Companies in the promotional products industry need a software solution that fits their business model and addresses the specific functionality needs of the industry. They need a unique combination of ERP, CRM, warehouse and distribution, and ecommerce software and some also need software for light manufacturing. Most companies choose a software solution that is strong in one or the other, but not all. Why? Until now, there just wasn’t a product on the market that presented leading-edge functionality in all five areas. Companies picked the one they wanted and supplemented it with other products, creating a bit of a Frankenstein solution, sewn together here and there where absolutely necessary, if at all.
Why is it so important to have a single, tightly-integrated system? An integrated Cloud ERP, CRM, and e-commerce system with robust warehouse and distribution functionality can provide significant operating and competitive advantages for growing promotional products companies, allowing them to operate more efficiently and to provide a superior customer experience. Those types of advantages drop right to the bottom line. Here are five advantages of a combined Cloud system:
1. Single data repository
By using a single, integrated system, you are using a single data repository for all of the financial and operational data, avoiding the need for both duplicate data entry and reconciling and synchronizing the data in separate databases. This ensures consistent information across multiple views, so whether you are a salesperson dealing with a client or a procurement specialist or an accountant, you will see the same information. Product information will be consistent across multiple channels and customer services teams will see consistent real-time information.
2. Process optimization
Processes generally span more than one function and using several disjointed systems can break down even the best-optimized processes. When employees have to use multiple systems to take a process from beginning to end, the probability exists for duplicate effort and frustration and well as for increased errors. For example, if a customer asks for a quote, makes a purchase of half of the items on the quote, receives the goods, and then pays the invoice, tracking those transactions through multiple systems can be confusing and time-consuming. But if all of those individual processes are run through a single system, you’ll be able to trace the transaction from beginning to end much more easily. Plus, you’ll be able to automate workflows when they use a single system and a single database. Using a single system will also increase the efficiency of your employees and the accuracy of their work, and your customers will notice the difference.
3. Enhanced customer experience
Your customers are the heart of your business and satisfied customers are the key to continued growth. A Cloud-based system that integrates customer-related workflows and information will provide an enhanced customer experience that leads to satisfied customers. For instance, access to real-time inventory levels can prevent frustration when placing orders and a smooth, integrated returns management process will gain lots of points in customer satisfaction. Take that a step further and provide a customer portal where customers can see their order status, account balance, invoices, and more at their convenience and without having to interact with customer representatives. When customer service is necessary, representatives can use a 360-degree view of the customer—with information like credit limits, order history, buying habits, and returns—to assist customers at key points and everybody wins. Further, a single data repository will enable better insights for lasting customer relationships; think in terms of customer preferences, loyalty, proactive sales suggestions, and greater lifetime value.
4. Greater efficiency
Not only will you achieve greater efficiency through process optimization, an integrated, Cloud-based systems will increase efficiency in other ways. Anywhere, anytime access to the entire range of company-wide data from any device (within security parameters) means that you will have access to consistent data from the whole span of the transaction and even the full customer history from the road. You won’t be the bottleneck delaying the big deal and you won’t have to wait for insights like most popular colors if you run into an on-the-spot deal while attending a tradeshow or visiting a vendor. You will have improved communication and collaboration among employees, which will result in faster, better decisions. An integrated system will also provide more comprehensive, easier to create reports and dashboards.
5. Reduced resource utilization
A single system means less time and effort on the part of your IT department. They have one system to learn and support, one data schema to know, and one system to troubleshoot if something doesn’t look right. Removing multiple systems means removing double and even triple the complexity, freeing up IT resources for other necessities. A single system for ERP, CRM, distribution and warehouse operations, manufacturing, and e-commerce also means less training, less log-ins, and less support.
If you are ready to step up from systems like QuickBooks or ProfitMaker, look to a complete, Cloud-based solution that will help you step up your game and your profitability. Acumatica offers Cloud ERP solutions, including CRM, warehouse and distribution, manufacturing, and e-commerce components that provide flexibility and adaptability as well as industry-specific advantages that will enable you to leave your competitors in the dust.
Originally posted May 12, 2017. Updated for relevance and accuracy.
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