A View from the Top

November 24, 2004 by SAP News

In the beverage industry today, distributors are being caught between expanding costs and shrinking margins. New costs for surcharges and increased insurance are being added to traditional costs for fuel, health care and promotions – forcing distributors to give up even more from their already thin profit margins. It’s a challenge to compete every day while trying to manage these uncontrollable market forces.
Distributors need to find new ways to drive costs from their operations, while increasing sales and margins. But that requires having immediate insight into operational information – inventory status, product codes, key account sales and more. The problem is, the non-integrated solutions available to beverage distributors today are simply unable to deliver this type of comprehensive information in real time.

The only fully integrated solution for beverage distributors

In response, Summit Enterprise Solutions (SES) now offers the first fully integrated, single-source solutions for beer, wines/spirits distributors and soft drink bottlers/distributors – the SES Operating System 4 Beverage (OS4B) solution.
As a prepackaged mySAP All-in-One solution, the SES suite is based on best practices for the beverage industry and comes pre-configured to support virtually every business process in the distributor’s world – streamlining and integrating key functions for direct-store delivery and throughout the entire distributorship. Real-time access to all transaction data, combined with on-demand reporting, gives customers a complete, top-down view of the business for fast, informed decision-making and bottom-line results.
Further, SES delivers the OS4B suite for a fixed price and timeline in as little as 12 weeks. Fully integrated from the start, there’s no need for custom programming or add-on software that increases costs and delays ROI. This meets another critical need on the SMB market, where time and cost are always an issue.
“Today’s growing companies can’t afford lengthy installations or delayed return on investment,” says Charlie Redfern, Vice President of Business Development at SES. “Our industry expertise, combined with the world-leading SAP platform, provides the only integrated, single-source solution that beverage distributors can quickly take advantage of to address their most pressing needs. In fact, our price point allows customers to receive full payback in 24 months or less.”

Integrated for business insight

Distributors now have support for all the business processes needed to run their business efficiently. This includes financials (AR, AP, GL, Fixed Asset), budgeting, product forecasting, inventory control, warehouse management, route accounting, house orders, tel-sell activities, reconciliation and a reporting environment that’s unrivaled in the industry. All of these mission-critical functions exist in a single application.
SES mySAP All-in-One solutions support all operations during the sales call process, including pre-sell (orders pre-sold by sales people), driver-sell (products sold directly off the truck), and driver delivery. Running on a Java-based mobile handheld unit, the solution gives sales and delivery representatives in the field visibility into pertinent route information, such as truck and warehouse inventories, account sales, specific account objectives and financial history, as well as orders, returns and settlement information contained in the SES OS4B database.
When visiting an account, sales people can track in-store inventory, take orders on-the-spot and gather feedback for suppliers, such as pricing activities, which retailers need more signs, or which displays are successful at bolstering marketing efforts. Drivers selling goods off the truck can enter orders and print invoices immediately. All data gathered over the daily route is maintained in the mobile device and can be telecommunicated (t-commed) and synchronized into the OS4B database via wireless, phone line, the Internet or local area network connections.
“Whenever there’s someone in the field working, whether it’s selling or delivering products, building displays or picking up returns, the SES-driven handheld captures those activities in real time,” says Redfern. “Automatically integrated into our OS4B solution, the information is immediately available to management (after t-comm) for reporting and analysis. No other solution for beverage distributors provides these real-time reporting capabilities.”

Decreasing costs, increasing profits

Leveraging its broad range of experience in both the IT and beverage distribution industries, SES works with customers to determine the best ways to decrease operational costs and increase profit margins.

Redfern says that tracking beverage code dates (expiration dates) with the OS4B solution provides distributors with a great cost-reducing opportunity. The solution keeps a record of what’s been sold, to which retailer and when it expires. “This enables distributors to make the best use of inventory,” explains Redfern. “For example, if records show a case of beer is due to expire at one retailer, the distributor can relocate it to a ‘fast-moving account’ that’s known to turn that brand of beer quickly. There’s no waste and everybody still makes money.”
Better management of the return process can also cut costs. Returns are usually brought back to the distributor’s warehouse, where they wait for someone to determine if they need to be scrapped or repackaged. The product often expires during the wait, missing a chance to redeem revenue. Since return information is entered into the SES-driven handheld on site, warehouse workers know immediately which returns should be quickly repacked and returned to store shelves for sale.
Automatic tracking of returns and code dates can also save tax dollars: There’s no need to pay excise tax on expired or damaged goods that have been disposed. “The OS4B solution automatically tracks that information, so distributors know exactly how much tax they need to pay at the end of the month,” Redfern says. “One customer forecasts that the OS4B solution will save them $30,000 a year in excise taxes.”

Why SAP?

Redfern considers SAP’s development “muscle” and large support organization as one of the biggest advantages of working with SAP. “As one of the largest software companies in the world, SAP brings a lot of development expertise to the table,” he says. “They’re progressive – they’re already working on the issues that our potential customers are going to face in a couple of years, such as radio frequency identification (RFID). It’s coming and we know it, and we know too that the SAP software can handle it.”
SAP’s support, resources and breadth of industry experience make the SES solution a powerful best-in-class software tool from the outset. “Our association with an industry leader like SAP lets our customers know that they can count on us over the long term,” Redfern continues. “Together, SES and SAP offer the only fully integrated, completely Windows-based solution for beverage distributors. And it’s all in an affordable, evolutionary package designed to bring the beverage industry into the future.”
For more about Summit Enterprise Solutions, visit http://www.e-ses.com. Watch a video about Summit solutions at http://www.e-ses.com/ses.html.
For more about mySAP All-in-One solutions, link to www.sap.com/solutions/smb/allinone/index.aspx.

Susan Twombly

Susan Twombly

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