The core strength of Enterprise Wide Systems (ERP) is generally their integration and functionality across the enterprise. Their legacy functions include manufacturing, material resource planning, finance and accounting, human resources and payroll, sales order and warehousing. With the explosive growth of e-commerce and its fulfillment requirements, some ERPs have been successfully installed in direct and multichannel companies. Their functionality has been extended to include a broad range of functions: e-commerce platform and integrations, call center, credit authorization, fulfillment, direct marketing, etc.
ERPs are often a better alternative to OMS when a company’s multichannel requirements include wholesale, retail brick & mortar stores and selling to “Big Box” retailers in addition to direct to customer.
Another advantage is that software manufacturers such as Microsoft, Oracle, Sage, etc. are putting significant budgets into acquiring direct oriented systems; further program development; and advertising and marketing for the direct and multichannel marketplaces. The technology platforms which ERPs are built on have generally kept pace.
Most ERP are sold through Value Added Resellers (VARs). VARs take the base ERP and develop functionality and expertise for specific industry segments. These industry segments are often contractual with the software manufacturer (e.g. direct and multichannel, manufacturing, parts distribution, food and beverage, grocery, etc.). It does not mean the VAR can’t sell and install outside their industry if contacted by a prospect.
Important to successful installation of an ERP is the strength and expertise of the VAR. Selecting the right industry specific VAR is as important as the right ERP software. VARs continue to tailor and enhance the ERP with industry specific functionality for their installed data base. Additionally there are VARs that have solutions for large businesses that are not generally installed in small to moderate sized companies because of investment and implementation costs.
Some ERPs have extensive experience in retail but its brick & mortar stores. When you look at direct and multichannel fulfillment, you need to review at a detail level the direct and multichannel functionality which is needed for your company. Some areas to look closely at include promotional pricing by item, categories and customer types; source coding, marketing and promotional reporting; call center and customer service versus a sales order desk entry approach; fulfillment functions specific to direct businesses for small order pick, pack and ship, etc.
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