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4 Critical ERP Considerations For Importers
Businesses are increasingly relying on non-domestic production of product. Both U.S. and foreign-owned companies are purchasing their product from other countries then selling and distributing locally, regionally, or nationally.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for companies that import product should have comprehensive features which facilitate the importing process. These include multiple warehousing, comprehensive product tracking from factory to available-to-sell, multiple currency processing, and a flexible bar code system.
When making an ERP decision, don’t neglect asking the tough questions of your potential software supplier. Often these complex issues are glossed over at the time of software evaluation.
Multi-Warehouse Capabilities: You may have an overseas warehouse, a consignment warehouse, a warehouse for when product hits the water and another when it lands at the dock. This is further complicated when the factory has partial purchase order shipments combined into a single container shipment. When the product needs to be received into the ERP system, many ERP systems do not receive by container – they receive by purchase order. The solution – container receiving – is becoming much more common.
Extended Product Tracking: It’s crucial that the inventory levels are tracked and managed from the factory to the water to the dock to your U.S warehouse. If not, sales and customer service won’t be able to accurately inform end users (the buyers) when product is arriving or available.
Customer service and sales are critical factors in the supply-chain management of a business that imports its product. Many times, the order entry team is relying on the Quantity On Hand and Quantity Available numbers when communicating to customers. A comprehensive solution will have a Customer To Promise (CTP) date based on the expected receipt of the product. This could mean arrival at the dock or at the inventory warehouse. Customer service and sales need to be able to trust the inventory counts to be accurate. Their success is dependent on honest and accurate communication to the customers.
Sometimes a domestic company will want to see what is on the factory floor. Integrating factory activity with the domestic branch’s warehouse can be a huge challenge unless each company is on the same system. Many clients end up writing their own custom extranet program to allow such visibility. Another alternative is to allow remote logins to each system. Finally, programming routines can be written to allow data export and import functionality.
Multi-Currency Capabilities: Some companies can simply demand that the sale always take place in U.S. dollars. However, for most, it is important to have an ERP system with strong multi-currency functionality. Further, exchange rates can be tricky to maintain and extra user training is needed to ensure that users understand common terms (base currency, home currency, etc.), and how to process both international receivables and payables transactions.
Bar Coding Capabilities: Importers should have a strong bar coding system that integrates with their ERP software. The bar code solution should allow for product receiving, shipping, physical counts, transfers, and issues. The bar code solution should also be able to read an alternate bar code (e.g. manufacturer’s number), and convert the symbols into the client’s inventory SKU.
These and many other factors should all be considered during your ERP software evaluation. You’ll sleep better knowing that you’ve made an informed decision that fully considered your needs as they relate to importing product.
If you need help with selecting an ERP system, email me at solutions@ACIconsulting.com or visit us at http://www.ACIconsulting.com and I’ll put our team to work on it.
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