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Distribution Software - Information
Distributors who can accurately project their inventory needs based on current sales, automatically notify suppliers only when that inventory falls below a previously established level, and take advantage of automated systems that order, process and coordinate product shipments - all in real time - find themselves ahead of the game and ahead of their competitors.

Real time distribution software makes doing business on the Internet nearly the same as meeting with customers and suppliers face-to-face, except faster. Software vendors who supply distribution products have come to the realization that when their applications perform in real time, companies have the opportunity to operate electronically in ways that mirror more closely the waythey actually do business. With vendors revamping their products to integrate more easily with other applications and with other vendors products, distributors can realize even more benefits from their automated business processes. Some companies have even found that the capability for operating with real time visibility allows for lower inventory levels, but also enables them to quickly acquire additional inventory when it becomes necessary. Suppliers can be more responsive to actual market trends if they only have to order, or assemble, products when inventories drop to a pre-specified level and they are automatically alerted. An outsourced manufacturer can be used nearly as if it were an internal organization because it becomes rapidly responsive to needs in the supply chain.

Analytical functions are becoming more prevalent in distribution softwarein direct response to user needs. For example, applications that are currently in the works are designed to coordinate supply commitments with order forecasts and analyze previous supplier performance. Because this is accomplished in real time, planners can calculate risks and manage liabilities with greater accuracy. Other applications allow planning and production schedules to be shared between business partners, who can transact purchases, expedite shipments and handle invoicing all in one process. Several distribution software companies are working on capabilities which include demand-planning forecasting and forecast collaboration, combined with supply-planning tools for multi-site distribution and manufacturing planning.

In some cases, businesses which have current promotions in place that are generating higher sales figures, can use that information to analyze how well current forecasts are meeting present demand. If the need for product is greater than the previous forecast, partners could automatically be notified to gear up and send more inventory or supplies. In fact, sharing and managing inventory data will soon become commonplace since all major distribution software manufacturers are working to improve their products with real time capabilities.

In addition, software providers have also realized that their products must be compatible across a variety of platforms, if they are going to meet customer needs for real time applications. Many companies simply do not have the resources, or the desire, to replace all of their existing applications at the same time. Distribution software that can coordinate all of their varied operations into one smooth function is invaluable.

The bottom line is that with more information, supplied more quickly, business will be able to make better planning decisions. Information, in the right form, at the right place and at the optimum time, gives the user a substantial competitive advantage..

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