Your Guide to Software Selection

The Best Cloud Distribution Software in 2019

Distributors have a tough job — whether it be coordinating with vendors, measuring inventory or preparing efficient shipping methods, the process is extremely detailed and is prone to human error. Fortunately, there are cloud distribution software options available to help coordinate operations among your staff, vendors and customers.

It’s a horrible feeling when your hard work is derailed by one unfortunate typo. In some circumstances, keying errors could be dangerous or even fatal. In a 2016 study, researchers found typos in 57 percent of sampled prescriptions. Fortunately, errors like these are more easily avoidable with the use of distribution software. Cloud-based distribution software can automate functions that typically require heavy user data input, therefore reducing opportunities for mistakes.

Software can be obtained in two ways — through on-premise installation or via the cloud. There are pros and cons to each of these methods, which we will examine in this article along with some important factors to consider when choosing software and a list of the best cloud distribution software.

What Is Cloud Distribution Software?

Cloud distribution software is a cloud-based solution (often falling under enterprise resource planning (ERP) software) that serves as an effective means of automating and streamlining your day-to-day operations. For example, you might use distribution software to keep track of your warehouse inventory and to automatically organize where items should be stocked based on which items are frequently purchased together. The software could then select the most cost-effective container to ship the package in.

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Ultimately, this software is used to organize and coordinate the many steps involved in the distribution process. There are many variations of cloud based distribution software available, so before making a selection you should ask yourself a few questions about your software needs.

  • What day-to-day processes are you looking to simplify? For example, are you hoping to automate the input of sales information to your accounting program? Make sure to write down these software needs and communicate them to the providers you are considering to ensure business alignment.
  • How big is your company? Some software is more effective for small companies, and some works better for large organizations. The size of your company is an important factor to consider when selecting your software.
  • How do you prefer to obtain your software? Both cloud-based and on-premise distribution solutions are available on the market. Getting your distribution software through the cloud may reduce installation costs. However, on-site installation is also still an option.
  • What is your budget? Yes, talking about money can be seen as taboo, but you definitely don’t want to bite off more than you can chew when you’re selecting software. Distribution software is an investment, but it shouldn’t deplete your resources.
  • What software/programs are you currently using? Make a list of your current technology portfolio and bring this to the table when you’re meeting with software companies. Depending on how you wish to integrate your current processes into your new software, you might need to get an open source distribution software.

What Are Some Features of Cloud-Based Distribution Software?

Distribution software features vary. This is why it is so important to create a list of specific software needs before making a selection. However, in general, distribution software may include the following:

Which Industries Benefit Most from Cloud Distribution Software?

Cloud distribution software is beneficial to a wide range of industries. Most software options are configurable and may even be open source so that you can integrate your current technology into your new software.

Also, cloud software is often more readily accessible to some companies than on-premise systems. Cloud-based products make it a lot easier for small and mid-sized companies to benefit from ERP distribution software. This is because cloud based distribution software is generally less expensive to set up than on-site software. Additionally, cloud-based products, with their low monthly fees, make it easier for some businesses to predict their expenses. Its usability is also appealing — you just need an internet connection, and you’re good to go.

Some of the industries that frequently take advantage of cloud distribution software include:

  • Manufacturing
  • ECommerce
  • Food and Beverage
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Wholesale
  • Retail
  • Electronics

What Is the Best Cloud Distribution Software?

As software becomes more readily accessible to various companies due to the proliferation of cloud-based solutions, more businesses are opting to receive their software via this deployment method. If you’ve decided that cloud-based distribution software is your preferred installation method, it’s now time to find one that fits your specific needs.

Our industry analysts have compiled a list of the five best cloud distribution software options on the market. Read on to learn more about the best software options available right now.

NetSuite ERP

Overview

NetSuite develops omnichannel and ERP software that is currently used by more than 16,000 customers. Their cloud-based software works well for companies of all sizes and works for Mac, Windows and Linux users.

There are 14 different industries that NetSuite caters its software to, while also developing solutions for CRM and ecommerce. Some of the key features of NetSuite’s cloud distribution software include order fulfillment, supplier/vendor relationship management and inventory tracking. NetSuite allows users control from acquisition to final payment, while simultaneously informing and improving its forecasting tool.

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Benefits

Order Management: NetSuite aligns sales, finance and fulfillment processes through its order and billing management functions.

Workflow: Built-in workflows provide omnichannel engagement through financial management tools, which are also accompanied by marketing support.

Source Management: Supplier management is one of the key benefits of NetSuite. Suppliers can work with the software in real-time through a centralized supply portal. Forecasting tools are also included to assist in ongoing business efforts.

Warehouse Management: This module works to improve the functionality and margins of your warehouse.

Customization and Visibility: NetSuite is customizable so that you can alter the software based on your business’ specific needs. There is a single-view mode where you can look at information about customers, orders, items and inventory.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Overview

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations includes features such as financial management, manufacturing management and supply chain management.

Its financial management tool is customizable and includes real-time financial analysis and forecasting technology. The manufacturing management system allows for the optimization of different product families, including pull to order and make to stock. The supply chain management system assists in the coordination of functions such as material sourcing and fulfillment.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations also easily connects to other products developed by Office 365. This includes applications such as Excel, while also supporting iOS, Android and Windows phones.

Benefits

Role-based Workspaces: Access to various workspaces can be customized based on the role and/or the user group of individuals with software access. For example, a warehouse manager may be granted access to the production floor management function, but not to the ledger budgets and forecasts.

Built-in Dashboards and Overviews: Various filterable dashboards are available to assist with financials, manufacturing and supply chain.

Integrated Power BI Capabilities: Visual analysis of data can be extremely helpful when running a business. Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations provides elements such as pie charts and bar graphs to graphically represent collected data.

Template-based Emails: Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations makes sending templated emails to clients and suppliers easier. With this tool, you might as well kiss accidental typos and miskeyed email addresses goodbye.

Manufacturing Management: The software allows for real-time monitoring of staff attendance, resources and available production jobs. Additionally, the user interface (UI) works well with touch devices such as iPads, which makes it easy for staff to record data as they go about the day.

Inbound Supply Chain Management: Dynamics 365’s Warehousing App for Android or Windows devices assists in the management of purchase orders and deliveries.

Outbound Supply Chain Management: The Warehousing App can also help determine where items should be picked from, assists with dock scheduling and discovers the best staging location among other features.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Syspro ERP

Syspro ERP Cloud Distribution Software

Overview

Syspro specializes in software for manufacturing and distribution. Customers can choose which attributes they would like to have included in the system based on their specific needs. This software is especially helpful for processing large volumes of orders and optimizing inventory and customer service. It is available both on-site and as a cloud distribution software.

Key features include paperless invoicing, 24/7 order placement/acknowledgement and secure electronic data exchange. You should note that CRM functionality is not included in this distribution package, but integration is available.

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Benefits

Order Management: Syspro’s sales order functions help form a complete picture of operations and ensures timely order processing. The goal of the system is to create collaboration among customers and suppliers.

Traceability: The Lot Traceability and Serial Tracking function allows for awareness of product location as it moves from its point of origin to a final destination.

Sales Analysis and Optimal Pricing: This function looks at product sales trends and customer types to optimize the profitability of various products.

Lean Inventory Management: Syspro’s Inventory Optimization system monitors KPIs automatically to generate a balance between inventory investment and services. It also minimizes forecasting errors, which therefore increases profits and boosts modeling efforts.

Cost tracking: The software’s Material Requirement Planning feature helps users track and identify the cost associated with various items.

Product Information: Managing large inventories is made a lot simpler with Syspro. The software shows a real-time scenario of inventory across singular or multiple warehouse spaces and assists in the execution of warehouse replenishment and order fulfillment.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Acumatica

Acumatica Cloud Distribution Software

Overview

Acumatica is a cloud distribution software that provides a wide variety of management applications, including financials, distribution, manufacturing, project accounting, field service, commerce, construction and CRM. Its distribution management service and its financial management service work together to form a cohesive distribution software. Acumatica is generally used by small and mid-size companies.

Benefits

Requisition Management: Acumatica simplifies complex distribution processes that involve multiple products and/or suppliers. This tool includes the ability to manage purchases, fulfill orders and obtain bids.

Advanced Inventory Management: This feature provides a real-time view of inventory across multiple warehouses, lots, bin locations, etc.

Purchase Order Management: Acumatica’s automated procurement system assists in submitting, building and managing purchase orders.

Sales Order Management: The sales order management system centralizes sales activities and provides real-time data in order to improve customer service.

Financial Management: Acumatica’s financial management software is fully integrated with other product suites and contains accounting services.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Cloud Distribution Software

Overview

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne offers financial management, project management, asset lifecycle management, order management, CRM, manufacturing, supply chain logistics and business intelligence services. It is made with small and medium-sized businesses in mind and can be installed easily. Customers do not need to write code to implement their specific solution.

This distribution tool also helpfully shows the status of a product/material as it moves from procurement to manufacturing to distribution.

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Benefits

Supply Chain Planning: JD Edwards EnterpriseOne contains tools for demand management, order promising and value chain planning. It uses integration with its Supply Chain Planning program to provide these services.

Order management: This attribute provides stream-lined order processing and tracking throughout an order’s life cycle.

Architecture: The software contains built-in modules for the easy inclusion of reporting tools and other third-party applications.

Adaptability: JD Edwards EnterpriseOne provides data visualization tools that make the consumption of valuable insights easier.

Interoperability: Products such as hardware, databases and software that are already used by your business can be easily integrated with the new software.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Cloud Distribution Software vs. On-Site Installation

Now that you are aware of some of the best cloud based distribution software options, let’s examine the pros and cons of different installation methods.

Pros of cloud distribution software:

  • Easy to access
  • Lower installation cost
  • Easy software updates

Cons of cloud distribution software:

  • Unable to access software when offline
  • Online customer service vs. on-site installation assistance can be less efficient
  • Less control over security than software installed on-site

Pros of on-site:

  • Software is available even when you do not have internet connection
  • In-person tutorial from software installation team
  • Especially beneficial for high-security data

Cons of on-site:

  • Higher installation cost
  • May be more difficult to obtain software updates
  • Onboarding new users is more difficult

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Final Thoughts

As you have seen in this article, there are many effective cloud distribution software options available. Now, it’s time to stop human error before it hits your fingertips. Evaluate the wide variety of software available to you while keeping in mind your own unique software needs. Our distribution software template will help you find your “needle in a haystack” out of the hundreds of distribution software options available. Your perfect software match is out there, and we can help you find it.

Which cloud-based distribution software is your favorite? Sound off in the comments below!

Lindsey JenkinsThe Best Cloud Distribution Software in 2019

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