For today’s distributor, business moves faster than ever. Pair this with low margins and high expectations, and you are in an environment where you can’t afford to fall behind. While there are many paths to success, distributors around the world have found that through integration and automation, they can maintain or gain a competitive edge.

Following our last blog on the trends and goings on in the world of distribution, we would today like to turn our attention to some of the features that could take you there.

There are many things you should look for in a distribution software. From risk reduction to technological innovation, high value to increased functionality, your choice of software could make or break your business. The right technology can help you control inventory to efficiently manage your distribution process without losing track of costs.

Knowing this, we would today like to share with you nine things your software should focus on that make you more productive, as part of our checklist on the topic.

Intuitive and Usable Software

Intuition and usability, two sides of the same coin. Not only should a platform be user friendly, it should be able to handle your needs as you need to handle them. Today’s distribution software should be easy to learn and easy to use, providing a friendly user experience no matter the experience level.

Recently, a report from leading analyst firm Nucleus Research looked into the concept of usability, comparing 22 vendors on their product usability and functionality and the value that customers realize from the capabilities of the product, finding Acumatica as a ‘leader’ in their report.

Universal Availability—Anytime Anywhere Access

Many distribution firms operate where their customers are. Knowing how important this is, being able to see a clear picture of product inventory and needs no matter the location is a key component of being more productive and profitable.

Knowing this, the cloud has empowered today’s multi-location business to do more and do it faster. With access available from a web browser, today’s distribution professional can access the information they need when and where they need it.

Multi-Language

Whether it’s your customers, warehouse staff, or your suppliers, the global business world operates in a variety of languages. For many businesses, this means that you will not only be working in English, and your ERP solution should facilitate the communications. From offering a supplier portal or sending invoices in a customer’s language to offering your warehouse staff inventory reports in their language, you can improve customer, supplier, and employee relationships.

Multi-Currency

While the world operates in more than one language, it operates in even more currencies, and capturing the best exchange rate can save you thousands. Currency Management automatically computes realized and unrealized gains and losses, performs account revaluations, and translates financial statements to the currency of your customers and suppliers.

Workflow Control

Purchasing, sales, ordering, and inventory. Leading businesses need the right workflows to take control of the way they do business. Whether it’s in the form of approving a purchase order or verifying account, workflow management can help you automate business processes, approvals, and notifications.

Team Wiki

How are you keeping everyone on the same page? With organization Wikis, you can easily share information and company documents among any combination of teams, departments, and external users.

Document Management and Access Control

While access is one thing, control is another. The right documents need to be available to the right people at the right time, and it pays to keep it that way. A good Document Management (DM) system can enable customer service staff to review order-related documents while on the phone with a customer to quickly resolve issues.

An ERP system with integrated Document Management, however, can allow a company to coordinate complex pivots to identify a production batch or shipment for recall, and facilitate the immediate communication with retailers, manufacturers, and customers, to expedite the return, testing, repair, replacement and/or destruction of irreparable stock.

Single Database

A single version of the truth. No matter how many companies you have under your control, no matter how many countries you operate in, you can’t afford to waste time waiting for a document or report to be edited, only to find out a coworker made a change on the wrong version.

The right ERP solution can keep everyone on the same page by providing them with a single database to work from, removing any hassles that come from emails and ‘versions’ of documents that gum up the decision making process.

Comprehensive Reporting and Automation

When you look to be more productive, you need more than just data from your ERP system. You want the information you need presented in a format for you and fellow stakeholders to make decisions about your business or react to competitive market challenges. Knowing this, the right reports are critical to making the right decisions, and shouldn’t be a hassle to create. Comprehensive reporting gives you the power to make informed decisions without the guesswork, speeding up your business and making decision-making easier.

Get the Guide: Distribution Management System Evaluation Checklist

Productivity is only one area of concern for leading distributors. If you are looking to see what else you may need when looking at software, including functionality necessities, technological innovations, high value, and low risk, we invite you to download the free Distribution Management System Checklist to compare solutions and make an informed, rational decision.