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Best ERP for SMB CPG company who is mainly B2C eComm?

I need some good advice from those who are happy or unhappy with their ERP, and preferably who have experience with different ERPs. We are looking for a cloud-based solution, with about 30 users (maybe not all concurrent, but let’s just plan on 30 concurrent for now). We currently do not run an ERP, so it would be all new to the team and we can adjust to new systems pretty easily. Our ERP needs to be able to scale with the company going from $20 mil to $100 mil in revenue within a few years. We have a few hundred SKUs. We currently use Quickbooks for our financials, but it is not tied in with anything. We have a home-grown lead-management system used by Sales. The CSR team uses several non-connected tools to manage customer relations. Vendor POs are done on spreadsheets and tracked manually. Replenishment is also manual. Inventory is not very accurate. We are a uni-channel company selling B2C online. We have no A/R to speak of since orders are paid via credit card online. We have two offices in the Bay Area with about 70 total employees and our inventory will be at a 3PL in the mid-west. We have a very tech-savvy IT leader with some talented software engineers mainly working on the eCommerce end but ready to help with an ERP integration. We will start with a core package of accounting, inventory, PO & SO (mainly SO/invoice history). However, we want to explore other potential future add-ons such as HR, payroll, CRM, demand-planning, etc., as these may play a role in our decision making but are not needed for initial implementation. I would love to get your advice, comments and recommendations. (sorry for all the initialisms)

Answers

Joseph A Brown
Title: President
Company: Adoga International LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(President, Adoga International LLC) |

I forgot to mention we are currently considering Netsuite, Intacct, Epicor, possibly Sage and MS Dynamics, and recently had CentralBOS and Odoo come on our radar.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Joseph,

I am sure a lot of advice will start with a needs analysis. I would start with your dream system/s and imagine what your information system structure will look like. I would ask your different departments to write up what their wants and needs (capabilities/features) currently and in the next 3-5 years.

Once that is hammered out, you can evaluate the different ERP packages as far as how they can answer your requirements relative to pricing. Each package has it's pros and cons (and each individual has their biases in as far as favorites are concerned) but the ultimate test is being able to answer a majority (if not all) of your requirements at a price you can live with. You can narrow the choices down (based on the evaluation) to 2-3 and then you can ask for feedback from actual same industry users (and also from here), which the software companies should be able to refer you to.

I am from the Bay Area and if you need further help, please do not hesitate to reach out.

P.S. I would not base my requirements on the revenue dollar figure but on the number and types of transactions.

Joseph A Brown
Title: President
Company: Adoga International LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(President, Adoga International LLC) |

Emerson, great points. We are turning about 7,000 orders per month with about 200 active SKUs, but growing rapidly. We are less than 2 years old with most of our employees fairly young as far as being in business and can adapt to almost anything. I guess what I am really looking for are experiences with specifics from people to stay away from this package or definitely love that package because of xx. We have done a preliminary needs analysis and I am in contact with the main ERP players already. I am looking for others' real world experiences now. Let's grab lunch or something next time I am in the bay area. I would love to pick your brain.

Howard Friedensohn
Title: President, COO/CFO
Company: CFOutsource
(President, COO/CFO, CFOutsource) |

I have had a great experience with Netsuite. It is flexible enough, cloud-based, and you can pick and choose the modules you need. You can implement in phases.

I've had another experience with Blue Cherry + MS Dynamics SL, which was more expensive, difficult to implement, a lot more robust, but requiring building of all reports from scratch.

In both instances, we were manufacturing at multiple contract manufacturers, using bills of material, standard costing, etc. If you aren't manufacturing, building your own products, there are more ERP solutions which would suffice.

What I liked about Blue Cherry was having a master bill of material for a product and then having color or flavor and size variations within that BOM, a clever and time saving structure.

If ERP is new to your company, keeping it as simple as possible has advantages as that will ease the transition, however, for your team to get behind implementing it, there have to be valuable perceived benefits which may not be as apparent if the system is simple.

Frank Peavy
Title: Principal
Company: Peavy and Associates
(Principal, Peavy and Associates) |

I am glad to hear that you have done a preliminary needs analysis, that is the place to start. I have seen too many firms/individuals make ERP decision based on a testimonial that did not apply to their business.

Yes, determine your needs based on your business model (can’t emphasize this enough), transaction volumes, geographic locations and future growth needs.

Having built the systems for a multi-billion dollar startup company, I can attest that you need to anticipate your growth trajectory and take that into consideration in your ERP selection process. The selection of an ERP system should be part of an overall IT strategy. By looking at only the ERP systems you may overlook critical systems and integration that may hinder your business down the road.

If you feel you need some additional input, feel free to contact me when you’re in the Bay Area

Joseph A Brown
Title: President
Company: Adoga International LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(President, Adoga International LLC) |

Howard and Frank, thanks for the input. It looks like Frank and Emerson and I need to meet up on my next trip to the Bay area.

James Ray
Title: Director
Company: Flimp Media
(Director, Flimp Media) |

Joseph, you didn't mention what platform your company is using for ecommerce or how system is used for handling customer service? Are you wanting an ERP to include those capabilities/operations or just interface with the ERP?

Joseph A Brown
Title: President
Company: Adoga International LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(President, Adoga International LLC) |

James, the eComm is highly customized, starting off on a Spree Commerce platform but soon to be completely home-grown. We will continue to use our customized eComm. As for CRM on both Sales and Customer Service front, we are using a hodge-podge of systems that works, but is not terribly efficient. So, choosing an ERP with good CRM may be desirable.

Rahul Mohta
Title: Independant Advisor for Microsoft Dynami..
Company: Real Dynamics
LinkedIn Profile
(Independant Advisor for Microsoft Dynamics AX, Real Dynamics) |

Hi Joseph,

The next version of Microsoft Dynamics flagship ERP - AX, is going to fully cloud based and suits best for 30 users onwards.

I'm keen to explore the business requirements to gauge a high level fitment with Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Regards
Rahul Mohta
Independent Advisor for Microsoft Dynamics AX

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

There is no BEST, there is the best for your company. It may be a suite of products from the same publisher or it is a best of breed collaboration from many publishers.

You need to ascertain what you need, where you think you'll be down the road, create that RFP, interview publishers, then vendors and make your decision.

Remember to run the demo, not be run. You must create the scenario that is being shown so you can compare apples to apples, not what the publisher/vendor wants you to see!

Joseph A Brown
Title: President
Company: Adoga International LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(President, Adoga International LLC) |

"Remember to run the demo, not be run" is great advice. Thanks for the reminder. Too many times people just watch a demo and don't ask to see specific scenarios applicable to their business. It is easy to just sit back and watch, and not direct to demo, so thanks again for that reminder. Very important.

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