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How to Find a Wine Specific ERP Vendor

Your aim is to build the best wine, spirit and beer distribution business. This means investing in the best available business software. However, it can be very difficult to determine what the best ERP supply chain software is for your specific business because many software companies are a wolf in sheep's clothing. Meaning, they really have a horizontally focused ERP package, but they pitch it as a wine, spirits and beer specific solution. What they try to hide is that it will take many customizations, add-ons and dollars to get you to the point where their ERP software is usable for your business. There are two main areas to look into tell if a vendor is a wolf in sheep's clothing: functionality and implementation.

Functionality

Make sure you find an ERP vendor that has a software product specifically for wine, spirits and beer wholesalers. The more industry specific features and functionality the software has out-of-the-box, the quicker your implementation and the less money out of your pocket. You know what it takes to run your business on a daily basis. Many ERP vendors will dazzle you with functionality that looks great, but you will never use. Focus on the tools that are most important to wine, spirit and beer distributors. Some examples of functionality to look for are:

Comprehensive Reporting

One of the most important areas for wine, spirit and beer distributors to focus on is reporting functionality. Automating your compliance reports can save your company time and resources. For example, many wine, spirit and beer distributors benefit greatly from having a Sales Gallonage Report automatically prepared to make it easier to generate a report of gallons of product sold for tax reporting. Also, an automatically created Supplier Depletion Report can help you quickly view inventory depletion for each of your suppliers. Make sure you create a list of industry specific reports your company needs and compare your list to how many of these needs each ERP software vendor can efficiently meet. The number of already created reports will tell you if they truly concentrate on your industry.

While compliance reporting is important, internal sales reporting is as well. Search for software vendors with an ERP product that is already equipped with comprehensive sales reporting to help you to maximize your profitability. With the right software, you should be able to easily view detailed margin analysis into customer, supplier and brand-level profitability. In addition, ensure you can quickly pull reports to help you understand market penetration as well as possible placements and opportunities. Knowing which retailers haven't been penetrated yet, and which are the most likely to buy from you can help rapidly increase sales. It is also imperative your software enables you to track your entire business performance by categories like territory, sales representative, customer and products.

Bill-backs

Selling products into retailer can get complicated quickly. When dealing with retailers, sometimes sales representatives need to be incentivized, sampling stations must be used, or quantity deals need to be made. All of these things can create hard to manage bill-backs. Look for a vendor that makes it easy to generate and manage bill-backs.

The right ERP vendor will make it simple to generate bill-backs for samples, incentive programs, and depletions. In addition to generating bill-backs, it should also automatically calculate bill-back amounts, but have an option for manual overrides. Other bill-back features that should be standard are the ability to review bill-back history and quickly assign bill-backs to either invoice of AP debit memo, as well as tools to provide suppliers with transaction level bill-back detail.

Inventory Management

Running an efficient warehouse is paramount to being a successful distributor. While many ERP vendors have similar warehouse functionality, there is some specific functionality in which for to look out. Your vendor of choice should offer both paper and wireless options for receiving, putaway and picking. Their software package should also contain functionality to seamlessly handle lot tracking, returns and inter-warehouse transfers. One main area of concern should be finding a vendor that offers flexible warehouse processes that conform to your business, rather than forcing you to alter your business to fit their warehouse module. Many companies will state that their warehouse runs on best-practices. However, if their so-called best practices do not mesh with how you currently run your warehouse, additional time, money and resources will need to be spent to either customize the software or adjust your business processes.

Another key to running a successful wine, spirits and beer supply chain is the ability to optimize allocation of your inventory to customers. Look for ERP software in which you can set up inventory reservations for important customers or set up sales restrictions for customers to which you only want to allocate specific product quantities. You also need to be able to set up pricing as needed for your inventory. Examples would be pricing with up to ten quantity breaks, family pricing, different price books for on or off premise customers or price deals for larger customers.

Third-Party Integration

It is important that the ERP software you choose can integrate successfully with other wine, spirits and beer specific software solutions you currently use. For example, if you do not ship products on your own trucks, you must ensure your software can integrate with third-party routing software, such as Roadnet. Your ERP vendor should also make it easy to export your data to Fintech for accounts receivable collection, and export data to BDN, VIP or Trade Pulse for supplier analysis. If your company uses a third-party application for sales order entry, such as Inventiv's Pocket Advantage or Indigo Olive, you must be able to seamlessly import these orders into your ERP software on a scheduled basis.

Depending on the specifics of your business, there are many other areas you should take a deeper dive into with your ERP vendor options. These include mobile tools available, EDI, import management and more.

Implementation

A quick search on Google will reveal numerous cases of ERP projects that failed at the implementation phase. No matter how perfect the software seems for your business, if the implementation is not handled correctly then the whole project will quickly turn sour. This usually happens when you are assigned a project manager who is not familiar with your business. There are some proactive steps your company can take to help make sure that your company never appears as an implementation casualty result on Google.

One mistake wine, spirit and beer distributors make is not pulling the ERP vendor's project manager into the sales cycle. You should ask to speak with the project manager who will be assigned to your implementation so you can get a feel for their industry experience. Having a project manager lead the implementation that is familiar with your business means a smoother, quicker implementation since they do not need to take time to familiarize themselves with your business.

Another benefit of having an industry expert lead your implementation is that they can provide you with a realistic implementation plan that encompasses the true resources needed each step of the way. Many ERP vendors set up unrealistic goals prior to implementation, which leads to unrealistic budgets and resource allocation. This means either your company ends up spending more money and using more man hours than originally thought, or that shortcuts are taken and things are set up improperly from the start.

An expert project manager that has successfully led similar implementations will also be able to help your company outline goals for the implementation. They will walk you through the different business areas in which you should expect to see business benefits from their ERP software, and help you determine how best to judge the improvements. This will help ensure your company has documented areas to look for improvements as your company gets up and running on the software system.

About Apprise Software

Founded in 1984, with offices in North America, China, Korea, Australia, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, Apprise Software is a leading provider of integrated ERP and SCM software and services for wine, spirits and beer distributors. Leveraging the latest technologies — such as Microsoft® .NET, wireless warehouse solutions, RFID, cloud and iPad applications — along with industry best practices, our solutions deliver reduced costs, improved efficiencies, enhanced revenues and profitability, and a quick return on investment.