8 important things to consider when integrating a Direct Store Delivery system to your ERP
You are a consumer goods company. More and more, your retail customers are demanding a proactive approach on your part to restock and merchandise the shelves. After all, it’s much less expensive for them to use your labor as opposed to theirs …
In order to meet this requirement effectively, you are going to need a Direct Store Delivery and Route sales software – BUT, you probably already have an ERP system in place that manages your inventory, receivables and all other aspects of your business. Chances are, if you have an ERP system, you’ve already spent a lot of time and money on training and deployment. You’ve trained your staff on how to set up customers, create credit policies, enter inventory, pricing, promotions and the rest, and you may be asking yourself: “just how are these two systems going to work together?” or ” how much work will integrating direct store delivery systems to an ERP will it take” and you might even wonder “do I really need an integrated system?”
Let’s take a dive into some of the key issues you will need to consider. This post is meant to discuss practical business processes, and not technical integration issues. We will cover technical integration issues in another post.
1. Where will my data live?
Some DSD systems have their own modules for maintaining data such as customer, inventory pricing, etc. Others will rely on extracting this data from your ERP system. You will need to understand what the main source of the data is going to be. For example, if you enter new pricing schedules into your ERP, will they automatically be integrated to the DSD system? Or will you have to rekey it altogether? A well-designed integration will clearly define where the source data is maintained, and will manage to keep the data synched between both platforms.
2. How fresh will my data be on the mobile devices?
Let’s say you input a new customer record in the ERP system: when will that data be available on the mobile devices? Some data, such as customer records, may only need to be synchronized once a day, whereas inventory availability should be integrated in real-time as much as possible.
3. What is the DSD vendor using to integrate to my ERP?
The DSD vendor should always be using APIs, or whatever integration method is authorized and certified by the ERP vendor. Make sure the DSD vendor is familiar with and has experience with these tools.
4. Do the two systems have support for key functionality?
For example, let’s say your ERP system has a robust and fancy way to set customer pricing and promotions. Given that most DSD systems work off-line, will the DSD system be able to capture these prices? Will it be able to enforce the promotions that I set up?
5. So where exactly is the line between the Direct Store Delivery System and the ERP system?
The expression ‘go with what you know’ definitely applies here, so let the ERP system do what it was designed to do. ERPs were designed to handle master customer information, credit policies, inventory control, accounting, financial reporting, and more. Let it continue to do so.
The DSD should leverage the ERP data, and supplement it with the functions required for a DSD operation. For example, the DSD system should handle route setup, route maintenance, order creation, deliveries, payment collections, start of day and end of day cash and inventory reconciliation. The system should also provide the sales and delivery personnel with customer buying history, pricing, inventory stock positions, everything they need to successfully complete a sales or delivery transaction while in front of the customer.
6. Are There Licensing Implications?
Some ERP vendors will allow a DSD system to integrated to it without any licensing or cost implications. However, others may require you to add a new ERP user, or purchase an integration license. Before you decide to integrate, you need to ask your ERP vendor what the rules are.
7. Are the DSD vendor and ERP Vendor familiar with one another?
Integrating an application to an ERP system requires tremendous knowledge of that ERP system. There are literally endless configuration options in both systems that will affect the way the system behaves. The DSD vendor needs to understand the ERP system you are using, or at least, work directly with someone from the ERP vendor that can guide the DSD company through the integration process. For example, one of the most common integration points in a DSD system is a simple “Transfer Order” that moves inventory from one site to another. Let’s say the DSD system tries to transfer inventory from Warehouse A to Warehouse B, and there is not enough physical inventory to actually complete the transfer. What happens when the transaction is integrated? Will it fail? Will it override quantities? What are the rules? To avoid these and other potential pitfalls, both sides need to understand the business logic for all these transactions.
8. Let the end users’ needs drive the decisions
Ultimately, you are investing in DSD software to decrease costs and improve sales on the road. To accomplish this, you are going to need full acceptance from your end users. They need a solution that will allow them to get in and out of a store quickly and efficiently – that means you don’t want a system that simply mimics processes in the ERP system – you need a system that considers the mobile user’s experience in the field first and foremost, and worries about the integration back to the ERP second.
Businesses are integrating Direct Store Delivery systems with their accounting systems with very successful outcomes. Whether you’re using Dynamics GP, Dynamics 365, NetSuite, Epicor or some other accounting system, integration holds many advantages, especially for an overworked customer service and sales team. Instead of having to go back and forth between different reports and lists, a direct store delivery operation will greatly benefit from ERP integration, as it saves both time and effort. An integrated direct store delivery system is an invaluable tool that suppliers can rely on to keep them focused and on track to maximize their field sales operations.
JLan Mobile Sales: your authority for Direct Store Delivery and Route Sales Software
jLAN Mobile is a leader in mobile software technology for your field sales teams. If you operate a consumer brands business and would like to learn more, get in touch today. We would love to hear more about what you do, and talk about how jLAN Mobile Sales can help take your company to the next level.