B2B | B2C | DTC

Distribution Software - ERP Solutions for Distributors

Stay Competitive with Right-Sized Cloud ERP For Distribution

Capture Market Share

Today’s Distribution Companies are at the center of a global supply chain; providing the critical link that connects the manufacturer’s goods with customers through many different channels, Wholesale Trade, Business to Business (B2B), Business to Consumer (B2C), and Direct to Consumer (DTC). They are balancing the challenges of a dramatic increase in demand, rapidly changing expectations from global partnerships, and increasing competition from opportunistic start-ups looking to capture market share. With that expansion also comes an increased need for advanced software distribution tools. 

SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Business One Extensions

Get a Handle on Complex Supply Chains

The scope of Distribution companies has expanded rapidly in the last few years; adding to the challenges of the supply chain, logistics, warehouse, inventory, and the list goes on. Each link in the distribution supply chain is critical to delivering the goods and services demanded by the end consumer.

Navigator Business Solutions offers a unique solution for Distribution Companies combining a purpose-built suite-in-a-box cloud platform with years of Distribution Industry experience that has resulted in a portfolio of successful projects.

With continually expanding and complicated supply chains, distribution organizations hold the opportunity, good or bad, to impact sales volumes for manufacturers and retailers.

Incorporate flexible warehouse and manufacturing functions to fit your products and business model.

Uni-ball Launches its North America Subsidiary with SAP Business ByDesign

“There were a couple factors that probably pushed us toward SAP Business ByDesign. Number one is that the legacy system for Mitsubishi Pencil is SAP, so there was a feeling that staying with the SAP technology stack would be a good move long-term,”

- Paul Schorr, Lead IT Advisor at Uni-ball

After looking at NetSuite, Oracle and the other major ERP options, uni-ball quickly zeroed in on SAP Business ByDesign, a cloud-based ERP solution for subsidiaries and fast-growing companies.

Read the Success Story

How global pen manufacturer, Uni-ball launched its North American subsidiary and is transforming its business with the help of SAP Business ByDesign.

DISTRIBUTION SUCCESS STORIES

“I think Cloud ERP's have a unique set of advantages versus older. on-premise systems. . . They are well-suited for eCommerce brands, direct brands, and provides all the multi-language, multi-currency functionality we wanted without a lot of the legacy processes more suited to brick-and-mortar”
Uline Riebe
Head of Finance
Rothy's
Rothys

Distribution SUCCESS STORIES

“Even though we don’t have a lot of customization, we do have a lot of integration. Navigator has a lot of experience integrating with our big customers such as Amazon and Walmart, and they have helped with multiple implementations of SAP Business ByDesign using our preferred EDI [electronic data interchange] partner, SPS Commerce."
Paul Shorr
Lead IT Advisor
Uniball
Uniball Logo

Distribution SUCCESS STORIES

“What really attracted us to the software was that it was in the cloud, and that seemed to be where technology was going,” . . . “We were kind of tired of the headaches of hosting our own server in our office, having to do maintenance, and worrying about downtime. So that convenience of having all that managed by SAP was a big bonus for us.”
Eric Johnson
VP of Operations
Countrywide Tire
Countrywide Logo

Find Out How We’ve Helped Others Meet Their Goals

Explore our client's success stories.

Configurable cloud-built distribution software, specific for your distribution company

The question of why your company may need ERP is usually brought up by growing pains your company is experiencing. 

play

You may be currently experiencing trouble with:

  • orders getting lost or being sent to wrong locations
  • continual price changes causing pricing errors that eat into profit
  • broken communication between departments, warehouses, and distribution centers
  • workflow issues that cause wrong processes and lead to unhappy customers & loss in profits

An SAP Solution Built for Small and Midsize Distribution Organizations (B2B, B2C, DTC)

Today's dynamic business environment requires distribution industry players to be nimble in order to stay competitive - they must provide the end-customer with the options to purchase goods where, when and how they need them.

To support these more complex demands, companies need to adopt right-sized ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions to streamline business processes such as logistics, transportation, warehousing, and e-Commerce while providing real-time analytics anytime anywhere. Distribution management software needs to provide all these solutions along with the option to grow with your enterprise.

Navigator Business Solutions, using a leading SAP cloud-based solution along with its 15 years of expertise built as the leader in the cloud space, has developed industry best practices for distribution companies; all delivered by seasoned experts. The right Platform, the right solution, and the right partner help guide you and your team through a successful digital transformation management.

How are you addressing:

  •      Your customer’s Omni-Channel demands?
  •      Ensuring you have the inventory where and when you need it to meet your customer’s demands?
  •      Remaining competitive by reducing operating expenses?
  •      What Plans do you have to grow your revenue?
  •      Does your current set of systems automate your business processes so you can scale?
  •      What are your challenges across your distribution chain?
  •      How easy is it for you to access one version of the truth using trusted data?

Does your company face any of these distribution management software requirements?

  •      Internet Portals – eCommerce, Shopping Carts
  •      Forecasting and Demand Planning
  •      Customer Relationship Management (CRM Software)
  •      Quality (Shipping and Returns)
  •      Supply Chain Management Software
  •      Quoting and Estimating
  •      Order Processing
  •      Warehouse Management
  •      Landed Costs
  •      Purchasing
  •      Multiple Currencies
  •      Multiple Countries

 

For a complex industry like distribution, it is more when, than if you will run into a disruption in your supply chain.  When evaluating ERP solutions make sure it have analytical capabilities and reporting built in to help mitigate management disruptions and minimize the financial impact.

If your supply chains cross borders, your ERP software must be able to manage multi-country and multi-currency financials. SAP’s Cloud based ERP solutions, delivered by Navigator Business Solutions provides unparalleled capabilities to meet your multi-country, multi-currency requirements.

Navigator Business Solutions is in a position to guide your distribution company through the best fit Cloud ERP solution that will address your specific management needs from a single or multi-warehouse distribution network through to a centralized purchasing environment.

Warehouse Management Solution (WMS)

loxodo-logo-400.200-min

Loxodo is warehouse management made for today: simple, capable, and robust. Enable your team with the software that will make a difference on your bottom line.

Loxodo is designed for small to mid-size companies running SAP Business One or SAP Business ByDesign and are looking for:

Efficiency & transparency in your warehouse systems management
An intuitive & capable user interface
Interconnected logistics with 3PL and EDI systems

What is Distribution ERP Software?

ERP for distribution companies generally presents a toolkit to manage logistics operations first and foremost. Additional activities that distribution ERP tackles include back-end processes such as financial management activities and customer relationship management. While ERP systems for distribution focus on making inventory, logistics, and warehousing simple and efficient, those solutions also need to include all the features of a holistic planning and management solution.

Among the critical advantages that our solutions offer over less agile products is the ability to customize various modules to suit your organizational needs. Purchasing, accounting, HR, sales, and other operations can all be made to function under one overarching system.

What are the Benefits of ERP for Distributors?

Since distribution presents a specific set of challenges, the right ERP solution will be tailored to provide solutions to these challenges.

Inventory management is one of the main challenges you likely face as a distributor and among the most reliant on software solutions. Capably implemented distribution software can automate your entire inventory management process to minimize any manual planning, greatly reducing error rates. Inventory management software with scaling capabilities can also grow with your company and eliminate the need for cumbersome upgrades in the future.

Distribution business software also provides instant visibility across your entire organization. Stakeholders can visualize inbound and outbound product flow with ease at the touch of a button.

Additionally, comprehensive ERP solutions offer accurate demand planning which helps cut down on excess inventory and ensures streamlined turnover.

What are the Key Features to Look for in ERP Software for Distribution?

Some of the features you’ll want to consider when choosing distribution software include:
Easy procurement management capabilities. Handling third-party data with ease, scheduling shipments, and establishing recurring purchase orders greatly simplify your operational performance.

Customer relationship management that includes individual customer insights, estimates and quotes tracking, and opportunity analytics.

Warehouse management goes without saying but specific features to look for include kitting and tagging, outbound processing, wave and load planning, and demand planning to name a few. Getting the right features implemented highly depends on the capabilities of your vendor and it’s the biggest determiner of how much value your distribution ERP provides.

Modern ERP systems designed for distributors should automate sourcing and order processing, which translates to less paper used, fewer errors, and increased efficiency.

How to Choose the Right ERP Software for Distribution?

There are many different ERP software available on the market. Given the wide variety of options, it can be difficult to choose which one suits your needs best. The following are some features that you should consider when choosing an ERP software:

Scalability: how easily can the software be scaled up or down? Does it have a modular architecture?

Scaling up or down is a major issue with many software solutions. A modular software architecture will help make it easier to scale up or down. This can be done by adding or removing modules to the software without having to change the core of the system.

Support: what kind of support does the company provide for their product? Do they offer phone support, email support, videos, tutorials, and more?

Chances are that you’ll be using a system for years once you commit to it, so three’s every reason to expect support along the way. Look for a company that backs up it’s software with solid and consistent support. You’ll want to feel like you’re working with a partner, not simply a vendor.

Cost: It seems obvious, but looking at the cost of the software should be a top priority. And not just the upfront cost but other investments you might have to make along the way, what pricing options are available, and how willing a vendor is to work around your budget.

Resources

See our Industry-specific Cloud ERP Solutions in Action

Watch an on-demand SAP Business One Distribution Demo

SAP Business ByDesign for Wholesale Distributors

Read how Navigator utilizes SAP solutions to help distribution companies like yours scale for years to come.

Top 7 Supply Chain Challenges

Read the Top Seven Supply Chain Challenges

SAP Business One for Wholesale Distributors

ERP provides a single end-to-end system, read the ERP Guide for Distributors.

How to Thrive in the Changing Wholesale Distribution Landscape

The wholesale distribution business is changing. Brought about by online marketplaces, the digitization of the buyer journey, wide availability of real-time data, and even a dash of artificial intelligence, wholesale distributors face an inflection point: Do they adjust to these rapid changes and modernize their operations, or slowly cede ground to distributors and new competitors that do embrace the wholesale distribution landscape today?


This inflection point isn’t just a matter of survival, of course. It also is an opportunity for capturing a larger share of the market and adding new lines of revenue as the industry is shaken up by changes in technology and buying patterns. The best-run wholesale distributors will benefit from these changes, even if modernization is a matter of necessity.

Challenge #1: The End of Specialization

Narrow wholesale distribution is falling by the wayside as the lines between manufacturing, wholesale and retail
blur. Online sales channels are reducing the role of wholesale distributors as manufacturers are selling directly to
retailers and often directly to consumers.

At the same time, eCommerce giants such as Amazon are using their platforms and logistical expertise to expand
from the business-to-consumer model to also include business-to-business offerings.

These shifts are forcing distributors to similarly expand. Specialized distribution is giving way to a broader portfolio
of product and service offerings, such as moving from strict wholesale distribution of plumbing supplies to also
including electrical and HVAC. Narrow product distribution is also being replaced by a basket of offerings that
includes value-added services.

Challenge #2: Changing Customer Behavior

Both the way that customers are buying and their expectations are changing as a result of technology.The typical
business customer is more strapped for time than in the past and has come to expect a buying experience that
resembles consumer purchasing. This has raised expectations around speed, simplicity, availability, reliability and
personalization when it comes to purchasing from wholesale distributors.

The buying journey has increasingly become digital, too, with purchases taking place through mobile and
web-based channels, as well as text messages, voice commands, chatbots, automated ordering through enterprise
resource planning systems, and through a variety of online marketplaces. Wholesale distributors are faced with
expanding their range of channels for sales and support and making the handoff seamless among these channels.

Buyers are also researching purchases online more before the sale, coming in with far greater knowledge, and
requiring that product and service information be readily available online. Roughly 64 percent of B2B buyers now
research at least half of their work purchases online, according to Forrester Research.

Along with these changes comes the demand for a more robust customer experience, including seamless
multi-channel communication, greater product information, and more communication among departments.

Challenge #3: New Business Models and Fresh Thinking

Traditionally, wholesale distributors have acted as intermediaries between suppliers and customers. The basic business model of warehousing products is no longer sufficient given the blurring of the lines brought about by online purchasing, so distributors now must reinvent their businesses. This requires both new technology and fresh thinking in management approaches.

"Best-run" wholesale distributors leverage technology and empower employees to focus on-value tasks, improved decision-making, and the ability to move opportunistically into adjacent market” notes a recent IDC report, Becoming a Best-Run Midsize Wholesale Distributor

Attracting top talent is an urgent need for many distributors today. This requires modernizing operations and creating a positive work environment with easy-to-use tools, employee collaboration, and a minimum of mindless tasks.

At the same time, developing innovative business models requires the best of current and future technology. Many wholesale distributors run their operations with aging or patched-together systems that served the industry in the past but now limit innovation and changing business models.

Specifically, legacy IT systems cage data in system silos that reduce informational use and overall operational visibility and hinder real-time operations. Aging IT systems also limit the opportunities for taking advantage of advanced automation and new technologies such as artificial intelligence. They discourage the top talent needed for innovation from joining firms, too.

How Top Distributors are Handling Modernization

Wholesale distributors are addressing the changing distribution landscape in a variety of ways, but three clear priori- ties emerge for distributors that are considered the best run.

Improving productivity. Roughly 39 percent of the best-run wholesale distributors consider productivity improvements a key business priority, according to IDC research. Among all wholesale distributors, only 28 percent consider it important.

Adding new revenue streams. A second top priority right now for the most successful wholesale distributors is adding additional revenue streams to combat the chipping away of traditional lines of business. IDC research has found that 38 percent of the best-run wholesale distributors are focusing on the development of new revenue streams, compared with only 24 percent overall and 20 percent of the wholesale distributors that are lagging behind.

Transforming the business. The most significant difference between best-run wholesale distributors and the competition is a focus on overall business transformation from management to ground-floor operations. IDC found that 34 percent of wholesale distributors that are considered best-run believe business transformation a top priority, compared with only 23 percent of wholesale distributors overall and 10 percent among the businesses that are lagging behind.

Transforming Your Wholesale Distribution Business

Adapting to the changing market for wholesale distribution and thriving in this new environment requires several deep adjustments within the typical business. The best wholesale distribution companies are undergoing these adjustments and staying competitive.

While there is no one right approach for meeting the modernization challenge, five key strategic priorities consistently emerge among the best-run wholesale distribution businesses right now.

Key #1: Focusing on Strategy Over Operations

The wholesale distribution industry, partially owing to its foundation in bridging the gap between manufacturers and customers, has historically focused on operational needs. The best-run wholesale distributors are shifting instead to a more strategic focus that aligns operations with the larger management goals of business growth and better serving customers.

Establishing strategic metrics and monitoring these metrics through data intelligence is a big part of addressing industry change for the most successful wholesale distributors. These wholesale distributors are shifting to analyzing data as a central part of their business management.

While the typical wholesale distributor primarily uses data for increased operational efficiency, according to IDC research, top distributors focus less on data for operational efficiency and use it instead for a wider range of business goals. These uses include:
• Improving customer service
• Gaining customer insights
• Improving access to employee data
• Generating additional revenue streams
• Gaining competitive insights
• Driving product innovation

Of course, the best wholesale distributors also use data for operational efficiency. This focus on data and strategic priorities makes wholesale distributors more agile and able to balance operational realities with insights to drive growth.

Key #2: Fostering Innovation

Innovation has not traditionally been an emphasis for wholesale distributors, which focus primarily on logistics within their ecosystem. As the industry looks for new sources of growth, however, top wholesale distributors are using management innovation for additional revenue streams and novel business models.

This is a key difference between wholesale distributors that are modernizing and those that are falling behind. While nearly all of the best-run wholesale distributors say they use innovation well or very well, according to IDC research, only 8 percent of distributors that are struggling say the same thing.

Wholesale distributors are using a range of new technologies to foster this innovation, including:

• Mobile devices that can execute all core business functions
• Advanced data analytics and management dashboards for easy access
• Enterprise collaboration tools
• Cloud computing
• Internet-connected devices (Internet of Things)
• Cognitive computing
• Machine learning
• Blockchain

They also are encouraging innovation in a variety of ways, including actively looking outside their company and industry, having programs that reward innovation, launching internal innovation teams, and designating time during the workweek for employees to explore and play around with innovative ideas.

Key #3: Exceeding Customer Expectations

With heightened competition, wholesale distributors are under significant pressure to differentiate their businesses and cultivate loyal customers. This is leading the top distributors to double down on customer service and focus on exceeding buyer expectations.

Wholesale distributors are doing this in two primary ways.

First, they are supporting a wider range of customer channels such as chat and text messaging, and unifying these channels on the backend so all customer interactions are centrally stored and accessible. This creates a more unified customer experience and more continuity between interactions.

Second, wholesale distributors are breaking down operational silos and using enterprise resource planning software that serves as a single source of truth instead of data being spread across multiple databases with no overarching management. This enables analytics and a much clearer picture of the customer, which in turn is being used for an improved customer experience.

Key #4: Cultivating Talented Employees

Meeting the challenges that wholesale distributors face today requires employees that can develop innovation, think creatively, and better support customers. This requires that wholesale distributors attract and retain top
talent, a struggle for many firms.

Wholesale distributors that are modernizing and meeting the challenges of the industry are therefore stressing an improved employee experience. Some of the methods that top wholesale distributors are using:

• Process automation
• Talent management software
• User-friendly computer systems
• Enhanced employee needs awareness
• Programs for employee development
• Increased collaboration
• Mobile-enabled operations

Roughly 73 percent of the best-run wholesale distributors are currently using talent management software, according to IDC research, and 82 percent of wholesale distributors strive to empower employees with process automation.

Key #5: Centralizing IT Systems

A central component of modernizing wholesale distribution among top distributors is breaking down operational silos and improving automation through the use of a centralized enterprise resource planning system (ERP) that serves as a single source of truth.

IDC research has shown that there is a large discrepancy between the IT capabilities of the best-run wholesale distributors and those that are struggling today.

The use of a centralized, cloud-based ERP system is a key component of the strategy for meeting the challenges of the wholesale distribution industry because it helps with the collection and analysis of operational data, drives automation enables innovative business models, and generally serves as the foundation for digital transformation.

Are you. . .

Business to Business (B2B)

Looking for an ERP Solution as a B2B Distribution Company?

Business to Consumer (B2C)

Looking for an ERP Solution as a B2C Distribution Company? 

Direct to Consumer (DTC)

Looking for an ERP as a DTC Distribution Company? 

The Need for Digital Transformation

At the center of all five of these strategic priorities is digital transformation, the process of modernizing a business by reconfiguring the operations and management strategy of the organization around the latest digital technologies.

Almost all—99 percent—of best-run wholesale distributors surveyed by IDC said that the adoption of new, disruptive technologies would provide their business with a competitive advantage, compared with only 69 percent of wholesale distributors overall and 34 percent of lagging wholesale distributors.

The best-run wholesale distributors are focusing on digital management transformation because the latest digital systems streamline operations through visibility, analytics, automation, and areas such as process standardization, all of which improve productivity. Most of the new opportunities in the market revolve around advancements in technology such as artificial intelligence and the blockchain, too.

Digital transformation also is at the center of overall business transformation because technology is the key driver behind most of the changes and innovations in business today. Businesses that are modernizing are doing it through digital transformation.

For wholesale distributors, digital transformation encompasses five key dimensions.

Customer Centricity

Using digital technology to move the customer closer to the center of every business decision through more complete, holistic feedback and real-time analytics.

Roughly 70 percent of business leaders surveyed by the SAP Center for Business Excellence and Oxford Economics said that they have seen significant or transformational value in customer satisfaction and engagement from digital transformation, compared with only 22 percent of businesses that had not undergone digital transformation to their management and operations.

Employee Empowerment

Improving productivity, teamwork, and overall job satisfaction through a digital work environment that is tightly connected, enables mobility and collaboration and provides real-time information
for a culture of management through data-driven insight.

SAP and Oxford Economics have found that 64 percent of business leaders say that their employees are more engaged thanks to digital transformation, and 94 percent of best-run wholesale distributors are striving to improve connectivity and engagement across their workforce, according to IDC.

Digital Supply Chain

Connecting systems at every link in the supply chain for better management efficiency and real-time responsiveness.

The heart of a wholesale distribution business is its network of supplier and customer relationships, and digital transformation helps connect this network more completely and efficiently.

Smart Technology

Innovating through the use of new technologies such as machine learning, internet-connected devices and blockchain distributed ledger technology.

Half of the digital business leaders are investing in machine learning right now, according to SAP and Oxford Economics, compared with just 7 percent of leaders less focused on digital transformation.

New Monetization Models

Taking advantage of analytics and cloud technologies for developing product packages and subscription opportunities.

Roughly 98 percent of best-run wholesale distributors are looking to create new business models and revenue streams, according to IDC, compared with only 78 percent of wholesale distributors overall and a little more than half of the distributors that are falling behind.

Alleviate your current pain points with our industry-specific ERP solutions for Distribution companies