Earlier we discussed how various industries could benefit from customer relationship management software. While supply chain management isn’t obviously related to customer relationship management, it’s reasonable to assert that if a manufacturer is unable to control logistical issues, the relationships with their customers will suffer. So, we are going to discuss some of the top software out there for supply chain management.
Any product based business, at some point or another, is going to face issues with their supply chain management. Doing business the old way, with spreadsheets or even worse, paper, is a recipe for disaster in the modern era. The fast paced nature of business requires that real time information is processed, and records are updated instantaneously. What’s more, these functions should be carried out regardless of where your team is. In other words, the ability of a team to conduct these operations remotely is essential to the survival of a business.
To meet these demands, there is a whole host of companies offering supply chain management software. These software packages streamline a great deal of the daily logistical functions for product based businesses. Among the features offered are:
- Customer requirement processing – for a business that deals with many customers, the ability to keep track of who needs what is critical. No two customers are going to have the same needs, even for similar products (at the very least, branding will be different), so keeping track of this quickly and seamlessly is a core feature of many supply chain management software platforms.
- Purchase order processing – since the business spends so much time ordering new materials or supplies, it is also necessary to integrate a function to automate and streamline the purchase order processing aspect of the business.
- Inventory management – if a business is at all attempting to adhere to LEAN principles, they will immediately deem excess inventory to be waste. After all, if it’s sitting around in their warehouse it’s just taking up space and not generating revenue. That warehouse space could be used for products with much higher velocity, which would increase cash flow for the business. As such, most of these packages come with inventory management functions that allow the business to not only minimize excess inventory, but to accurately forecast demand in advance.
- Warehouse management – it’s no secret that managing a warehouse system is a logistical nightmare in and of itself. Staffing must be handled to ensure that there is sufficient hands on deck to meet demand at any given time. Intake must be handled seamlessly, storage must be completely problem free, as well as moving products out of the warehouse to be sold to customers. Even the ability to dictate which goods are unloaded in order is a critical function, as it can minimize the travel time for employees and robots, thus increasing operational efficiency.
- Supplier management – another challenge facing product businesses is the issue of supplier management. It is necessary to keep track of which suppliers are used for which products, what their strengths are, any issues encountered with them, and how much is owed/does the business owe to them. Consequently, supplier management functions are built into each of the top software packages for supply chain management.
To enable the software vendor to serve businesses of all sizes, there has been a shift towards cloud based solutions. These are known as Software as a Service solutions, as the business does not license the software directly. Rather, the software vendor runs the software locally on their cluster of computers and then allows the business to connect to their central servers. This allows the business to skip out on having to purchase and maintain a large amount of expensive computing infrastructure, and associated personnel costs. Moreover, this model allows the business to change solutions quickly and effectively should the software no longer meet their growing needs.
3PL Warehouse Manager
This software is designed specifically for third party logistics suppliers (3PL), and comes with a 30 day risk free trial. This is a great benefit for smaller operations that couldn’t necessarily afford to pay upfront for an expensive subscription to a SaaS product. Should the product not be what the business is looking for, they can cancel within the first 30 days to receive a refund.
The 3PL Warehouse Manager software features e-commerce fulfillment, Quickbooks integration, and small parcel shipping. The user interface is lauded as being highly intuitive and user friendly, and the software itself can seamlessly integrate with existing internal systems.
The software offers the following features (directly from website)
Powerful reporting and status updates
- Global inventory visibility for every user, in real-time
- The ability to support multiple warehouses for both large and small facilities
- Capabilities to customize user access to their security level
- Remote access to standard and customized reports, such as inventory status, shipment status, parcel tracking information, and more
- Email notifications are sent automatically to inform of key warehouse events
Features to increase profitability
- Maintain total visibility
- Full order management with direct EDI support, web service API for integrating with other applications, order imports from Excel or manual data entry
- Customizable packing slips
- Order allocation management
- Inventory management by lot number, serial number, or expiration date
- Multiple barcode scanning for increased accuracy
- Direct FedEX and UPS integration to streamline your business shipping operations
Advanced 3PL Billing and Cost Wizard
- The software allows for customer specific pricing so the business doesn’t miss out on revenue opportunities
- Capture billing at the end of each transaction
- Ensures key costs associated with a transaction are captured and billed accordingly
- Fully customizable to capture and track recurring expenses, including monthly minimums, storage and other user defined categories
All of these features are built right into the software, and come backed by a money back guarantee. Best of all, it directly interfaces with Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, Magneto, and QuickBooks. For the business owner, this means seamless integration into pre-existing systems.
This software package is billed as the “One Inventory Management System to Rule them All” (we see what you did there). While this may just be marketing speak, TradeGecko does indeed offer a full suite of functionality for the growing warehouse and product business. It features inventory management features that help the business to anticipate demand and get reorder notifications in time to minimize the chance for stock outs. It also has the capability to accommodate international growth by supporting multiple warehouses in many different locations.
For product businesses it is able to seamlessly integrate with existing complementary SaaS systems. This includes the ability to have all customer and supplier data in one place to enable more efficient customer relationship management. The bean counters will love the integrated automated invoicing to allow visibility into the financial situation of the business.
As with other solutions, this package is cloud based. This means the business owner doesn’t have to invest in expensive infrastructure, and their team members can access the necessary data from anywhere they have internet access. It has mobile customer relationship software to enable convenient business management on the go.
Trackvia is a configurable web and mobile supply chain management software suite that helps businesses to completely eliminate paper or spreadsheet based processes. It can handle inventory and asset management, supplier management, quality management, compliance job and labor tracking, and order fulfillment operations.
TrackVia offers the potential to streamline business operations through better data collection. It features the ability to scan barcodes, take signatures, snap pictures, and even record time and location information instantly.
In addition to streamlining the data collection process, TrackVia can help speed up a business’ workflow. It accomplishes this by enabling easily configurable notifications, task assignment, or alerting to groups and/or individuals automatically when tasks are completed or when quality metrics take a dip outside of acceptable levels.
All of this data can be quickly compiled into visually appealing charts, graphs, and reports that give the team real time data on all the critical quality metrics and activities of the organization. These can be shared or even scheduled to disburse to others automatically. Best of all, these charts are interactive so the user can really get down into the details if they desire.
TrackVia offers the following quality control functionality
- Quality inspection results can be uploaded in real time
- Defects can be tracked and the data can be used to discover problem suppliers
- Real time field audits can be performed with instant data upload
- The software can help the business ensure that strict ISO compliance is maintained
- Emergency and safety procedures can be stored in one place and accessible from all mobile devices in the event they are needed
TrackVia also has a number of inventory and asset tracking features, such as
- Real time visibility into inventory to allow just in time ordering of critical supplies
- Tabs on usage of equipment and assets to make sure maintenance is conducted on time
- Down time management for assets to ensure that the business is always running at full bore
TrackVia is a great option for a growing warehouse or product based business. They don’t have a money back offer, however they do give demos upon request.
Supply chain management software is critical for the modern business. With the highly competitive nature of B2C and B2B operations these days, any advantage must be taken to ensure the survival and success of the business. These systems can often integrate with existing systems to enable higher operational efficiencies than the current systems employed by the business.
The common thread among all of the above listed software platform is the capability to respond to evolving demands and situations in real time. With customers expecting order fulfillment within a day, this is essential for the business. Should anything come up that would delay a customer order, the organization must be able to immediately and effectively respond. Failure to do so would often result in poor reviews, and reputational damage for the business. While a single incident isn’t likely to scuttle and otherwise successful business, systematic issues that go unaddressed can have far reaching consequences for even the most otherwise successful operations.
All of the benefits provided by these software platforms do not require that the business invest in huge amounts of underlying infrastructure. Rather, the business is able to leverage cloud based solutions that cut down on their overhead costs while still giving all of the desired benefits. In addition, the software can be accessed on mobile devices, so that key players can fulfill their functions from anywhere, at any time.
We covered but a few of the available options on the market today. Any of the above companies are great choices for a growing business to fulfill their logistical needs. If you are in the market for supply chain management software, please check out the recommended companies.