – but that’s not very logical if you now work from your home.

Many people across the UK are currently following government guidelines and working remotely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe. This is a major change for businesses and employees alike.

For some, everyday life has just taken a major (unplanned) turn and it can be difficult to adjust.

Being honest, there has always been a general perception that working from home was a dream – you can get up later, no long commute to the office and you can work in your PJ’s!

Sadly, the reality is that working from home is HARD.

Yes, you get the extra few minutes in bed. Your commute is a walk to your laptop rather than a trek to the office in rush hour traffic and well, it’s personal preference in regard to your attire.

Working remotely is often no dream. In the real world, it can be very hard to stay motivated and be productive whilst it’s all too easy to feel isolated, especially if your used to working in a bustling social environment.

To aid you in your transition to remote working, we’ve put together this infographic with some handy tips to help you remain productive, motivated and connected.

Download Infographic

SAP Business One support during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Yesterday, the Prime Minister advised all those that can work at home to do so. This can have a huge impact on business operations and it’s important to ensure your business has a contingency plan to minimize the disruption whilst you move to remote working.

How will this affect us at Signum Solutions?

We are in a good position at Signum as we have fully embraced cloud technology and all our key operational systems are cloud-based, including our telephone system. We have provided access to communication and collaboration tools to ensure our colleagues can continue to operate as a cohesive team whilst working remotely.

How will this affect Signum Solutions customers?

Our help desk and consultancy teams are able to operate from any location and the level of service to our customers should be minimally impacted. Other than not seeing us in person, you may experience a small delay on response times (especially if our staff become affected by the virus) but overall, we are operating as business as usual.

Our Consulting team have been advised not to have face to face meetings unless they are absolutely necessary. We appreciate consulting and implementation activities are very important, so wherever possible we will continue to work with our customers and suppliers via web meetings and conference calls. If a face to face meeting is required, we will risk asses each appointment prior to confirmation.

 

If you are a current Signum Solutions customer or an existing SAP Business One user and wish to discuss any aspect of the support we can offer, please do get in touch. You can call us directly on 01244 676 900 or alternatively, to request a callback, complete the form here.

Automating food and beverage, manufacturing and wholesale business processes

Food and beverage, manufacturing and wholesale distribution are often costly and time-sensitive industries which are reliant on effective supply chains and efficient warehouse management. Any hold up with order processing and fulfilment, purchase order approvals or payment processing, can have a significant knock-on effect for the entire running of the business.

Technology solutions that can streamline operations and make warehousing and stock management easier to oversee are therefore becoming extremely important; especially in this digital age.

Although SAP Business One is a proficient system for managing a company’s finances, customers and suppliers, many companies use additional applications or systems (warehouse management systems, eCommerce, EDI platforms etc.) to perform a specific task or manage a particular aspect of the business.

In order for companies to be efficient, these systems need to be integrated to allow the sharing of data between them, so that each part of the food and beverage, manufacturing or wholesale process can run as smoothly as possible. Technology solutions, such as BPA Platform, can improve the way that data is presented by automating numerous business processes and administration tasks, enhancing communication between departments, suppliers and customers.

Bridging the gap between SAP Business One and disparate applications makes sure that each application contains the most up-to-date information and that the organisation has full visibility into real-time data. This allows employees and management to make critical business decisions, helping to increase performance, improve efficiencies and drive revenue growth.

Integrating SAP Business One with the warehouse

Integrating SAP Business One with warehouse management systems and then automating business processes, is one area that manufacturers and distributors can benefit from. A dedicated solution can automatically transfer a wide range of data into a warehouse management system (WMS) from SAP Business One, including product, customer and supplier data, along with purchase orders, sales orders, sales returns and stock changes.

This enables the WMS to recognise products when they are scanned, understand what goods are being received, manage sales orders, enable goods to be picked and dispatched, as well as update stock levels and new stock that has been added.

Data also needs to be transferred the other way, making sure that SAP Business One is up to date, and that is has a record of purchase order receipts, sales order dispatches, sales order returns, stock additions and write offs. Once orders are shipped, job completion notifications can be imported from the warehouse management system to SAP Business One.

Automating sales orders and payments

Many companies can simply suffer from an increase in the volume of sales and daily orders, with the large amount of manual administration required to process orders becoming prohibitive and time-consuming. Automating this process can alleviate the problem.

BPA Platform can be used to integrate a wide range of third-party systems with SAP Business One, ranging from web shops and eCommerce platforms (Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce) to online payment systems (GoCardless, PayPal, Stripe, Worldpay). It can then easily automate the transfer of data held within these systems to SAP Business One, thus saving employee time, eliminating data errors, providing real-time information and improving the entire sales process.

For larger companies using an EDI Package, BPA Platform can integrate it with SAP Business One and then automate the transfer of orders. This can include placing some basic rules validation for orders received from customers, such as price checking, and ensuring that each order has a unique purchase order number.

Sales orders can then be imported from external sources into SAP Business One and order confirmations exported from SAP Business One to the EDI package. Furthermore, resulting invoices can be synchronised between systems to eradicate unnecessary data entry. For customers with complex requirements, it is also possible to generate documents, such as recurring sales orders.

Fulfilment and courier integration

BPA Platform has also been used to great effect at the despatch end of the order process, by integrating SAP Business One with the systems and web services of courier organisations. Automating this process means that delivery details no longer have to be manually entered. The delivery labels can be automatically generated and printed after the ‘pick and pack’ process is complete. This can eliminate data errors and result in significant time savings.

Using BPA Platform for integration and automation

Codeless Platforms’ BPA Platform , which is SAP-certified for SAP HANA, SQL and SAP Cloud, provides organisations using SAP Business One and other solutions with an affordable data integration platform to connect systems, departments and people.

The dedicated SAP Business One Connector enables organisations to integrate SAP Business One with practically any on-premises or cloud-based application at a fraction of the cost of bespoke development. More importantly, its drag and drop integration tools ensure that you can rapidly automate business processes to reduce operational costs and improve company performance.

Combined with Signum’s knowledge and experience in implementing BPA Platform to suit your exact requirements, your next SAP Business One integration and business process automation projects couldn’t be simpler.

If you wish to discuss the benefits of SAP Business One and the BPA platform in more detail, call one of our industry experts on 01244 676 900 or alternatively, complete the form here to arrange a personalised demonstration.