Cloud ERP system | Saas ERP for order and inventory management: a buyer's guide

Cloud ERP system and Saas ERP are both hosted in the cloud. A Cloud ERP system has two options, self or vendor-hosted. Saas ERP means a cloud ERP system offered as a subscription service.

How to efficiently evaluate, buy and implement a Saas ERP for order and inventory management. 

chapter one

Cloud ERP system | Saas ERP guide: Who's it for, whats it for, and what's in it for you?

Hello!

Choosing a Cloud ERP system | Saas ERP specifically for order and inventory management is time consuming and difficult.

You want to make the right choice, get your Cloud ERP solution implemented, and move forward with a better way of working.

If you’re looking for:

  • A stress-free, painless, and short implementation.
  • Immediate benefits in ALL of your key business functions.
  • Worry-free ongoing operation.
  • A system that adapts quickly and easily to allow you to make adjustments large and small which continually improve and fine-tune your operations.

This guide is for you.

It’s a necessity, and honestly should be not too much to ask of ERP software for wholesalers | distributors in the 21st century.

I’ve time and time again seen the pain of choosing, implementing, and operating a traditional or cloud ERP system for order and inventory management.

I came to the realization of the need for an easy to read, overarching, and comprehensive guide which could be used by folks who own or work in wholesaler or distributor to achieve the above outcome.

The goal of this guide is to help you time efficiently:

  1. Get an overall view of a Saas ERP, and review all of its core parts/functions.
  2. Drill down to details and check the features of each function.
  3. Watch a short video of how each function, feature works in concert in your workflows.
  4. Learn enough to use the cloud ERP system to try out any feature or task.
  5. Set up the application to match and model your key workflows.
  6. Create a vision for your cloud ERP solution.
  7. Craft a ‘blueprint’ for implementation/data migration.
  8. Set up your cloud ERP software for live operation.
  9. Engage and get your users comfortable with the new system.
  10. Develop a better culture for using information.
  11. Go live.
  12. Adapt and fine-tune your cloud ERP to support continuous improvement.

I offer no apologies for this being a BIG document. You’re making a BIG decision which I know will result in a better way of working.  

What’s in here is my presentation of the knowledge and answers I’ve curated from years of experience of working with folks like you. 

The lessons of failure and success are all here to help you. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with support@salesorder.com or use the Contact us page to get a personal appointment. We want to help, whatever the question.

If you feel something has not been included, or should be excluded, then please please let me know. I promise you I’m genuinely interested.

The overarching purpose of our cloud ERP | Saas ERP guide is bring together in one place a summary of everything you need to know, in an easy to digest format.

If you are just starting out, my purpose is to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible to get the knowledge you need to make an important decision which will transform the way in which you record and use the information to run your business.

If you are at any point in the journey, you can quickly dive into this document to get your bearings or the knowledge or advice you need to solve problems or move you forward on the right course.

One more thing, continuous improvement is a necessity of life. This guide will continually change. We can only make it better for you with your input.

Everything matters, from typos and grammar to difficult to understand or perform stuff. I honestly do care about making things better.

So please don’t hold back or spare my feelings. Give me your feedback and questions. My team and I will make every effort to respond and adapt.

Thank you for coming here, reading my stuff and I wish you well.

Let’s do it!

Nick

Founder and CEO

chapter two

Cloud ERP | Saas ERP for order and inventory management


Part 1 - Overview

It's all about SKU tracking and management

The key purpose of cloud based ERP software for order and inventory management is to join up, manage and track the lifecycle or journey of a SKU and its financial outcomes. 

Sales, Purchasing, Warehouse and Accounting transactions are the vehicles that progress the SKU from source to its final destination and conversions from and to cash. e.g. Purchase Order to Purchase Invoice, Sales Order to Shipment, Sales Order to sales Invoice, etc.

The order to cash journey for a SKU can be logically divided into three joined up stages:

cloud-ERP-system-sales-fulfillment-accounting

A cloud ERP system is a transaction processing system. It allows users to create, store, and manipulate transactions.

A cloud ERP system sits on top of one database from which users can pull reports.

For this genre of cloud ERP software for distributors | wholesalers, competent native or practical integration with Ecommerce is mandatory.

Similarly, real time access for buyers to product (SKU) information, especially product availability should be a given.

what is cloud ERP software with inventory-order management-b2b ecommerce

The key features a Saas ERP for order and inventory management should have

Shameless plug, I’m going to use the Salesorder.com Saas ERP, order and inventory management platform as the example. Right here, right now, I’m just providing a check list of features. 

Once you have an overall and top level view, in Chapter 3 I’ll drill down through detail of each function. In Chapter 4 I’ll show you how functions work in concert as the foundations of your workflows. 

software for distributors wholesalers the guide

10 things you must check before you go to far

I hope you’ve now got a ‘big picture’ understanding, together with a list of features and functions. As I said we’ll get into more detail on each function in Chapter 4, and how they work together in Chapter 5.

But before I go any further, I want to share with you some more things I think should definitely be in your choice of Saas ERP to streamline wholesaler or distributor operations.

If you overlook ANY of these, there is a very high probability they will eventually turn into showstopping and probably quite costly gotchas.

It's one system right?

It’s such an obvious question, I nearly didn’t include this one. Consider the entire journey of a SKU you keep in stock from say quote to cash (sales, fulfillment, accounting;-).

  1. The SKU is purchased using a Purchase Order.
  2. The Purchase Order containing the SKU is received and put away in the Warehouse.
  3. The Accounting (general ledger) is updated by the Item Receipt.
  4. The SKU is inherited from the Sales Quote by the Sales Order.
  5. Stock of the SKU is allocated to the Shipment.
  6. The Shipment is picked, packed, and shipped to the Customer.
  7. A Sales Invoice is sent to the Customer.
  8. The Supplier sends the Purchase Invoice.
  9. The Customer pays the Sales Invoice.
  10. The Supplier Invoice is paid.
Cloud ERP system SKU Journey 1512x819 1
Cloud ERP system SKU Journey 3 1512x850 1

Ten steps, approximately thirteen transactions all of which are related. In the above diagrams, the colors:

  • Red = Sales transactions.
  • Orange = Fulfillment transactions.
  • Green = Accounting transactions.

If you want to streamline and accelerate this workflow and reliably track every stage, one system that joins up sales, fulfillment, and accounting makes it easier than doing it in a software Frankenstein from multiple vendors.

If you want one reliable truth (in one database) about the SKU journey, so as everyone in sales, order management, the warehouse, purchasing, and accounting has accurate and real-time visibility, you need one system right?

A cloud-based ERP for order and inventory management must have all of the parts, and they must be joined up and perform in concert. And they ALL must be working on the same database.You simply cannot reliably scale or adapt without this.

!!!Buyers beware!!!

Make sure you check the entire feature list of any cloud ERP solution or Saas ERP you evaluate.

Cloud ERP vendors have a sneaky habit of relying upon third party software vendors for vital components of an order and inventory management system. This is a ticking time bomb for data integrity.

The best example is the most obvious component, is Accounting. The most common problem prospects approach us with is “Quickbooks has become unsafe, we have database capacity and integrity issues”. 

The cause is the sheer size of the ‘Company file’. How big is your’s? If it’s over 1 Gb, then you should consider an exit plan.

Saas ERP vendors have a sneaky habit of relying upon third party software vendors for vital components of their order and inventory management 'solution'. A multi-vendor software Frankenstein is a ticking time bomb.

Avoid integration with accounting software

If the cloud ‘ERP’ vendor’s solution does not include accounting, in other words they’re recommending you stay with or purchase QuickBooks then steer well clear, regardless of how seductive the demo or price tag.

An order and inventory management system ‘integrated’ with Quickbooks or any other accounting software e.g. Xero, Intacct means you will inevitably suffer from issues caused by data duplication.

Avoid ‘add on’ third party warehouse management software

If the warehouse is not included, then tread extra carefully and exercise extreme due diligence. The add on warehouse management system will have its own database. 

Stock is money, errors caused by data duplication or synchronization will lose you time and cash.

…one more thing related to accounting (data migration)

Don’t let the prospect of moving your data from one accounting platform to another hold you back, it’s actually very straightforward. I’ll cover this in Chapter 5.

Connectivity to customers and suppliers?

All software, especially ERP is connected (eventually). Network connectivity collapses time, it makes things happen faster and more efficiently 24/7 365 days a year. 

For this reason, your Customers expect to be able to connect with you online, and you expect to connect to your suppliers.

Connectivity comes in many formats, the key ones you need now (or will do if you grow) are:

  • B2B ecommerce
  • EDI
  • API
  • Shipping vendor ‘proxies’
  • B2C ecommerce marketplaces i.e.Amazon Fulfillment,
  • B2C Shopping carts i.e. Shopify

B2B ecommerce?

Customers prefer online, they just do (note 1). It’s ingrained in our culture. Customers want the quickest and easiest route to finding information or making a purchase.

However, the majority of customers won’t ask you if they can buy from you online. They’ll just silently go elsewhere. This is a hard fact, we all do it eventually. The Internet is an ocean of choices.

You need a cloud ERP system with out of the box B2B ecommerce ‘connectivity’.

Note 1: OK there are a few that don’t. But they are a diminishing minority. What are they worth to you? How much does it actually cost to stick with them? How much would you lose or gain if they went away?

B2B ecommerce is being rapidly adopted by wholesalers. So it follows that ERP software which is the ‘back end’ transaction processor must have B2B ecommerce capabilities.

B2B ecommerce is in a phase of rapid adoption. Now vendors like Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento who historically focused on B2C ecommerce shopping carts have B2B ecommerce solutions. 

These  follow in the footprints of SAP Hybris and Salesforce ‘Commerce Cloud’ (formerly Demandware).

So it follows that ERP software which is the ‘back end’ transaction processor must have B2B ecommerce capabilities.

But wait, again there are perils here. Integrating your cloud based, or on-premise ERP with third party B2B ecommerce software will mean two databases.

There is no way around this. If you choose this route, you are inviting Frankenstein software back into your business. It will not scale, it might do for a while but eventually, it will become a show-stopping, costly impediment.

Two databases mean data duplication, enough said.

You absolutely must choose a cloud ERP system | Saas ERP with native B2B ecommerce. ‘Native’ means it’s built into the software.

This is a CRITICAL point. You are buying a cloud based ERP to futureproof your business. There’s a high probability you’ll not change your cloud ERP solution for at minimum five years.

Online shopping B2C or B2B is de facto, it’s not going away. Even if you are resisting it now, or you cannot imagine it will ever fit into your business model, if you are in wholesale or distribution you will eventually need B2B ecommerce capabilities.

Check the Saas ERP | Cloud ERP system you’re evaluating has built-in B2B ecommerce capabilities. And check it can be easily customized, not just at the front (web page) end, but at the back end as well.

EDI?

EDI is mandatory if you serve customers who are large retailers or in some cases marketplaces. Also if you intend to scale your fulfillment operations by partnering with 3PLs – third party logistics providers, the chances are for efficient service they’ll ask you to connect to them using EDI.

Electronic Data Interchange. Enables software applications typically ERPs to exchange standard business documents such as purchase orders, invoices, inventory levels, and shipping notices.

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) connectivity is mandatory for large retailers, some marketplaces, and is often required by 3rd party logistics partners.

EDI endpoints, specifically customer or supplier ERP systems are referred to as ‘trading partners’

EDI documents are identified by three digits. The most common EDI documents are:

  • 850: Purchase Order – sent by a customer, to auto-create a Sales Order in your Saas ERP.
  • 855: Purchase Order Acknowledgement – confirmation from your cloud ERP to your customer.
  • 856: Advance Ship Notice – confirmation you have shipped your customer’s purchase order.
  • 810: Sales Invoice – presents your invoice to your customer.
  • 846: Inventory Advice – tells your 3PL about stock levels and changes.
  • 940: Warehouse Shipping Order – tells your 3PL to ship a Sales Order.
  • 945: Warehouse Shipping Advice – your 3PL tells you they have shipped your Sales Order.

There are two types of EDI connections:

  • via an EDI gateway provider i.e. SPS Commerce.
  • via a virtual private network owned by you or your trading partner.

If you intend to or are already scaling you will need ‘out of the box’ EDI functionality in your Saas ERP | cloud ERP system. Go check!

API?

API, an Application Programmers Interface enables software developers to connect one to one, or one to many software applications together to allow them to communicate and exchange data and transactions.

The fastest way to check if the Saas ERP has an API is to search the cloud ERP vendor’s website for a link to ‘API’ or ‘Developer’ documentation.

APIs come in different formats. The most popular and useful is REST. REST is an abbreviation for “Representational State Transfer”. REST harnesses the flexibility of HTTP requests.

REST is a set of rules that developers follow when they create their API. One of these rules states that you should be able to get a piece of data (called a resource) when you link to a specific URL.

Your web browser sends an HTTP request every time you access any web page, hence the syntax http://www.salesorder.com, which you’ll often see in your browser’s address bar, or at the foot of your browser when you hit the Return key after typing in or going to a web page.

An API is mandatory, believe me, it just is. I’m sure whatever cloud ERP system or Saas ERP software you’ve looked at, or are considering has got an API. 

Go check. If it has not, then avoid.

Shipping Carrier Software 'proxies'?

These are a must-have (obviously).

There are a multitude of shipping vendor ‘proxies’. By proxy I mean a software application, cloud based or on-premise which provides one to many connections between your Saas ERP and a crowd of shipping vendors ie. UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.

These shipping integration solutions enable you at a minimum to:

  • send requests for shipping rates based upon weight or cubic volume.
  • order shipping i.e. UPS Ground.
  • receive tracking numbers.
  • print shipping labels.

If you are using your customer’s shipping vendor accounts to charge shipments you need to check the shipping software supports this.

Many customers I’ve worked with have overlooked this. For example, Easypost Shipping API supports this, whereas Shipstation does not.

This one small oversight can cost you time in a busy warehouse.

Shipping is expensive, customers and you don’t like paying for it. In order to save costs, you should look hard at each solution.

For example, does the shipping software support with carriere who provide:

  • Zone skipping?
  • LTL (less than a truckload)?

Zone skipping is a method used by shipping couriers to offer customers lower costs. Shipping carriers consolidate many individual packages or orders into a single shipment to a distribution center.

Shipping carriers assign rates, in part, based on distance and how many “zones” a package travels through.

With zone skipping, packages enter the carrier’s system in the final delivery zone, avoiding the high cost of multi-zone moves.

LTL is often cheaper than ‘big-brand’ shipping carriers however, the number of LTL proxies is much less than those which support the bigger carriers.

For solutions that provide Zone skipping and LTL support, explore shipping software vendors like TechShip from Techdinamics.

You should check the list of carriers supported by the shipping software, as it’s often the case they’ll support many but not all of your preferred carriers.

Check your Saas ERP has connectivity to shipping software.

SKU tracking? Lots, Batches, Serial numbers

Depending upon your business model and what you sell, your choice of a cloud ERP system must be able to provide stakeholders with the appropriate level of visibility of aspects of a SKU profile and status. For example, if you track Lots, Batches, or SKUs with serial numbers.

If you need to track any aspect of a SKU beyond quantitative values, such as Free, On Hand, Back Order stock movements, or sales and costs performance indicators, you’ll need SKU instance tracking.

SKU instance tracking means having the ability to track each stock item at an individual level. 

For example, a forklift truck might have a model / SKU code, but will probably have aspects you need to track like warranty, service record, when it was purchased, or who it was sold to.

If you require this type of SKU tracking method then the minimum functionality (data model) you should seek out in your choices of cloud based ERP is the system should give you visibility of the transactions relating to an individual SKU, specifically the directly related Purchase and Sales Orders.

Ideally, the data model of an instance should be extensible, so as you can add custom values (fields) for specific SKU tracking.

Check how the Cloud ERP system tracks SKUs i.e. Lots

Customization?

If you use any type of computing, you’ll be aware of relentless updates and new versions of the software or hardware. I believe business is no different, you need a steady stream of ‘revisions’ to improve and grow your business.

A cloud ERP system by its very nature is the business core information ecosystem. More information leads to more knowledge. 

More knowledge leads to more actionable insights. Actionable insights mean changes to processes, which in turn mean changes to your cloud ERP software.

This Kaizen or continuous improvement is essential to a healthy and growing business. 

Implementing a core information system that constrains you from adapting your business because it’s too expensive or simply cannot be done is like going to a gunfight armed with a stick.

Choose a Cloud ERP system that is both customizable and can be done quickly and at a low cost. 

Ask the vendor to show you examples of customization, including costs and timescales.

As a minimum you should see: 

  • DIY customization: Users with the right permissions can add fields to to the system. These fields should be immediately visible in the Lists and Reports. Fields can be connected. See the video below for a better understanding.
  • Scripting and Plugin scripts: The vendor or their partners have access to a scripting programming language. This development environment can be used to develop add on functionality e.g. automatons.
 

DIY customization demo

Ease of use, low learning curve?

If you’ve seen or explored first hand the user interface or documentation for ERP software of any type, you’ll confirm they are intimidating.

It’s critical you focus on the user experience. It’s a high probability you’re intent on buying a cloud based ERP because you realize you need one system to scale and manage growth. As you grow you’ll add more human resources.

To contribute and be effective, your new team members will need to learn and use your core system. The faster they can do this the better. 

An easy to use cloud ERP system gives you a strategic advantage in as much as you can hire talent with no prior experience of a specific technology.

This flexibility is really advantageous in situations where your business goes through peaks and troughs where you need an interim headcount.

There are multiple, and arguably critical advantages of selecting an easy to use cloud based ERP software. Tread very carefully here.

Spend 15 minutes maximum getting familiar. If it feels hard, then it is hard and is going to be a hard journey for your team.

Mission critical support?

Your cloud ERP system is mission critical right? Your entire source of business information and your ability to transact is on your ERP.

It goes without saying it has to be reliable and secure. But what about the values and behavior of the solution vendor’s people?

Does your cloud ERP vendor have the words ‘mission critical’ in its content or vocabulary?

Don’t be wrong-footed here, this doesn’t just mean the response from the cloud ERP vendor’s support team is rapid and always on. It means much, much more than this.

You’re choosing a cloud ERP system and going on possibly a five to ten-year journey with the vendor.

From 15 years of experience, I know a cultural fit and mutual understanding are paramount. You need each other, and therefore have to really get to know one another. After all the technology is connecting the two organizations.

Mission critical support to me means, the cloud ERP vendor really understands your business, what it does, how it works, and who does what.

This can only translate into a different type of support to what you might have experienced with other software.

When you have an issue or a question, you need to be able to connect with someone you know, and who has a good working knowledge of how you work.

When you’re in a crisis, you don’t need delays or misunderstandings due to the support team not being educated, or in possession of the right context.

The bottom line here, ask the vendor about how they retain an understanding of your business, and obviously, look for the words ‘mission critical’ or a semantic thereof in the cloud ERP vendor’s vocabulary.

Get to know your cloud ERP system | Saas ERP vendor’s support team.

Elasticity?

Elasticity means the vendor can deliver sufficient computing power and storage beyond your current and normal day to day requirements. Your cloud ERP system runs on one database. Over time this database will gradually fill with stored transactions.

The bigger the store, the longer it’s going to take to run reports. Equally, if you’re in the ecommerce business and you run remarkable promotions, then your ecommerce channels ingesting volume spikes of orders into your fulfillment process can place significant demands on the hosting infrastructure.

If the hosting infrastructure is not elastic, response times will rapidly decrease and every one of your users will be affected. Not the sort of situation you want to find yourself in when a great opportunity to make money is in play.

Ask your cloud ERP system | Saas ERP vendor about elasticity.

chapter three

Cloud ERP system | Saas ERP for order and inventory management


Part 2 - Functions

Fulfillment

Inventory

Track any SKU type and Instance.
1

Multi-warehouse

Model, track every physical aspect.
1

Supply Chain

Manage Suppliers and transactions.
1

Shipping

Multi-carrier integration
1

Accounting

General Ledger

Multicurrency, AP & AR automation.
1

Tax Automation

Sales Tax, GST, VAT.
1

Digital Payments

ACH, Cards, Cybersource, ADN
1

Tools

Analytics

Business Intelligence
1

Customization

Adapt and Automate.
1

API

Connect and integrate.
1

b2b ecommerce

Customizable Trade Acceleration Portals for wholesalers eliminate friction in the b2b customer experience.

The Salesorder.com cloud ERP system has a native b2b self-service portal. This Trade Acceleration Portal or TAP is fully customizable.

Native means part of the architecture and therefore needs no integration.

The objective of the TAP is to enable wholesalers | distributors to deliver a frictionless and remarkable customer experience.

Wholesalers | distributors can deploy multiple TAPs to:

  • serve the needs of individual or groups of customers.
  • serve the needs of Sales agents (commission-only salespeople not directly employed).

There is no restriction on the number of TAPs that can be deployed.

The TAP:

  • Can be adapted to manage Suppliers.
  • Web pages can be incorporated into existing websites.
  • Is responsive, it will work on Tablets and Smartphones.
  • Is secure and provides 24/7 access.

TAP customer features:

  • Role management: TAP ‘administrators’ can configure TAP roles to enable users to set up permissions e.g. Approve a Purchase Order.
  • Real-time product catalog: Media rich product information eg images, datasheets, video presentations.
  • Real-time SKU status and availability: Stock levels by location, backorder, and replenishment purchase order status & ETAs.
  • Customer-specific pricing: the customer only SKU pricing and products specific to them.
  • Order capture: Customers can create and submit Sales Orders and include Purchase Order references and attach PDF copies.
  • Order status: Customers can track the entire order lifecycle e.g. approval, allocation, pick, pack, ship, including tracking information.
  • Review Sales Invoices: Present Sales Invoices for review and payment.
  • Customer statements: See Accounts Receivable transaction history.
  • Make payments: Customers can pay by card or ACH.

TAP Sales Agent features: The TAP can be configured to enable Sales Agents/Dealers to log in, list their assigned customers. This gives Sales Agents/Dealers:

  • Real-time product catalog: Media-rich product information eg images, datasheets, video presentations.
  • Real-time SKU status and availability: Stock levels by location, back order, and replenishment purchase order status & ETAs.
  • Customer-specific pricing: the customer only SKU pricing and products specific to them.
  • Order capture: Sales Agents can create and submit Sales Orders and include Purchase Order references and attach PDF copies.
  • Order status: Sales Agents can track the entire order lifecycle e.g. approval, allocation, pick, pack, ship, including tracking information.
  • Track Commissions: the TAP can be adapted to calculate and display commission value on Sales Order entry.

b2c ecommerce

Salesorder.com ecommerce order management system connects to Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, Woocommerce and Amazon stores.

The Salesorder.com cloud-based ERP contains a comprehensive ecommerce order management solution.

These shopping carts (ecommerce endpoints) can be connected:

  • Shopify
  • Magento 2.0
  • BigCommerce
  • Amazon Seller
  • Amazon FBA
  • Woocommerce

The purpose of the solution is to enable third-party shopping carts to transmit their incoming customer orders into the order management solution (OMS) within Salesorder. Orders arrive in the OMS with a status of ‘Pending’.

Where appropriate the OMS can send a signal back to the shopping cart to change the status of the cart order e.g. ‘processing’ to ‘completed’.

Where required Stock levels can be sent from Salesorder to the shopping cart.

If the shopping cart is connected to a payment gateway or processor, specifically Authorize.net, Paypal, or Cybersource, and uses a two-stage payment process e.g. ‘authorize’, ‘capture’ payments, Salesorder can signal the card processor to capture payment.

Sales tax can be imported on Sales Orders, and recorded in Salesorder.com’s General Ledger.

CRM

Because the Salesorder.com cloud ERP system has joined up sales, fulfillment and accounting tools, the built in CRM for wholesale distributors enables users to track and record ALL transactions and interactions including Email on the Customer master.

Whatever online and offline Sales Channels you adopt, at the heart of your sales operations you need comprehensive customer relationship management to allow you to track and manage your customer’s experience.

A customer experience is a feeling. You customers need to feel confident in your ability to solve their problems and deliver their orders. Rich, real-time information about every interaction and transaction should be at the fingertips of everyone involved in the sales to cash process.

The Salesorder.com CRM for wholesale distributors has a comprehensive box of tools to enable you to deliver and improve your customer’s experience.

All of the functions below are built into the cloud ERP system’s CRM:

Cloud ERP software CRM for wholesale distributors

CRM overview

 

A walkthrough of the salesorder.com Saas ERP CRM for wholesale distributors. You can track every interaction and transaction.

Integrated Email

 

Connect and use your Gmail, Outlook, etc. Send and review email from the Customer master. View and send email by Contact.

Customizable CRM

 
You can customize the Customer master and All of the Sales Documents i.e. Sales Quotes, Sales Orders etc.

EDI

The Salesorder.com Saas ERP has built-in EDI connectivity to the SPS Commerce and EDI2XML platforms.

EDI is mandatory if you serve customers who are large retailers or in some cases marketplaces.

Also if you intend to scale your fulfillment operations by partnering with 3PLs – third-party logistics providers, the chances are for efficient service they’ll ask you to connect to them using EDI.

Electronic Data Interchange. Enables software applications typically ERPs to exchange standard business documents such as purchase orders, invoices, inventory levels, and shipping notices.

This automation removes the need for manual order entry.

Consider this example:

In a customer-supplier relationship, the customer ERP mimics the real-world dialogue and sends the purchase order to the supplier ERP.

The supplier ERP receives and transforms the Purchase Order to a Sales Order. When this is complete, and the customer’s order has been shipped, the supplier system sends back a notification to the customer.

The supplier ERP sends their Sales Invoice to the customer, this is transformed into a Purchase Invoice in the customer ERP.

The transmission of these EDI documents between trading partners (EDI endpoints) is carried over a private network. 

These networks are either operated by EDI gateway providers i.e. SPS Commerce, TrueCommerce, B2b Gateway, etc. or by large logistics operators i.e. DSV.

EDI gateway providers transform the Documents in the exchange to a ‘standardized format’ per endpoint.

The advantage of this to users is once this ‘trading partner specific’ and the standard document is produced, it takes very little time to connect to another trading partner already in the same network.

EDI documents are identified by three digits. The most common EDI documents are:

  • 850 Purchase Order: sent by a customer, to auto-create a Sales Order in your ERP
  • 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgement: confirmation from your ERP to your customer you
  • 856 Advance Ship Notice: confirmation you have shipped your customer’s purchase order.
  • 810 Sales Invoice: presents your invoice to your customer
  • 846 Inventory Advice: tells your 3PL about stock levels and changes
  • 940 Warehouse Shipping Order: tells your 3PL to ship a Sales Order
  • 945 Warehouse Shipping Advice: your 3PL tells you they have shipped your Sales Order.

For users wishing to sidestep the big name EDI gateways, the Salesorder.com cloud ERP system has integration with EDI2XML.

Adaptable Price Lists

The Salesorder.com cloud ERP system has adaptable price lists enabling wholesalers to easily configure, apply and present custom pricing to multichannel B2b customers.

Wholesalers, Distributors, and anyone trading B2b need to be able to adapt their pricing.

The Salesorder.com Saas ERP enables wholesalers to preset custom pricing on the customer master. This pricing is automatically inherited on Sales Documents.

Similarly, Salesorder users can preset custom input costs, for example on a supplier catalog., on the respective Supplier master.

Salesorder’s adaptable Price Lists enable you to specify:

  • Price Lists for ‘trading partners’ i.e. Customers, Suppliers, or both.
  • Price Lists for any given Currency.
  • ‘Global’ price discounts i.e. 10% off every Item.
  • Global and Item specific quantity discounts.
  • Pricing formulas based upon Item, Classification, Customer, etc.

There are multiple considerations when you specify a Price List:

Which Currency are the Prices?

Where will it be applied? 

On Sales or Purchasing Documents, or both?

How will it be presented on Documents?

Is the normal unit price is displayed as a reduced figure?

OR

Is the discount value i.e. -10% is displayed in a column on the same row as the discounted Item?

Which parameters(s) trigger its application?

  • Specific Item
  • Specific Item Category
  • Specific Item Class
  • Specific Customer or Supplier
  • Specific Customer or Supplier Class
  • Qty of Items quoted or Ordered

What calculation is applied?

For example 10% off all Items for this Customer, 30% off if the quantity of this Item exceeds 1000.

 

The Salesorder.com CRM for wholesale distributors enables sales teams to track leads, prospects, and forecast and report sales opportunities.

Leads turn into Prospects. Prospects convert to Customers. Prospects mean Sales Opportunities. Sales Opportunities convert to Sales Orders.

To make sure Sales Opportunities are prioritized so they get the right focus, and if they result in Sales there is sufficient inventory, it’s essential a cloud ERP system has Sales Forecasting, as well as Lead and Prospect management tools.

The Salesorder.com Saas ERP has a comprehensive set of functions that enable Sales teams to manage and track Sales Funnel activities. These are:

  • Lead capture
  • Prospect Capture
  • Sales Opportunities
  • Sale Forecasts

Lead capture: Leads can be captured by users, from a web page or imported via an upload template. The Lead list enables users to sort and prioritize Leads by properties such as ‘Rating or Score’, Source, Campaign, as well as geographical data.

Like all other trading partner and transaction screens in Salesorder, users can add custom fields that can be inherited by Prospect masters when the Lead is converted.

Prospect capture: Leads can be converted into Prospects, or if appropriate Prospect masters can be created. Sales users can create and email Sales Quotes from the Prospect master.

CRM software for wholesale distributors sales funnel management

Sales Opportunities: Sales users can create Sales Opportunities from Prospect masters. Sales Opportunities enable Salespeople to:

  • Record opportunity detail and value at the Line Item
  • (SKU) level.
  • Set the probability and weighting (see below).
  • Submit their forecast ‘up the line’.
  • Track their progress against a period target

Opportunity Stages apply the weighting to the entire Sales Opportunity.

Opportunity stages represent the sales funnel stages and their respective probability. The basic idea is, as an opportunity progresses through a series of stages its probability of converting to a sale increases by a percentage.

For example, a stage describing the prospect as being ‘engaged’, meaning they are actively seeking information and repetitively asking for your attention might indicate a probability of 50%, therefore the deal is weighted at 50%, and the deal value is forecast at 50% of its total value.

Sales Forecasts: Sales opportunities appear in Sales forecasts. Sales forecasts can be constituted at the individual, team, or company level. The Salesorder Saas ERP enables Sales Forecasting users to create, track, and ‘commit’ Sales Forecasts.

Sales Forecasts are linked to the main Cash Flow Forecast tools. The Cash Flow forecasts provide a summary and timing of cash movements in and out of the general ledger. 

Users can drill down on cash flow balances to the transaction level and review contributing documents i.e. Sales Opportunities.

cloud ERP system with Sales forecasting for wholesalers

Order models

Saas ERP for inventory and order management should as a minimum be able to underpin and manage these common order delivery methods:

  • Sell from stock
  • Dropship
  • Just in Time
  • Cross Dock
  • Build to Order

The Salesorder.com cloud ERP system supports and provides levels of automation for all of the above order processing methods. These methods can be used together. 

Sell from stock

Depending upon the number of SKU lines and the volume of stock you keep on hand, Salesorder.com has two options for SKU management:

Without the warehouse management system: This simple option relies on your stockroom being small and your team knowing where stock is kept. This option enables users to pick, pack, and ship SKUs from the main UI of the Salesorder Saas ERP.

 

Pick, pack and ship without a Warehouse management system

With the warehouse management system: This option is for traditional warehouse operations. Salesorder.com has a built in warehouse management system (WMS).

At no extra cost and with no integration you can deploy as many WMS as you need to model your physical or even virtual warehouses. A virtual warehouse might be your Amazon FBA stockroom, or a Container in transit.

When selling from stock the Salesorder.com cloud ERP system enables you to manage and track the entire SKU journey from purchasing to delivery to your end customer.

Dropship

The Salesorder.com Saas ERP can automate the entire Dropship Quote to Cash to Cash workflow.

drop-shipping-automation-software
 

Dropshipping automation demo

Just in Time

JIT or Just in time means purchasing the minimum amount of components or raw materials to meet demand, or for a Sales Order that needs immediate fulfillment.

The Just in Time automation in Salesorder.com is identical to the Dropship automation apart from the Shipping address to the vendor on the Purchase Order reverts to one of your company’s addresses.

Cross Docking

Cross-docking is a Just in Time (JIT) shipping process. Cross-docking minimizes handling and use of storage space. SKUs literally arrive in the Goods In Loading bay and are immediately picked to the Goods Out Loading bay.

With or without the warehouse management system Salesorder.com users can organize and manage cross-docking.

Build to Order

Depending upon what you are going to build and how you are going to build it you’ll probably need a bill of materials (BOM). In most ERP systems you’ll find an Assembly Item.

An Assembly Item is a SKU with BOM. The BOM might be constituted from other BOMs (sub assemblies), quantities of individual SKUs (raw materials?) and costs (overheads, labor etc).

When you build the Assembly you’re doing a stock transformation. In other words a group of SKUs you stock are being used up, and a new SKU Assembly is being created. It’s a Stock adjustment plus the inclusion of some other costs.

If the manufacturing process is a network of interrelated tasks involving different departments and processes, then you’ll most probably need MRP software. MRP software helps streamline the manufacturing process through production planning, scheduling, and inventory control.

If your manufacturing process is simple, then your business model probably falls into the category of ‘light manufacturing’, and there’s a good chance a Saas ERP with of course Assembly Items and inventory management, will be good enough to do the inventory control.

However you’ll need to ask yourself, do you need work orders. Work orders do what they say, just like a Sales Order they track the work. They’re found in MRP and Cloud ERP Production Management Software. You can try using a Sales Order to do most of what a work order can do.

If you’re tracking time for the purpose of labor costs, then you’ll need a Saas ERP with rudimentary timesheets.

Salesorder.com has Assemblies and Timesheets. If you need to track the individual SKU components as instances eg Lot numbers or Serial numbers, this can also be done in Salesorder.

Inventory

Wholesalers need a flexible model to track different types of inventory items (SKUs). Saas ERP for order and inventory management should as a minimum have SKU tracking for these types of Inventory:

  • Stock units of measure
  • Multi-pack
  • Assemblies
  • Kits
  • Non-Stock Items
  • Serialized Items
  • Lots

SKU instance tracking

Stock tracking or instance tracking enables users to track stock at an individual item level. This is specifically useful if you are tracking the origin and final destination of any individual SKU, for example, a SKU that is part of a Lot, or has a unique serial number.

 

SKU instance tracking

Stock units of measure

A SKU can have different units of measure. For example, you might purchase in cases of 12 units, stock the same SKU in single units, and sell the units in packs of six.

Multipacks

You might purchase, stock, and sell SKUs as single units, but for the purposes of handling and moving stock efficiently, you might package the single units in packs of 12. When you are receiving the stock, picking or putting away you might assign a SKU code that represents a multipack of 12.

When you handle the stock and use barcode scanners to track movement you would scan the multipack barcode to count 12 units, as opposed to scanning the individual barcode of each unit.

Assemblies

Assemblies are composed of an assembled bill of materials or a BOM. The BOM contains SKUs and non-stock Items (see below). Non-stock items are used to model and track costs such as a predetermined labor cost associated with the assembly of the BOM.

Assemblies are built and sometimes broken. In the former case, the inventory management function would perform a stock adjustment. 

The stock adjustment would decrease the stock levels of the BOM components (raw material). The result would be an increase in the number of assemblies in free stock.

When you break an assembly you would reverse the assembly. The number of assemblies would decrease and the stock of the BOM components would be increased.

Kits

Kits, often referred to as ‘bundles’ are SKUs grouped together and sold with a single Item code. The SKUs in a Kit can be sold separately. 

Kits differ from Assemblies in as much as the SKUs in a Kit are allocated when a Kit is added to a Sales Order. Whereas BOM components are in the Assembly, and the Assembly is allocated as a single SKU to the Sales Order.

Non-stock Items

These can represent different types of Items. They are not SKUs because they are not stocked. You might use Non-stock Items to represent a physical Item you drop ship, or a service you provide, or even a fee you charge.

Serialized Items and Lots

Both of these are similar in as much as you need to track them at the individual item level. To do this effectively your cloud-based ERP needs a function the same as, or similar to Stock Instance tracking (see above).

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