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The soft route to a flexible business

Richard Mills, Retail Industry Principle at SAP, believes that now, more than ever, wholesalers need to ensure that they have an infrastructure that will support growth and improve operations through real-time, end-to-end visibility

Faced with shrinking margins, growing costs, and new competitors, wholesalers must ensure they can anticipate customer requirements and improve their responsiveness. However, most wholesale distributors are more likely to have a hodgepodge of isolated software products in use in their business, leading to lost productivity in work hours spent re-entering data, high error rates from manually entered data and lack of visibility to the information necessary to make decisions.

Addressing the issue of disparate systems is the first step needed to gain better control of business operations and to increase the efficiency of operations. A single integrated suite of software - often referred to as an ERP or enterprise resource planning solution – can provide advantages to the business, accommodating the breadth of the company’s business processes, while providing flexibility to tailor the suites to meet specific business needs.

For many, SAP ERP has become the software backbone supporting a high level of performance across key operations. It can provide an integrated, enterprise-wide information system designed to co-ordinate all the resources, information, and activities needed to complete core business processes, including billing and fulfilment.

The software allows all stakeholders to see the same data, at the same time, but each in their own terms. Having access to the right data and insights can help wholesalers make smarter decisions across all participating functions. For example, SAP BusinessObjects provides the comprehensive analytics tools for SAP ERP systems, enabling wholesalers to effectively operate every piece of the value chain, from forecasting and planning to allocation and replenishment. Analytic tools are embedded within business processes, displaying all relevant information in a consolidated, integrated, and actionable view.
The tools can provide alerts when performance measurements are out of line with expectations. They allow wholesalers to drill down into data for individuals and organisations. This information can help identify the root cause of problems and prescribe appropriate solutions based on predicted product demand and emerging buying trends – all via a mouse click. With the analytics capabilities embedded in ERP solutions, wholesalers can also gain access to real-time reports and perform in-depth financial, operational and multidimensional analysis for improved decision-making and demand prediction that give them an edge over the competition.

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