Many business owners consider enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems the backbone of their business operations—and rightfully so. ERPs are mainly used by companies to track, store, and interpret data from their different business activities. It also often functions as your business’s “source of truth” that gives you a platform to integrate external applications in order to manage and automate various activities with internal or external stakeholders.
Small businesses, especially those in wholesale, can benefit the most from cloud-based ERPs as these streamline their business’s supply chain management, integrate their accounts payables, and digitize their entire manufacturing process—all using one powerful solution, an ERP.
Most ERPs come with essential tools embedded within their system, including applications for the following tasks:
- Inventory control
That being said, some verticals require vertical-specific software. In those cases, an industry-agnostic “one-size-fits-all” solution may not be the best fit.
There are plenty of ERPs available in the market. Some feature a combination of integrated apps and tools, which can make them compatible with some businesses and unsuited for others. For this reason, choosing the right ERP vendor is critical to your success. In this blog, we flesh out the details of the various business types and make recommendations for which ERP suits them best, given their operating requirements.
If you’re in retail, you probably think that your eCommerce platform is enough to run your online store—you may be right, but it will be challenging.
Online sales can be daunting. There's a lot of preparation and work in the back end which requires time, effort, and consistency. Manually performing inventory tasks makes everything more complicated and prone to error. Automating these tasks can make all the difference. You can do this by getting an ERP to integrate with your eCommerce platform.
nChannel cites the following benefits of eCommerce-ERP integration:
- Increase output while reducing errors by automating order, inventory, item, customer, and shipping data management
- Streamline inventory synchronization, track updates, and provide accurate inventory levels to customers
- Automatic shipping notifications and order tracking
- Simple price management
- Efficient process of adding online (online stores and marketplaces) and offline (brick & mortar) sales channels
- Automated tax compliance processes
- Handle increased demand for online orders without extra resources
Suitable ERP: QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Online (QBO) is an accounting software that includes tools to keep your books accurate and up to date, automatically. It features invoicing, cash flow, expense tracking, and more, all in one platform.
This version is hosted online and allows you to sync apps that you may already use—like Paypal, Shopify, and Square. Once your apps are all synchronized, QBO automatically streamlines your data to help your productivity.
Portability is one of QuickBooks Online’s strong suits, as it can run on various devices including desktops, laptops, mobile phones or tablets—making it suitable for business owners and managers who are always on the go. It also boasts free and unlimited support should you need any help or have questions about running your business.
Manufacturers classified as medium-scale businesses lie awkwardly in the middle of the industry. They are either too small to compete with large enterprises or too big to target retail consumers. Business capacity, by itself, makes it more challenging for owners and managers to handle most of the backend tasks. If you're a medium-sized manufacturing company, we recommend an ERP software which can scale with your business and can provide a platform for you to operate.
Netsuite ERP is designed to evolve and grow alongside the company which it helps operate. From advanced financials to supply chain management, and billing, the NetSuite ERP provides companies the tools to accelerate growth. It allows flexibility so you can set the pace for your development.
Here are Netsuite’s key benefits:
- Broad range of robust ERP
Streamline business processes and free up the time and resources needed to accelerate growth, drive innovation and remain competitive.
- Built-in business intelligence
Combine data with visual analytics to generate meaningful and actionable business insights.
- Designed to support growth
Easily add and customize functionality as your company grows by leveraging a highly scalable business management system.
Meanwhile, Sage Intacct is a financial management and accounting software built specifically for finance. It prides itself as an alternative to Netsuite and relies on full automation of business processes to efficiently run your business. It allows great flexibility and scalability for your business by cutting downtime and costs on mundane tasks which can be automated. Sage Intacct also connects and streamlines processes from billing, accounting, reporting, and Salesforce.
If you're a small-scale manufacturer, you’ll need all the resources you can get while saving as much as you can to earn a profit. Buying an ERP above your income and requirements could only result in losses. And while it's great to have all applications and tools in one platform, it's possible to have too much of the good things when it comes to ERPs.
Find the middle ground between getting all apps necessary to make your work easier and the amount of money you should be spending on it. It's more reasonable to get just what you need and then assess if that needs to change much later.
Suitable ERP: Quickbooks Enterprise
QuickBooks Enterprise (QBE) is a desktop-based accounting software and is widely considered best suited for manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries within the small and medium business segment.
As Intuit's most powerful accounting software, QBE boasts tools such as advanced reporting, robust pricing, and an advanced inventory that can list up to 1 million items. It’s also packed with an inventory Cycle Count, a feature that helps improve productivity by providing a real-time count of your inventory without having to shut down your warehouse. It also gives you the ability to scan barcodes to enter data which speeds up the picking process and reduces data entry error.
QBE lets you switch from average costing to FIFO inventory costing. This type of costing gives you the flexibility to track inventory according to your preferred method. It also lets you use an enhanced pick, pack, and ship process where the entire sales—from order to fulfillment—can be tracked via a central dashboard.
Open source ERPs are also available online with little to no cost. One example is Odoo, an all-in-one business software that offers a free community version—where the application is available for free when you avail of their hosted service (you can also opt to host it on your own website for an additional price). This open source version is a compilation of apps that covers everything from warehousing, manufacturing, and sales channels, to timesheets, websites, and purchasing.
Adding other apps typically costs around $12 to $72 per month depending on the app. This system works perfectly for newer businesses especially those who are new to using ERPs. It’s also relatively inexpensive while allowing room for growth.
The Sweet Spot
Although it’s a given that there’s still no one-size-fits-all ERP solution for every type of small to medium-scale business, there is one that comes close. Sweet Technology is a cloud-based inventory management software built specifically for wholesale businesses. It’s an excellent option for small manufacturers and integrates well with QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Enterprise.
Sweet is designed to help grow your business by:
- Building connections with your customers
- Serving as the central hub for all your business activities
- Automating basic processes for maximum efficiency and growth
Overall, no matter the size of your business, what’s important is identifying your business needs—separate the must-haves from the nice-to-haves—and choose an ERP which can fulfill your requirements and can scale along with you.