Buying in Bulk with SAP

March 22, 2011 by Christiane Stagge

Fresh goods and optimal transport routes are just two of the advantages the SAP for Wholesale Distribution portfolio offers (photo: Fotolia)

Fresh goods and optimal transport routes with SAP for Wholesale Distribution (photo: Fotolia)

Procure, store, deliver – wholesalers buy products from manufacturers and sell them on to retailers in order to turn a profit. In doing so, their business activities focus on supplier relationships, supply chain management, and warehousing.

However, customer relationship management, accounting, and logistics aren’t the only processes involved in the wholesale industry. Technologies such as RFID, which involves labeling goods with radio-transmitting tags, also have a part to play.

The SAP for Wholesale Distribution solution portfolio covers various business workflows, either by including them as preconfigured scenarios – in SAP ERP, for example – or as best practices for wholesale in SAP Business All-in-One.

Here are some of the software packages and applications SAP offers for the wholesale industry:

  • SAP Demand and Supply Planning for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Extended Manufacturing for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Extended Procurement for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Extended Sourcing for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Extended Warehouse Management for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Forecasting and Replenishment for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Marketing for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Sales for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Supplier Relationship Management for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Supply Network Collaboration for Retail and Wholesale Distribution
  • SAP Transportation Operations for Retail and Wholesale Distribution

These products are specifically designed for the food and beverage industry, industrial manufacturing, and the production of medical and other healthcare items.

With the SAP NetWeaver technology platform at their foundation, the solutions enable admins to connect their own applications, integrate additional IT systems, and manage their master data.

Next page: From supply chains to warehouses – key functions for wholesale

From supply chains to warehouses – key functions for wholesale

The SAP for Wholesale Distribution solution portfolio helps wholesalers plan and procure, manage their supply chains, carry out processes in sales, and generally oversee their organizations while offering an array of additional functions.

The areas of strategic planning and procurement comprise activities such as demand and transport planning, supplier management, purchasing, and chargeback management. Here, SAP’s software aids users in selecting suppliers for particular products, forming distribution and transport networks, managing transport capacity, governing and evaluating supply chains, and even simulating changes along them.

Along supply chains, in- and outbound logistics are a factor, as are warehouse and inventory administration, transport management, and tracking and tracing. Contract management and load building represent further areas of supplier management.

Inventory management, discounts, and more

With SAP for Wholesale Distribution, users can implement dual-entry inventory management in different units of measure. The supplier-managed inventory function shows the user when stocks will need to be replenished, and also handles chargeback processes, price agreements, and periodical discounts.

Meanwhile, the supply chain execution feature helps manage in- and outbound logistics, warehouse and inventory management, compliance with foreign trade requirements, and customs processing.

The solution portfolio’s order-to-cash management function handles all the processes involved in sales, including order processing, customer relationship management, invoicing, collections management, and the management of customer agreements. For companies that run online stores or carry out sales processes through call centers, SAP’s software also has the corresponding procedures covered.

In general company management, SAP for Wholesale Distribution offers functions for analysis, travel expense accounting, and quality management, as well as preconfigured reports.

Next page: In-memory technology, BI, and sustainability – the latest additions to SAP for Wholesale Distribution

From BI to Web 2.0 – the latest additions to SAP for Wholesale Distribution

Evaluate employees, register them for training courses, manage their goals – human resource departments can look forward to a number of coming functions in talent management.

The SAP BusinessObjects GRC solutions, meanwhile, feature components that help finance departments ensure their compliance with laws and other regulations.

Further elements of the SAP for Wholesale Distribution portfolio promise to make the process of searching for materials and through catalogs faster and more flexible, which presents particular advantages in seasonal procurement. In one-step buying scenarios, users will be able to search for suppliers’ products and feed them into their ERP system’s central catalog. The software will also immediately reveal changes along the supply chain, enabling employees to respond to them just as quickly. Meanwhile, a related function will offer automated route planning.

Improvements in after-sales service are also on the way, which will affect the management of complaints and returns. Employees will be able to import the corresponding changes directly from SAP for Wholesale Distribution solutions into SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM). Assigning various service levels to repairs will also be possible.

Wholesale is another industry in which in-memory technology is making real-time analysis possible by storing data in RAM instead of in databases. In SAP for Wholesale Distribution, this achievement exhibits particular promise in order processes: Call-center employees, for example, can present offers in real time and adjust them to changing parameters whenever necessary.

More customers with Facebook and Twitter

Web 2.0 applications present special benefits in customer relationship management. Through Twitter, Facebook, and similar media, employees in marketing can find out what customers think of certain products and where problems lie. Twitter has already proven to be a practical support channel for many companies: Even with just 140 characters at their disposal, support engineers can immediately respond to issues and sometimes publish solutions online in a matter of seconds.

In addition, companies can create their own Facebook fan pages as a means of retaining customers and attracting other interested people.

These and further Web 2.0 features coming to the SAP for Wholesale Distribution solution portfolio will enable users to work with channels like Twitter and Facebook right from within the software’s interfaces.

Environmental protection is also much more than an afterthought in SAP’s solutions for the wholesale industry. For instance, the latest versions enable users to measure how sustainable their supply chains are and determine where it would make good business sense to shift the transport of their goods from roads to rails.

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