I was involved in a recent discussion with a wholesale distributor which can be a very common scenario. A member of the distributor’s management team described that while they stock a portion of their various supplier’s product lines, they can sell virtually any of the products those suppliers offer in their product catalogues. The distributor’s sales process generally starts via quotes. Some of the items being quoted may be stocked by the distributor, others may not.
In situations where supplier catalogues are not stored electronically within the distributor’s wholesale distribution system, customer service personnel will spend a lot of non-productive time looking through supplier catalogues – either paper-based (which may have outdated data) or on a supplier’s Web site – or interacting with supplier personnel to find the desired items for their potential customers.
Furthermore, many wholesale distributors allow their sales or customer service personnel to place purchase orders directly with suppliers to fulfill the non-stock items on sales orders. This process can result in numerous issues. Sales and customer service personnel may buy the wrong quantity of items at a higher price than necessary because the distributor’s overall purchasing power with the given supplier may not have been accounted for in the given transaction.
A strong wholesale distribution system will provide sales and customer service personnel with electronic access to their suppliers’ most up-to-date catalogues online. By enabling business rules about minimum profit margins for given product lines or customer groups, sales and customer service personnel can easily quote both stock and non-stock items in alignment with the management team’s targeted metrics. When non-stock items are quoted, purchasing personnel can be notified electronically as to the existence of the given quote line items.
When the distributor’s customer elects to purchase the products on the quote, the sales and customer service personnel can convert that quote to a sales order, either in part or in whole based on those items desired, and have the system manage the committing of inventory for those items which are stocked by the distributor simultaneously with generating the purchase requisitions for the non-stock items. These purchase requisitions can then be reviewed by the distributor’s purchasing personnel – those people the company has entrusted to work with its suppliers – to turn the purchase requisitions into purchase orders within the wholesale distribution system, and then transmit those purchase orders to the associated suppliers via the supplier’s preferred method of interaction – either printed paper, facsimile, email, or EDI.
By leveraging the capabilities of strong wholesale distribution systems, such as TGI’s Enterprise 21, wholesale distributors can enable their customer service personnel to work with their customers and their purchasing personnel to source products from their suppliers.