Whilst we’ve seen recent COVID lockdowns cause many businesses to shut their doors, those still operating have significantly increased their demand for cleaning and PPE supplies. As the COVID vaccine rolls out and businesses start to re-open, this demand will continue to escalate. Increased requirements for cleaning supplies will not simply dissipate and janitorial wholesalers need to be armed with the right technology to enable them to maximise the related sales opportunities that will be available to them.
In this article, we’ll discuss how modern ERP designed for the cleaning supplies industry can directly enable janitorial wholesalers to maximise turnover and increase efficiencies. For those currently using a business software system or accounts package, we’ll also demonstrate how ERP differs and why it is best suited to your industry. Finally, for those considering a move to a modern ERP platform, we’ll detail some best practice next steps you can follow.
- What Benefits Can Janitorial and PPE Supply Businesses Gain from ERP Software?
- Which ERP Software is Best Suited to Janitorial and PPE Supply Businesses?
What Benefits Can Janitorial and PPE Supply Businesses Gain from ERP Software?
Many businesses in this sector are currently using ‘functional’ business software to run their business. It facilitates order entry, stock tracking, accounts, and credit control management etc. But where it is failing the business is in its inability to provide the personalisation, automation and analytics capabilities needed to better control the business, maximise efficiencies and scale for the future.
Let’s delve a little deeper into some of the direct benefits
- The Need for Speed – The technology you use to run your wholesale business needs to keep pace with it and not lag behind. Clunky, slow systems frustrate your employees and your customers. Speedy order entry, easy access to data and real-time web integration are standard tenets of modern ERP software. An effective ERP system will become your business-wide solution unifying all your business data, whether that be data from suppliers, web orders, mobile apps, couriers etc., in real-time.
- Effective Stock Management – BREXIT has definitely shone a light on the impact of any disruptions to supply chains. Order lead times for many products have increased with businesses under greater pressure to manage their supply lines carefully to avoid out of stocks. ERP systems designed for janitorial and cleaning supply wholesalers come pre-baked with advance stock management and forecasting capabilities to ensure you have the right stock in place at the right time. This should be a given, but also look for the additional cherries on top.
Can your telesales team see information such as alternative products, order arrival dates, stock in other branches? This will help them address your customers’ needs there and then instead of issuing that dreaded statement; ‘I’ll have to check. I’ll call you back’ – a statement today’s modern digital customer doesn’t expect to hear anymore.
- The Role of Automation – With ERP software, you can transform tedious, time-consuming tasks into efficient automated workflows at company, role or user level. It’s all about making sure that the information you or your team members need to know comes to find you. You shouldn’t have to sift through reports, or even leave the user screen you are working on to readily access the information you need. Operating in this fashion will save countless man-hours. In addition, the use of automated alerts and controls provides you with a seamless way to enforce your business rules, QC procedures and protect margin 24/7.
- Decision Making on Auto-Pilot – With an effective business-wide system in place, you have ready access to accurate, transparent data from every area of your business delivered to you in a format that enables you to make effective, timely, data-driven decisions. If, for example, you need to ensure all deliveries have left your warehouse by 4pm to facilitate next day delivery, you set up a KPI control desk in your ERP system with a traffic light system forewarning you of any issues. Or perhaps you want to analyse what your customers are NOT buying to identify upselling opportunities. Or you set up replenishment rules aligned to your business to deliver recommended purchase orders. It’s about making your data work harder for you and your team to help you excel.
- Your Competitive Edge – No two businesses operate in the same way. Every customer we work with has a unique way of working and for good reason. It is often these unique ways of working that help them retain a competitive edge. Out-of-the-box, industry-specific functionality is a given when you are working with an ERP vendor with expertise in the wholesale sector. Rigid functionality that is unable to flex to how you want to operate will hold you back. Modern ERP software delivers advanced levels of agility to enable you to tweak the solution to your requirements. This functionality is termed ‘codeless customisation’ and it ensures your software system can adapt with your business yet still remain on the standard upgrade path.
- Remote Everything – The acceleration of Cloud adoption has been amplified by COVID and now remote access to your ERP software is vital. In addition, ERP software now also seamlessly extends to native mobile apps giving your delivery drivers and sales reps one-touch access to relevant ERP data and functions on their smartphone.
Which ERP Software is Best Suited to Janitorial and PPE Supply Businesses?
For those seeking out a replacement ERP solution for their business, it can be a minefield. You can choose a generic global ERP solution such as SAP, Infor, Oracle etc. implemented by one of their local partners. These options are robust solutions, used worldwide across multiple industries.
For some, however, the lack of direct engagement and industry-specific expertise leaves these solutions on the cutting room floor. Local, wholesale-focused ERP providers who have developed flexible, modern solutions with the wholesale industry in mind are often favoured. Whilst they may not be global entities supported with billion-dollar resources, their industry focus and close proximity to the end customer can make them a better fit for those businesses seeking standard ERP functionality + robust sector-specific functionality + the scope to flex the solution to accommodate specific nuances.
Regardless of the global versus local route you pursue, there are a number of key features that should form part of your pre-requisite functions list when engaging prospective ERP vendors.
- Proactive Telesales – You need a telesales module that enables you to proactively manage your customers by whatever criteria you choose e.g., route, day etc. And you need to be able to configure and design it so you can split calls, view order history, add promotions and feature customer favourites all with standard functionality such as price controls etc.
- Multiple Order Steams – Process orders from multiple sources including mobile sales team, in house telesales, automatically via EDI, directly from your website or manually entered in-house. For those customers using excel order forms, ensure your future solution can accept text to item order entry. This is where text from excel can be pasted directly into your software system and auto-creates your required quote or purchase order.
- Order Profiles and Customer Favourites – Automatically create individual order profiles for customers based on historical information for certain times in the year and use as templates for order entry.
- Hazardous Materials – Restrict the sale of certain products to specific customers and attach product information within your system.
- Batch Tracking – Ensure you can easily track manufacturer, expiry and best before dates. This will also enable a quick and effective way to deal with product recalls based on batch tracking.
- Predictive Stock Management – Ensure your future ERP solution can facilitate powerful order point calculations and replenishment rules to ensure you have the correct stock at the right time in the right place.
- Transport Scheduling – As access to couriers is at an all-time high, many wholesalers are bringing logistics in house. If this applies to your business, ensure the ERP solution you chose includes transport scheduling functionality. Features such as auto allocating routes down to manually creating routes through drag and drop functionality or booking a journey at the point of sale should be catered for.
- Integrated CRM & Marketing – Whether you want to simply record and manage interactions against customers suppliers or should you require a CRM system to manage your leads, prospects, customers and/or suppliers and related marketing campaigns, your future ERP solution should facilitate these requirements as part of their integrated offering.
- Mobile Access – Your sales reps should be able to open their smartphone to view and record CRM interactions, customer information etc. In addition, your delivery drivers can also use the mobile apps modern wholesale ERP offers to capture remote PODs and capture the time, location and a supporting image of delivery drop-offs with all this data fed back in real-time to your ERP system.
- Contract Orders – If supplying government agencies or other contract orders, having a bespoke function that tracks contract orders, values, percentage consumed, and any other related variable can be extremely beneficial.
- Stock by… – If you manage stock by size, colour etc., for example gloves, aprons etc, ensure your chosen system supports matrix/indexed product functionality so that your team can easily view and manage the product range in a matrix format aligned to size, style, colour etc.
- Data Analytics – Business intelligence shouldn’t be an add-on or subset of your ERP solution. It should flow throughout it. Ensure your chosen solution can supply you with real-time reporting (scheduled and exception reporting), user-based control desks/KPI dashboards, workflow-driven alerts and an in-built analytics tool that lets you easily deep dive to uncover require insights.