Would you like to turbo-charge how your business handles sales, orders and stock control?
If you’re using a financials platform like Sage, Xero or QuickBooks to run your sales, order processing and stock management, you might well be finding it’s not giving you everything you need. If that’s the case, we’ve got good news for you: you can turbo-charge your financials package and get the best of both worlds, with all the advanced sales management, order processing and stock management functionality you need.
Lots of merchants are in the same boat. You’ve got a great financial package with the likes of Sage, QuickBooks or Xero, and it’s doing a brilliant job of handling your accounts. On the face of it, it’s also a simple, cost-effective way to manage orders, basic stock control and sales.
However, these platforms simply don’t have the advanced operational capability that an industry-specific system has. You could be missing out on really important, beneficial functions which might be able to transform not just your efficiency but also your profitability, scalability and growth trajectory.
Merchanting isn't as simple as retailing, as you know. You're dealing with complex orders, information and timelines. Having more advanced sales management, order processing and stock optimisation software at your fingertips could be extremely advantageous (and you don't even have to ditch your financials package to do it!)
Pros and cons of upgrading to an industry-specific, cloud-based ERP system
It’s a big decision, we know. And yes, we’re a bit biased when it comes to the solution we think you should opt for. The bottom line is though, you have to opt for a system that is right for you.
Chances are, if you’ve been using a financial package so far, it has a lot of benefits. And there’s no denying, there are some drawbacks to upgrading.
The cons might include:
Expense. ERP systems are expensive, there’s no doubt. (That said, they ought to be able to pay for themselves, and then some, in the benefits they return)
Disruptive, intimidating scale of change. There’s a lot of learning (and unlearning) to do and that can be painful for a while.
Significant training required. (A good reason to choose a system that’s as easy as possible to use!)
Complete overhaul of systems and processes internally which could also highlight flaws / loopholes and cause resistance
Trusting technology where previously you’ve relied on human judgement (don’t worry, a good system should still allow for the best of both worlds and reduce error, not remove people)
Timescales can be extensive for initial set up. Getting your system customised and fit for purposes takes a fairly hefty time commitment.
There’s often a lot of work involved for you to get all your information and data carried across. Obviously your ERP provider can help with this to a point, but there’s no getting away from the fact that there’s quite a lot to get done
But the benefits of a strong, industry-specific order management and stock control system far outweigh the temporary inconveniences of that initial investment.
Advantages of upgrading to an industry-specific ERP system include:
Scalability. Your system can grow with your business and you can add users, features and functionality as you need it.
Keep your financial system. There’s no need to ditch your current financials package – we simply integrate with it so everything ties together and you get the best of both worlds. We already have successful integrations with Sage, QuickBooks and Xero (among others) in place with customers so we know first-hand the benefits this offers.
Clarity. Functionality is aligned to user role so your system can flex to meet the needs of the people using it. Your trade counter staff can just have access to the tools they need, without their system being cluttered with irrelevant information.
Automation of repetitive, day to day processes saves A LOT of time. Auto-emailed invoices, reminders and so on really do add up and you can save multiple days every month in admin time alone.
Alerting focuses the attention where it’s needed, whether in stock gaps, pricing changes, credit control issues or unfulfilled orders. And because you know where the issues are you can quickly identify solutions before things get out of hand, and manage customer expectations.
Consistency. With everyone accessing the same system, using consistent processes and recording information in the right way, information is far easier to find and errors are reduced. It also means that over time, the quality of information in your system gets better and better, meaning fantastic reporting and analytics insights to drive smarter decision-making.
Clean slate. Yes there may be some teething pain getting set up, but once you’re up and running you can be confident the information is current, accurate and relevant.
Product specific capabiity. Construction materials don't all come in neat packs with barcodes on the back. Merchanting specific features like length reporting, metrics conversion and stock confidence are all designed specifically for the types of materials you work with day to day.
Stock optimisation. The advanced stock control functionality lets you enhance your stock profile, see exactly what’s happening in the business, reduce duplication and help you make more informed decisions around replenishment and merchandising. The intelligence and insights available in the system represents an enormous opportunity for merchants. Perpetual inventory is always preferable to intermittent and disruptive stocktakes, which are usually outdated by the time the next delivery leaves the yard.
Sales and order management. The complex nature of merchanting vs retailing makes advanced sales and order management software a must for merchants, agents and importers. The stock control is a huge bonus of course, but the sales processing power alone is enough of an advantage to be worth the investment. Being able to manage complex time lines, bulk orders, forward contracting, back to back deliveries and milling / processing instructions straight from an order really does make life a lot easier!
Convenience. The system fits around you, being available and accessible to you where you are. You aren’t tied to a desk or a PC – you get access in the yard, on the road, at the sawmill or port. It gives you control and visibility from wherever you are, and ensures the information held in the system is always up to date.
Quicker access to critical documents. You can digitally attach documents together – certifications, delivery notes etc, so you’re using less paper for a start, but also enabling much faster retrieval, fewer mistakes, and a lot less time spent searching through filing cabinets!
Amplified impact of every member of your workforce. When everyone plays their part, the sum of the information held within the system and its capabilities far outweigh the individual parts. Everyone’s role is key, and the magnified benefits of that system, where everyone pulls together to form a powerful whole, are huge.
Better service. All this adds up to a business offering the best service to your customers.
The easiest sale you’ll ever make
The easiest sale you’ll ever make is when you have the right stock in the right place at the right time, at the right price – and the right people know about it. But in merchanting, making that "simple" scenario happen is far from straightforward without the right tools.
With the advanced sales management, order processing and stock optimisation capability that an industry-specific ERP system can offer, you’re in the perfect position to make this happen more often, reducing your cost per sale while boosting productivity and profitability along the way.
If you’d like to see how easy Merchanter is to use, why not sign up here for our online demo system? We’ll send you login details and you can have 30 days to test drive the system with your own data, and discover what a difference it could make for your business.