How Digitalization Can
Help Your Distribution
How Digitalization Gets Distributors Set for Growth ................... 4
Understanding the Role of Digitalization in Business Growth ...... 6
Where to Invest for Growth ............................................................... 8
Turn Insight Into Action ..................................................................... 10
Get Set for Growth With Epicor ERP Solutions ............................ 12
How These Grow Getters Made Digitalization Work ................... 14
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Contents2
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Executive Summary 3
Digitalization is essential to the longevity of your business. It presents significant
opportunities to address key operational issues, align products and services to
the demands of today’s market, and achieve growth.
However, growth looks different for every company, and with the vast array of digital technologies available, it can be hard to
know where to start. Which technologies offer the biggest opportunity for your company to grow? How can you successfully
embrace the digital revolution?
This eBook will help you:
Understand the technological
challenges facing your business
Assess the capabilities needed to
support your digitalization journey
Highlight some best practices
to implement your
Exploit growth opportunities
with speed and conviction
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Get Set for Growth4
Set for Growth
Digitalization is disrupting the distribution sector as large distributors
move to take advantage of emerging technologies including advanced
analytics, cloud and mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial
intelligence (AI). To compete effectively, every distributor must embrace
digital technologies to improve operational efficiency, better understand
their customers, and differentiate their offerings.
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Get Set for Growth 5
The digital reality
Digitalization is becoming increasingly important in the distribution industry.
It enables companies to address two key concerns—competitors and customers.
Distributors face the threat of increased competition from adjacent sectors.
Retailers are looking for ever-lower prices. Manufacturers are looking for faster
delivery to satisfy customers. This means distributors are being squeezed or
sidelined altogether as manufacturers and retailers transact directly—a dynamic
enabled by digital technology. If distributors don’t embrace new technologies
and ways of working, they will become irrelevant or invisible to buyers, and won’t
be able to grow. Before the digital era, location was a crucial success factor for
distributors. Now, they must offer digital convenience.
The digital revolution in the consumer world has created much higher expectations
among business customers. They don’t want to search through a catalogue and pick
up the phone to place an order. They want the same simplicity and 24/7 convenience
they enjoy every day, such as ordering in a few clicks. The greatest opportunity
digitalization affords is the connection from business to buyer. It’s not just one thing–
it’s a set of technologies that make it easier to do business with you, like finding you
and searching your products online, enabling your salesforce to take customer orders
on a tablet, and offering convenient payment methods.1
A journey, not a destination
Digitalization does not exist in its own discrete context. It is not an
end destination or state of being, but a combination of applied digital
technologies and processes that accelerate your business toward its
strategic objectives. It also doesn’t happen overnight, and it looks different
for each distributor. Digitalization gives you the opportunity to better
understand your business, your competitors, and your market, and create
value for your customers in ways that your competitors can’t. In other
words, digital technology helps your business “get set for growth.”
“ Epicor gives us the tools, and then works
with us to make sure the tools all work well.”
—Kathy Johnson, Manager of Customer Satisfaction
Electro-Matic Products, Inc.
1 “Today’s Challenges Facing Wholesale Distributors,” Dale Allardyce, Allen Austin Consulting, 2016
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Get Growth6
1 Research conducted by MORAR Consulting, surveying 1,824 managing directors and heads of finance, operations, and IT in businesses with
100+ staff spanning the manufacturing, distribution, and service industries—and in businesses of all sizes in retail—in Australia, Canada,
China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Singapore, Sweden, the UK, and the U.S. (MORAR, Growth Survey, 2015).
High-growth companies invest time in strategic planning
For many distributors, the biggest barrier to digitalization is the fear of disruption to their
business. They worry that changes to long-established ways of working will mean upheaval
for staff and customers, which could pose a risk.
For those willing to embrace change, there is still a hurdle—how to begin. Many competing
technologies profess to drive digitalization—however, any given digital solution depends
almost exclusively on context. You need to understand where you are in your digitalization
journey and how specific technologies will add value to your business.
Against a backdrop of fierce competition and rapid evolution, this means identifying the
areas in which you can make the smallest change for the maximum return on investment
(ROI). This approach also lets you phase in changes at a speed that doesn’t disrupt your
workflow as you build the foundations for further growth.
The starting point in the journey toward growth is to understand your market and business
inside out. We refer to this as a company’s ability to “get growth.”
Recent research from MORAR Consultants found that
high-growth businesses are two times more likely to
invest time in strategic planning.1
Define your growth strategy
Where will growth come from for your business, and how is your business positioned to
grow? How will you measure success? Once your business goals are defined, you can start
to identify the digital tools that offer the greatest opportunity to achieve them and set
investment priorities. That starts with establishing what works, what requires immediate
attention, and where digitalization can add real value.
the Role of
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Get Growth 7
With larger players setting the benchmark for service expectations,
small- to medium-size distributors should give priority to digital technologies
that focus on improvements for customers, such as customized quotes
and integrated payments. Today’s customers expect a seamless experience
wherever they interact with your business. This requires connecting all
parts of your operation and extending visibility across your network of
suppliers as a priority.
Derive new operational efficiencies
For some distributors, digitalization will start with improving inventory
control and the accuracy, relevance, and immediacy of information within
their business—enabling them to make smarter decisions. Strengthening
inventory management capabilities is the foundation of a successful
eCommerce operation. This will mean replacing and automating back-
office systems that require a lot of manual input, plus introducing mobile
or wireless warehouse technology. Streamlined processes boost employee
productivity and reduce errors, giving employees more time to focus on
building customer relationships.
Differentiate the customer experience
Digitalization will ultimately involve satisfying customers who expect a
consumer experience in their B2B transactions. They demand a faster,
frictionless service tailored to their personal requirements. Digital
technology enables distributors to strengthen their role in the B2B2C
chain by leveraging customer data to identify and retain their most
profitable customers, and spot opportunities to provide a differentiated
service, such as assembly and kitting services.
Visibility and insight are key
Distributors have access to—and are producing—more data than ever before,
but very few possess the technology to truly understand and derive value from
that data. They need an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that offers
industry-specific analytics and delivers real-time, actionable insight, while investing
in transformative digital technologies that enable them to act on insight and deliver
growth opportunities for their business.
Better visibility into all areas of your business is essential to making smarter and faster
decisions, deriving new operational efficiencies, and transforming the customer
experience. Whatever digitalization looks like for your business, applying the right
tools can mean the difference between merely competing and thriving.
Developing your digitalization strategy
In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, holding onto old processes,
siloed systems, and yesterday’s way of thinking will make it increasingly
difficult for you to compete. Change is necessary to ensure your
products, services, and processes are relevant in the digital world.
Whether growth for your business means building your customer base,
establishing value-added services, refining your eCommerce operation,
or boosting customer relationship management (CRM), you need to
develop the structural capabilities to make that vision a reality. More
importantly, you need to collaborate across the company and along
your supply chain to effectively prepare your business to act upon your
growth strategy. We call this being “fit for growth.”
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Fit for Growth8
Where to Invest
Invest in the right technologies
Investing in new and innovative technologies is important, but the key is
investing in technology that adds strategic value for your business. High-growth
distributors are investing in inventory management, mobile, and eCommerce.
The biggest breakthrough they stand to make is in creating a new level of
connection to their customers. The starting point for achieving this is integrating
and connecting all aspects of their business—supplier relationship management
(SRM), financial management, distribution requirements planning (DRP),
assembly, and more—to achieve better visibility and agility.
Wholesalers and distributors were asked to name the top challenges
they faced for the coming year:1
Leading distributors plan on investing in:1
1 “ERP in Wholesale and Distribution: Improving Customer Interactions at a Lower Cost,” Nick Castellina, Aberdeen Group,
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Fit for Growth 9
2 “Top Performers Know it’s Time to Migrate to Cloud ERP: Here’s Why and How,” Nick Castellina, Aberdeen Group, 2016
3 MORAR, Growth Survey, 2015
Invest in the cloud and mobility
Interest in cloud-based ERP—the number one enabler of companywide
collaboration—has soared in recent years, growing from 23 percent to 59
percent between 2009 and 2016.2 Ideally, that extension to the cloud should
come without the need to learn anything new—a simple web-enabled, mobile
extension of existing desktop ERP software.
While traditional ERP systems offer the capability to manage complex orders
and inventory, cloud-based systems can enhance real-time visibility into
customer orders, supplier performance, and global distribution operations.
Moving on-premise systems to the cloud helps simplify and expedite
collaboration—capabilities that may be extended upstream to suppliers or
downstream to customers, enhancing the distributor’s view of the entire value
chain. In real terms, this means giving your employees access to the information
they need to do their jobs, any time, any place, from any device. With mobile
and cloud capability, your teams can be providing quotes on site without
having to return to the desktop.
Invest in analytics
To grow, you need end-to-end visibility across your business—and that comes
back to analytics.
High-growth distributors understand the business benefit of turning raw data
into actionable information. Analytics enable better decision-making, providing
insight into who your best customers are and what trends are emerging in
their purchasing behaviors. Strategic pricing can then process your invoice data
to determine the best price for each product and order. By focusing value-add
services around analytics-based forecasting and pricing strategy, distributors
can better compete with the manufacturers and retailers creeping into
On the horizon is the wireless warehouse. Combining analytics and IoT
technologies such as sensors, smart beacons, automation, and machine
learning, distributors are promised streamlined workflows and substantial
cost savings. By investing in analytics now, distributors will be well placed to
integrate IoT technology later.
High-growth businesses cited better
technology (57%) and more efficient
working practices (33%) as the two
most important considerations in
achieving business growth.3
Turn Insight Into Action
76% of high-growth
over business stability.1
95% of high-growth
achieving growth in the
companies are two
times more likely to
look outside their
business for growth
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Act for Growth10
1 MORAR, Growth Survey, 2015
Investing in technology alone isn’t
enough. To achieve your digitalization
ambitions, you need the people,
processes, and culture to empower
your business and foster change. You
need the ability to identify opportunities
both within and outside your business,
and you need an unwavering focus on
the customer. We call this having the
ability to “act for growth.”
Right people, right culture
To implement your digitalization strategy, you need individuals who
embrace change and are committed to delivering that vision. Leaders
and employees must play their part in creating a culture conducive
to change. A shift in habits is more likely to happen when new
technologies help employees become more effective in their roles,
such as allowing staff to enter quotes, check stock, search price, and
expedite orders from one screen.
You also need to be ready for the generational transformation, as older
employees retire from the workforce. Attracting the next generation
will be much easier if you’ve established a forward-looking culture,
underpinned by technologies they are familiar with—such as cloud-
based mobile solutions. Tomorrow’s talent pool aren’t looking to join an
environment of green screens and character-based systems. They expect
innovation, employee experience, and online, on-demand training.
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Act for Growth 11
Focus outside the business
Deriving new operational efficiencies and developing core
competencies are great places to start your path to digitalization.
However, true growth is only achieved when competency
meets market opportunity. High-growth distributors embrace
digitalization and focus outside the business. Integrated ERP
solutions, data, and predictive analytics provide the platform for
identifying new external growth opportunities—whether that
means working with new suppliers to extend your product range
and fulfill an emerging demand, diversifying into a new sector, or
entering a new geographic market.
Focus with insight
Data alone is insufficient. To achieve growth with digitalization,
you need actionable business insight and complete visibility into
your business operations. The ability to act for growth and take
advantage of market opportunities will depend on the accurate
application of business insight.
ERP solutions can give you the visibility and insight you need across
the value chain to ask the right questions and make fast, informed
decisions. Companies that achieve their vision for digitalization will
be those making faster, smarter business decisions and applying
digital technologies with strategic intent.
Focus on the customer
Distributors can set themselves apart from the competition by offering an
exceptional customer experience. With modern ERP solutions, you can predict
when and where products are needed, so you can put your inventory in
the right place to meet customer demands, faster. Integrated ERP systems,
inventory management, analytics, and IoT technologies hold the key to
complete value-chain visibility. GPS and RFID technologies will provide real-time
tracking, while IoT sensors and bots preempt and resolve shipment issues to
assure customer satisfaction.
Cloud connectivity provides instant access to
sales data, online showrooms, and availability.
Orders can be processed faster, with less
paperwork—meaning your customer’s account
is always up-to-date, and quotes, sales, and
reports can be made on the move.
80% of high-growth businesses cite
changes in customer demands as having
a critical impact on their ability to achieve
growth in the next 12 months.1
Get Set for Growth With
Epicor ERP Solutions
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Epicor Solutions12
Once you have a clear strategy, understand your path for
achieving growth, and have the people and technologies
in place to support digitalization, what’s next?
Epicor has the industry-specific experience, expertise, and a total business
management system to make your vision a reality. Whatever the shape of your
business—wherever you are on your digitalization journey—the Epicor ERP
can take you forward with confidence, at a cost point you can afford.
We help you define your digital strategy
Our consultants leverage more than 40 years of Epicor experience, industry
expertise, and knowledge from partnering with distributors to foster growth.
Once you establish your company’s needs and priorities, we can help you
define a clear strategy and a practical roadmap for digitalization—with
ongoing education, training, and support to implement that strategy.
We give you real-time visibility
Epicor offers a unified ERP suite that provides real-time, integrated data, analytics,
reporting, and personalized dashboards—enabling you to make faster, smarter
business decisions. With better visibility, global connectivity, and an open API,
Epicor ERP enables you to combine actionable insight with the latest technologies
to release the true power of your data.
We’re leaders in cloud collaboration
Our cloud capabilities give you the same rich functionality as when you deploy
on premises. If you’re already migrating to cloud, we’ll join you on the journey.
Alternatively, choose an on-premises model now, and be confident that you’ll lose
nothing by moving to cloud later. With a single, unified solution and a range of
function-specific add-ons, you can integrate new technologies such as mobile,
social, and IoT as you transform your business.
We get you mobile
Epicor ERP introduces anytime, anywhere connectivity—supplying a powerful
analytics, productivity, and inventory management tool without being tethered
to a desktop. Your employees can view, edit, or create orders and quotes while in
the field, and quickly understand the current state of their customer’s account.
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Epicor Solutions 13
We’re ready for the future
Epicor ERP is designed to scale with your business. We understand
that digitalization looks different for every business, so we give
you the platform you need to accelerate growth and let you add
extra services or features later. As your needs evolve, so can your
Whether growth for your business means gaining new
operational efficiencies or transforming the customer experience,
Epicor helps you turn digitalization into a set of achievable,
growth-focused goals—improving productivity, creating more
profitable customer relationships, and eliminating unnecessary
Grow sales by using Epicor Commerce Connect to provide your
customers a fully integrated cloud and mobile experience
Increase your gross margins—use Epicor Strategic Pricing to review your
database for customer and order information and recommend optimal
Improve inventory management for single and complex multilocation
businesses with wireless warehousing
Drive efficiency and productivity with distribution-focused functionality
like work queues, wire cutting, reconciliation management, kitting,
production orders, job management, and vendor-managed inventory
Increase sales with Customer Buying Trend Analysis to know which
customer/item combinations have had a measurable sales trend up or
down over a certain number of days
Improve inventory turns and fill rates through advanced forecasting
Receive insights from your data with our powerful business intelligence
tool, Epicor Data Analytics (EDA)
Improve supply-chain efficiency with Prophet 21® software—manage
inventory at your customer’s location to increase loyalty, handle
multilevel bills of materials, and centralize purchasing with multibranch
Get full control of your inventory with the Epicor® Eclipse™ solution—
with Mobile Showroom, you can even walk your customer through your
product and build out orders on a tablet
Your benefits at a glance
How These Grow
The companies forging ahead are those with
a strong vision of where digitalization needs
to take them. They invest in the right systems
and technologies, rethink ways of working,
and build a culture conducive to growth—all
with the customer in mind.
These distributors are the Grow GettersTM—individuals who
understand why digitalization is essential for their business to
grow and have the vision and drive to see it through.
Grow Getters share a set of core characteristics and values.
They believe in strategic planning, embrace change, and have
an unswerving focus on the customer. They have the complete
picture of the internal, external, and technological factors that
affect their business. They have a clear growth strategy, and
they’re taking action.
14 Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Meet the Grow Getters
How These Grow
1 MORAR, Growth Survey, 2015
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Meet the Grow Getters 15
Grow Getters invest time in strategic planning1
By investing in the development of a clear digitalization
strategy and ERP partner that understands their industry,
these distributors are forging ahead with business growth.
“With the Epicor Prophet 21 solution, we can move our
company forward. We were limited by our technology before;
now it’s limitless—there are so many creative ways we can use
the system to promote our growth. We can dig in and take costs
out of the system, and take our business to the next level.”
—Tammy Brooks, Systems Administrator
Gericare Medical Supply, Inc.
Grow Getters invest where it counts1
Epicor allows distributors to introduce incremental
change, giving priority to those areas of the business
that afford the quickest ROI.
“Prophet 21 was the most practical of all the systems we
reviewed. It certainly was the most impressive program available
in the marketplace from our perspective. We especially liked the
ability to drill down to different data layers and access real-time
inventory information. Subsequently, we’ve automated many of
our business practices, enabling us to service customers more
quickly and efficiently than any time in the past.”
—Scott Mahaffey, President | Cohn and Gregory
Grow Getters believe in their capabilities1
Whatever your ambitions for the future direction of your business,
trust Epicor distribution software to support you all the way.
“Because Epicor is developing the technology solutions that we will need 5–10
years from now, this frees us up to do what we do best. With Epicor, we know
we have a partner that will support our growth and profitability, and allow us to
stay ahead of the competition. I feel totally comfortable that we’re in the right
place, and will have a relationship for many years to come.”
—Vicki Hafele, Chief Financial Officer | Duncan-Parnell Inc.
Grow Getters turn information into insight, and insight into action1
Epicor customers were able to react quickly to changes in
the business landscape, with the agility and visibility to
implement effective solutions.
“With Eclipse, we have the capacity to rapidly
accommodate customer needs by completing orders
placed anytime of the day or night. On one occasion,
we received an urgent request at 5:00 p.m. Eclipse
enabled us to search the databases of every branch,
find the product, do the logistics, and have the item
at the jobsite by 9:00 a.m. the following day.
We could not have done this without Eclipse.”
—Scott Miller, President | Munch’s Supply
The contents of this document are for informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Epicor Software Corporation makes no guarantee, representations, or warranties with regard to the enclosed information and specifically disclaims, to the full extent of the
law, any applicable implied warranties, such as fitness for a particular purpose, merchantability, satisfactory quality, or reasonable skill and care. The results represented in this testimonial may be unique to the particular customer, as each user’s experience will vary. This document and
its contents, including the viewpoints, dates, and functional content expressed herein are believed to be accurate as of its date of publication, September 2017. The usage of any Epicor software shall be pursuant to the applicable end user license agreement, and the performance
of any consulting services by Epicor personnel shall be pursuant to applicable standard services terms and conditions. Usage of the solution(s) described in this document with other Epicor software or third-party products may require the purchase of licenses for such other products.
Epicor, the Epicor logo, and Grow Getters are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epicor Software Corporation in the United States, certain other countries, and/or the EU. Copyright © 2017 Epicor Software Corporation. All rights reserved.
Epicor | Building a Better Tomorrow With ERP | Get Started16
Epicor Software Corporation drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific
software that is designed around the needs of our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and
service industry customers. More than 40 years of experience with our customers’ unique
business processes and operational requirements is built into every solution—in the cloud,
hosted, or on premises. With a deep understanding of your industry, Epicor solutions spur
growth while managing complexity. The result is powerful solutions that free your
resources so you can grow your business.
We’re here to support you each step of the way—helping to define your transformation
roadmap, ensuring a successful ERP implementation, and partnering with you to make
sure you derive value and growth from our technology. It starts with a conversation.
For more information, connect with Epicor or visit www.epicor.com.
Get Your Business Set for Growth
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