Companies in the business of transporting and delivering finished goods – such as wholesalers, logistics service providers, and distributors – can derive tremendous value from the implementation and use of a distribution software solution. But, speaking to vendors, evaluating applications, and selecting the best one can be time-consuming and confusing.
Not all distribution software packages are alike. While most contain similar features and functions, some are designed to address the most basic needs, while others are able to support highly sophisticated and multi-faceted distribution chains. Whether your needs are simple, or extremely complex, there are still certain attributes you should look for when selecting a distribution software system.
Distribution activities will differ dramatically from one industry to the next. Companies who deliver paper goods are likely to operate under a completely different business model than those who transport apparel, perishable goods, or large equipment. Additionally, companies who distribute chemicals or medical waste face unique challenges and regulations that don’t necessarily apply to other sectors.
That’s why it is so important to choose a distribution software vendor that has extensive expertise in your industry. Look for one with a long list of referenceable customers with businesses similar to yours, or one that offers a prepackaged distribution software application designed specifically for organizations in your sector.
Distributors of all types and sizes frequently interact and collaborate with numerous third parties – outsourced shipping service providers, vendors and suppliers, external storage facilities, and other key business partners. The key to maximizing the value of these relationships is through open communication and rapid information-sharing. So, be sure to choose a distribution software system that can facilitate bi-directional information flow with applications maintained by third-parties. This includes systems for FedEx, UPS, and other delivery firms, as well as e-commerce software and point-of-sale systems.
All distribution companies employ many remote and on-the-go workers. Warehouse staff, delivery personnel, and other mobile distribution professionals don’t operate out of company headquarters, but still need the ability to immediately retrieve vital data, at any time, in order to most effectively perform their jobs. That’s why many distribution software vendors make their solutions accessible via the Web, or through handheld devices such as cell phones and PDAs. This allows anyone, anywhere, to gather and interact with the information they require – regardless of their location.
Distribution chains have become highly complex. Operations are no longer contained to just internal departments and employees. They now include many external constituents like suppliers, customers, shipping service providers, etc. Unhindered collaboration, and the timely sharing of critical information, is vital to maximizing the value of these relationships. Be sure to choose a distribution software solution that can provide access to your business partners, allowing them to track and monitor all key activities and related data in real-time – in an environment that is both secure and easy to use.