Like many wholesale distributors, Select Wines of Chantilly, Va., ran its business on an ERP system built before the internet, a proprietary business system that its founder put in place back in 1987, the year the company was established. Designed in 1981 for the beverage distribution industry, the custom-built “E11” system had been tweaked and updated by its original developer numerous times over the years.
Select Wines is a distributor of craft beer and fine wines to grocery stores, restaurants and specialty stores in Northern Virginia and knew it was time for a change when the aging, on-premises system would freeze up and need daily restarts. The company started looking for a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that would not only replace it, but also offer more functionality.
After talking to a distributor of similar size that implemented NetSuite, Select Wines evaluated the cloud ERP system for itself. NetSuite’s out-of-the-box functionality, which would require fewer customizations, promised an implementation that would be quick and painless and the features the company needed.
Select Wines ultimately decided to work with NetSuite Alliance Partner SmartERP to implement the system. Beyond the daily restarts, Nathan Roberts, Select Wines vice president and general manager, said there were four clear signs it was time to make the move — signs that many businesses would do well to watch out for:
- Too much manual data entry. With its previous system, Select Wines’ staff had to input all the inventory data at the end of each day. Inventory accuracy was spotty at best, and a big problem for salespeople working out in the field. They didn’t always know what stock was on hand and available.
- A sales team that was out of the loop. “We would always say, if you see that there are X number cases of something on hand, just consider that it’s not there,” said Roberts, who resorted to carrying around a yellow legal pad with important information on it, knowing that the system could crash at any moment. “This was awful for salespeople who would finally get a foot in the customer’s door, only to have to tell them there was no product to sell. It created a pretty negative first impression.”
- Excessive financial reconciliation steps. Select Wines also needed a better account reconciliation process, which required finance staff to download to a text file, transfer information into another application, and then do more reformatting before moving the file to yet another system for reconciliation. “By the time we got through all of those steps,” Roberts said, “we were already two days behind on receiving payment.”
- Too many pen-and-paper processes. Getting detailed reporting is impossible when supervisors and employees run around with clipboards, paper and pencils. For Select Wines, the ability to run real-time inventory reports, and to have solid data to share with its sales reps out in the field has been a major benefit. “NetSuite gives the reps a lot more firepower,” Roberts said. “The more they get acclimated to the system, the more we're seeing new accounts opening and reps finding products they never even knew we had. Everything is right there at their fingertips.”
WIth NetSuite, Select Wines has eliminated manual inventory counts, simplified reconciliations across multiple sources, ditched the pen and paper, and benefited from more accurate and timely reporting. The company continues to work with Smart ERP to learn more about the system’s functionalities and to maximize more of its capabilities.