Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice helps small businesses select the right CPG software that can streamline the production, distribution and marketing of their products.

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NetSuite

NetSuite is a business management software suite offered as a service that performs enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) functions. It is a horizontal package designed for an extensive rang... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 67 recommendations

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Fishbowl

Fishbowl is a hybrid manufacturing and warehouse management solution designed for small and midsize companies. Key features include inventory control, material requirements planning (MRP), job shop floor control, work order manage... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 65 recommendations

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Agiliron

Agiliron cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) solution is designed to serve both in-store and mobile businesses as well as online sales channels. The system offers a host of features that work in tandem with the point-of-sale solution,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 38 recommendations

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Focus 9

Focus is a cloud-based enterprise software suite that includes modular enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relations management (CRM) solutions. Users can also choose to use individual modules such as warehouse managem... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 37 recommendations

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Epicor Prophet 21

Epicor Prophet 21 is a cloud-based business management solution for distributors powered by Microsoft Azure designed to streamline the various distribution processes in today’s dynamic supply chain. Key capabilities include: inven... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 20 recommendations

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Acumatica Cloud ERP

Acumatica Construction Edition is true cloud construction and accounting software that provides office and field teams real-time data including job costing, change orders, project management, dashboards and more. With field and of... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

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Lead Commerce

Lead Commerce is an integrated order management suite that offers applications like inventory management, merchandise planning, and customer relationship management. The solution helps small and midsize businesses streamline and a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

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Zangerine

Wholesaler or distributor? Zangerine is built to simplify your inventory growth. Go live in 5 sessions. Control your whole business from BI, Purchasing, Inventory, E-commerce, CRM, Quotes, to Pick,Pack & Ship. Quickbooks integrate... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

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WinWeb

WinWeb is a Cloud based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite for small and midsize businesses in multiple industries including wholesale, retail, and health care. WinWeb’s ERP Suite can be accessed through any web browser and ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

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Quickbase

Quick Base is a low-code application development platform that enables organizations to unite information, people, and workflows within distribution in a single, cloud-based platform. Unlike traditional software solutions, Quick B... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Aquilon ERP

Aquilon Software offers a combined supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, and financial management system that is deployable either on the cloud or on-premise. All modules integrate with each other, allowing users to gain full... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Acctivate Inventory Management

Acctivate is a QuickBooks inventory add-on for small and medium manufacturers, distributors, and online retailers. It extends the inventory and business management functionality of QuickBooks Desktop (Enterprise, Pro and Premier).... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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R4 Enterprise

Royal 4 Enterprise is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution with built-in modules for distribution, manufacturing, planning, inventory management, reporting and company financials. It serves midsize to large en... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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Deskera Books

Deskera Books is an easy-to-use tool for business owners. The dashboard gives users a quick overview of orders, invoices, bills, receivables, bank account balance, and much more. Users can create professional invoices with a colle... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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AdvancePro

AdvancePro offers a cloud-based inventory management solution for a variety of industry verticals to help them manage buying, warehousing, selling and shipping processes. The solution closely visualizes the stock levels at all tim... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Bizowie ERP

Bizowie Cloud ERP is a web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution designed for mid-market manufacturers and distributors. Built on a true-cloud architecture, it combines a modern, user-friendly interface with a robust f... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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S2K Enterprise

S2K Enterprise Management solution by VAI is a cloud-based, integrated ERP system designed to manage midsize and enterprise businesses in the wholesale distribution, manufacturing and speciality retail industries, across many vert... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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AcctVantage ERP

AcctVantage ERP is an agile ERP solution that includes functions for accounting, warehouse management, CRM, supply chain management and business intelligence. The solution is developed for inventory-based manufacturers, wholesaler... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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ERP-ONE+

ERP-ONE+ is Distribution One’s ERP solution for wholesalers and distributors. Featuring Cloud or On-Premise deployments, this 64-bit turnkey system supplies all the functionality required to automate distribution processes includi... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Latitude WMS

Latitude WMS is a warehouse management solution for retail and wholesale distributors of all sizes. Key features include cycle counting, performance metrics, picking, putaway, receiving and WMS training. Latitude WMS provides... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: June 5, 2021

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is one where small businesses and startups are doing better than big brands. Small players have benefited from the e-commerce boom and new marketing channels, such as Amazon Go Store, that have disrupted the CPG market. This has lead to a shift in customer demand from traditional packaged products to local and healthier alternatives.

While the market trends are favorable, small CPG companies still face the challenges of keeping logistics costs low, ensuring on-time delivery to retailers, improving product marketing, managing product recalls, tracking inventory and more.

This is where consumer packaged goods software comes in. If you're not leveraging CPG software, your operations will suffer and you'll have a hard time seeing your business grow. In this Buyer's Guide, we will look at how CPG solutions benefit SMBs and the key considerations for first-time buyers of the software.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Consumer Packaged Goods Software?
Common Features of Consumer Packaged Goods Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Key Considerations
Market Trends

What Is Consumer Packaged Goods Software?

Consumer packaged goods software helps businesses manage and monitor products as they move along the supply chain: from manufacturing to sales.

CPG solutions boost transparency and simplify the production, warehousing, distribution, marketing and sales of consumable goods.

Here's an example of how CPG software can give users added insights into their business processes:

Purchase order entry in Epicor

Purchase order entry in Epicor

These tools are essential for small manufacturers and distributors of consumer packaged goods, who need to track and monitor their products for quality compliance. Besides that, these tools help in financial planning, product shipping, pricing management and much more.

Common Features of Consumer Packaged Goods Software

CPG solutions offer functionalities that help SMBs streamline production, optimize the distribution and manage sales of consumable goods via online or brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Here's a quick look at the common features of CPG tools:

Lot tracking Track products along the supply chain by lot numbers to manage quality control and compliance.
Inventory management Access centralized, real-time records of customer orders, shipped products and warehouse stock.
Financial accounting Manage the general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable to generate profit and loss statements.
Electronic Data Interchange Transfer files such as bills of lading, payment documents and more securely via built-in EDI systems.
Pricing management Create sales quotes and handle product discounts as well as rebates.
Customer management Maintain a repository of customer profiles segmented by their preferences, purchase history, loyalty programs and other details.
Trade promotion Plan, evaluate and track return-on-investment (ROI) of product marketing and promotion efforts.
Forecast and demand planning Build product demand forecast reports by analyzing historical sales, pricing variations, customer demand and market share.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

The ideal CPG software for you depends on the requirements and budget of your businesses.

Most CPG solutions are designed to help you manage the production and distribution of products. However, some tools also offer a full-suite of features that help in product marketing, sales management and customer management.

Here are two of the most common types of buyers and their concerns:

  • Small business buyers: These buyers are looking for ease of use and affordable tools, instead of full-featured solutions. That makes cloud-based solutions ideal, as they come with a subscription based pricing model with small monthly payments. Since the pricing is tiered according to different plans, buyers can choose the one that fits their budget. Also, cloud-based software vendors typically offer support services for bug fixes, software updates and data-backup, which is ideal for small businesses who don't have a large IT team and dedicated data centers.
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  • Large enterprise buyers: These buyers are typically looking for full-suite software. The ideal solution should have product performance monitoring and data collection as well as built-in e-commerce and customer management tools. Also, integration with popular third-party accounting tools, customer relationship management (CRM) software and product life cycle management (PLM) solutions is necessary to ensure that data transfer is seamless across the different systems that an enterprise is using or intends to use.

Key Considerations

Aside from the size and scale of your business, there are a couple of factors that should determine your software purchase decision. Let's have a quick look at what they are:

Manufacturer vs. distributor: Whether you're the distributor or the actual manufacturer makes a difference in the choice of software. For instance, small distributors of food products will find niche food distribution software more relevant and cost-effective than a full-fledged CPG solution. Likewise, those who are strictly manufacturers will benefit more by opting for food manufacturing software.

Retail management functionalities: Small CPG companies that handle retail by themselves need certain add-on functionalities. For instance, if you run a retail outlet, then you need a POS solution to transact and track in-store payments. Additionally, if you want to showcase and sell your products online, you should look for a built-in e-commerce platform.

Integration: While CPG tools offer many functionalities that help companies manage different business processes, these tools are part of a larger software ecosystem consisting of tools such as PLM, CRM and more. The CPG tool you buy must offer built-in integration with this closely-related family of third-party tools. A benefit of this, for example, would be the ability to extract business insights and pricing guidelines from tools such as a CRM.

Market Trends

The consumer packaged goods industry has a love/hate relationship with technology disruptions. On one hand, studies reveal a rise in logistic costs for CPG companies owing to the e-commerce boom. On the other hand, small CPG startups are holding their own in an industry dominated traditionally by large players.

Here's a quick look at a few tech trends and their benefits:

E-tail: According to studies, about 70% of US consumers will purchase groceries online by 2020. This means that the internet will be a bigger destination than brick and mortar retail stores for shoppers in the near future. Businesses selecting CPG tools must look for e-commerce capabilities that will help them market products online.

Robotic Automation: Robotic automation has hit the supply chain and retail industry hard and fast. With Amazon's trailblazing warehouse robots that the company claims cut its operating costs by 20%, more companies have followed suit—including FedEx, which introduced “tugger" robots that lug freight at its shipping hub. While the technology is not yet widespread enough for SMBs to start leveraging it, robotic automation is here: be it lugging freight in a warehouse or assisting shoppers in a retail store.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT): At Software Advice, we have published reports on how AI and IoT impacted supply chain management. These technologies primarily benefit CPG companies in compliance and delivery management. For instance, products can be constantly monitored in an IoT-enabled transportation environment consisting of “internet-connected" sensors, which improve product traceability and prevents loss of goods in transit. Similarly, AI, which is an amalgam of computer vision, natural-language processing and many other technologies, helps CPG companies automate different business processes, such as demand planning, forecasting and pricing optimization.