Business Software: meeting the needs of the ‘need it now’ customer

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can streamline business operations, improve customer relations and boost company growth, explains Stuart Hall, pictured, Sales Director, Epicor Software UK and Ireland.

It’s no secret – ecommerce is altering the way we do business and wholesalers are no exception. Buyers’ behaviours are changing and all too often today’s customers want their goods immediately. This major shift is partly due to the popularity of large ecommerce sites, particularly the likes of Amazon, where same-day and next day services are becoming the norm.

Electrical wholesalers need to be tuned to the changing expectations of their customers, but the move to satisfy the ‘need it now’ appetites of customers can be an expensive change.

Unit shipments rather than the traditional bulk shipments drive up cost, resulting in lower profits for the business. The situation is exacerbated by the industry giants who can consistently squeeze the smaller wholesalers as they can afford to take in business at even lower margins, or even at a loss.

Managing these new requirements can seem daunting. But investing in new technologies can help wholesalers better understand the needs of their customers, manufacturers and suppliers and enable them to deliver the fast, efficient and responsive customer solutions that are key to surviving in these changing times.

Modern technologies such as integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and warehouse management solutions (WMS) can help wholesalers to get ahead. These systems automate tasks and allow wholesalers to manage their resources more efficiently while reducing uncertainty from known variables.

By becoming more automated and integrated with the help of capability and analytical tools, wholesalers become more customer-focused and operationally ready to provide a seamless, connected and unified customer experience. Improving automation and efficiency can also offset the increasing costs of unit shipments.

Some businesses will choose not to implement an ERP system because they consider themselves to be “too small” and have had success operating without this technology to date. But without investing in modern technology, their company will be held back from its full potential and risk not growing in the future. Doing nothing avoids costs in the short term, but it is not worth it in the long run. Continuing to operate with a “business as usual” approach is a mistake wholesalers cannot afford to make.

ERP systems, such as the Epicor BisTrack solution, bring together the whole business operation of a wholesaler – from sales, purchasing and marketing to quality control and warehouse operations – enabling them to work together rather than separately. This leads to integration across the company and eliminates costly errors and repetitive processes.

Appropriate functions can be automated and additional third party applications and spreadsheets can be removed. This provides a total view of the business as a whole, a customer or a product depending on your business function and leads to improved consistency and accuracy throughout the business.

Our users tell us that one of the best results of implementing a solution such as Epicor BisTrack is the improvements to customer service – that questions or queries can be dealt with quickly and effectively leading to improved customer loyalty, and spend.

In an ever-changing business landscape, wholesalers must adapt or risk getting left behind. Integrated ERP, CRM and WMS can help identify new opportunities, improve customer relations, and boost business growth. Industry-leading wholesalers will be those that take advantage of these modern and innovative tools to streamline their business operations and so meet the needs of today’s demanding ‘need it now’ customer.