Are you thinking about starting a wholesale distribution business? Or perhaps you already have and you’re outgrowing the Excel spreadsheets you’re using to track inventory. Either way, the number of choices you have in software can be overwhelming.
Pick the wrong solution and you’re stuck with something you don’t use or maybe you’re afraid to transition to a new one. If you’re using a solution that doesn’t serve you well, that could cost you massive amounts of money through a poor customer experience.
The good news is that it’s never too late to make a change. In this post, we’ll outline the most important questions to ask when selecting inventory management software for your wholesale distribution business.
1. Does your inventory management software provide you with real-time inventory levels?
The most important thing that your inventory management software should do is track your inventory in real time. Every time an item is sold, shipped or returned, your stock levels should automatically update. Without this, many companies resort to using an Excel spreadsheet, which can be cumbersome, slow and lacking those ever important real-time inventory updates you need as a wholesale distributor.
2. Does your inventory management software help you manage multiple warehouses?
Your inventory management software should make it easy for you to manage multiple warehouses. It should be simple for warehouse managers to transfer stock from one warehouse to another, including virtual warehouses that you have set up. You should be able to view inventory levels by warehouse or in total. If you have warehouse silos, this can slow down the transfer and maintenance of stock and sales.
3. Does your inventory management software help you utilize tight inventory controls?
Inventory management software should help you do much more than track your inventory in real time. It should enable you to digitize all elements of inventory management, such as the issuance of purchase orders, and enable you to use tools like EDI. In addition, alerts and workflows can help you better manage your inventory as needed for your business model, so look for this as a capability as well.
4. Does your inventory management software help you track and forecast sales?
If you have field sales representatives, you’ll need to track the demand forecasts by those reps, otherwise you run the risk of not maintaining enough stock. Managing to your demand forecasts helps ensure that you can meet the needs of some of your most important customers, so it’s important you allow your reps to forecast forthcoming sales within your software solution. This option also provides sales managers with the tools needed to communicate coming demand or lack thereof.
5. Does your inventory management software integrate with other solutions?
Look for inventory management software that integrates with best-in-class solutions. Why? This enables you to choose the best accounting, payment processing or shipping integrations that can help you provide the best customer experience. With the right set of integrations, your employees will need to log into fewer cloud-based applications daily. Integrations also help reduce human error since employees are not entering data into multiple applications. Ideally, your integrations are seamless and you can view related application activity within your inventory management software.
6. Does your inventory management software centralize data?
With the right integrations, your inventory management software should help you gather and centralize data for customer-facing teams. Without this, employees may need to log into multiple systems to get the data needed to service and support your customers. The fewer systems that you employees need to log into, the faster they’ll be able to resolve customer support questions or issues.
7. Does your inventory management software help to improve the customer experience?
Ideally, the most important thing that your inventory management software should do is help you put the customer first. By displaying real-time inventory levels on your website or in your B2B portal, for example, you enable your customers to self serve their needs, which is proven to increase customer satisfaction and reduce calls into your customer service team. With the right technology, you enable customers to serve their own needs, from placing large, grid orders to paying invoices, all within your B2B portal.