Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped many distributors choose the right inventory management software so they can manage shipping and receiving and balance supply levels.

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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: 52 recommendations

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NetSuite

With an integrated system that includes ERP, financials, commerce, inventory management, HR, PSA, supply chain management, CRM and more – NetSuite enables fast-growing businesses across all industries to work more effectively by a... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 48 recommendations

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Focus X

Focus X is an all-inclusive enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that helps you connect every aspect of your business operations. From production to supply chain, customer relationship management to inventory and human resour... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 23 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: 23 recommendations

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Acumatica Cloud ERP

Acumatica Cloud ERP provides the best business management solution for transforming your company to thrive in the new digital economy. Through leading-edge technology, best-in-class business functionality, and customer-friendly ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 19 recommendations

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Quickbase

Quickvase 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, Quickvas... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 17 recommendations

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Epicor for Distribution

Epicor for Distribution 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:... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 16 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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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: 11 recommendations

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Acctivate Inventory Management

Built for growing product-selling businesses using QuickBooks, Acctivate is a premium inventory management & multi-channel order fulfillment add-on that helps you focus on growth without operational limitations. Solve for QuickB... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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ERP-ONE+

ERP-ONE by Distribution One is a functionally complete offering that is sold as a broad suite to handle distribution needs. Distribution One’s ERP-ONE solution is built for distributors with revenue between $1 and $25 million.... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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Lead Commerce

Lead commerce is an Software as a Service (SaaS) inventory management solution that offers any size business a suite of applications like inventory management, merchandise planning and customer relationship management. ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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iNECTA Food

iNECTA is a provider of ERP software partnered and powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365. Specializing in multiple industries, iNECTA’s solutions are catered to fit the needs of small to medium sized businesses specifically. iNECTA Fo... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 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: 6 recommendations

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Accolent ERP

Packed with features and flexibly priced, browser-based Accolent ERP can be installed on-premises or hosted in the Cloud for distributors from 3 to 100+ users. ADS Solutions has 25+ years of experience. ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Infoplus

Infoplus WMS is a web-based warehouse management software solution for small to midsize 3PLs, eCommerce Retailers, and Wholesalers focused on taking control of overall inventory, warehouse operations and shipping. Key featur... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 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: 4 recommendations

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Blue Link ERP

Established in 1992, Blue Link offers a robust Wholesale/Distribution ERP system with powerful inventory management and accounting features including landed cost tracking, lot tracking and barcode scanning. ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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AdvancePro

Join the over 2,000 people who have utilized AdvancePro's dynamic and customizable inventory management solution to oversee their warehouses efficiently and maintain customer satisfaction. Deployed as Web-based or on-premise.... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Aquilon ERP

Aquilon is an ERP program that supports SCM, manufacturing, distribution, and accounting functions. The program is suited for SMBs and can be used in the cloud or on local servers.... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: January 22, 2022

Inventory management is one of the oldest uses for computer systems and it remains one of the most complex issues. As a result, we track more than 100 different systems. We wrote this buyer’s guide to help buyers shed some light on this market.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Distribution Inventory Management Software?
Common Features of a Distribution Inventory Management System
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Benefits and Potential Issues
Market Trends to Understand
The Vendor Landscape

What Is Distribution Inventory Management Software?

Ross Perot said “Inventories can be managed but people must be led.” Both parts of the sentence are important in understanding inventory management software. Distribution inventory management software helps companies buy, track, deliver merchandise and supplies. It tracks the on-hand, allocated and ordered quantities to show actual stock levels. It shows the current value, and provides historical and trend information for planning purposes. Inventory management software helps balance supply levels so that sufficient quantities are on hand to supply customer needs without having too much capital invested or having inventory that goes out of date or spoils.

The inventory system performs other important tasks. The first is that it produces the picking information to fulfill customer orders. Second, it provides receiving information to make sure that orders placed with vendors are completed successfully. Inventory control systems are used for tracking reorder points, managing lot number tracking, generating order advice or even placing orders automatically. Order management systems can integrate with inventory systems to check quantities on hand or lead times for out-of-stock items. Inventory applications also track important inventory value information for accounting purposes.

Common Features of a Distribution Inventory Management System

The five features below are common in most modern distribution inventory management systems:

  • Front counter operations. This feature helps handle the necessary transactional tasks, such as processing orders, calculating taxes and printing receipts.
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  • Warehouse and inventory management. These features work together to help distributors monitor inventory levels, manage receiving and shipping and determining optimal reordering.
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  • Transportation management. Users can manage the scheduling of shipments and routes to improve logistics and reduce costs.
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  • Customer management (CRM). A CRM in distribution keeps a log of retrievable customer information to improve speed and satisfaction. Users can also produce reports to identify purchasing trends.
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  • Distribution accounting. This feature helps handle all the revenues and expenditures, and offers a general ledger to track all transactions.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Before evaluating different solutions, you’ll need to determine what type of buyer you are. Over 90 percent of buyers fall into one of these four groups:

Full-suite buyer. These buyers value the seamless integration of data and processes that comes from having one provider for all functions. For example, a top full-suite system for accounting, customer relationship management and inventory management can turn quotes automatically into orders and then generate picking lists, shipping labels and invoices. These buyers favor complete software suites like Oracle, SAP, Sage ERP or Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Multiple warehouse operations buyer. These enterprise buyers run multiple facilities and need to track and balance inventories over a geographical area. The buyers require software that can balance inventory between warehouses while strategically placing it closest to the probable customers. Finally, the software must determine the best choice between drop shipping split orders between warehouses or centrally receiving inventory and then shipping to warehouses.

Departmental buyer. These buyers are distribution specialists for firms that have an internal distribution network. They may only sell to their own outlets, but they must contend with multiple suppliers, inventory issues, competing corporate customers and transportation decisions similar to commercial distributors use.

Small business buyer. These buyers may work for distributors or wholesalers or may have a distribution component as part of their company. They usually have smaller numbers of clients, suppliers and inventory and may include some assembly or production components but still face the same basic issues as large-scale distributors. They may be using dedicated systems or an integrated solution.

Benefits and Potential Issues

Effective inventory management is a critical success factor for distributors. You can expect the following benefits from an inventory management system.

Time savings. Inventory management systems can save time in all aspects of handling inventory. Slotting analysis saves time by having frequently picked items placed where they can be quickly located. Picking systems speed the process to fulfill customer orders. Receiving systems allow for the efficient inflow and processing of inventory.

Capital savings. Inventory management systems can help business reorder stock and supplies at economic reorder amounts. 

Integration with accounting systems. Integration with the rest of the accounting system is hugely important. Information shared with the general ledger keeps balance sheets current. Inventory reorders trigger entries in purchase order and accounts receivable. Pick information and shipping information is shared with accounts payable.

There are two key issues with general ledger systems. The first is the cost of implementation and maintenance. The inventory must start from a clean physical inventory, which can be time consuming and labor intensive. Periodic inventories must be conducted to ensure that the physical count agrees with the system count.

The second challenge is discipline. It is very, very easy to grab a piece of stock from a shelf for a customer and “catch up on the paperwork later.” It is easy to do and, as a manager, it is easy to excuse. But it can have a devastating effect on an inventory management system. And when it is part of a integrated system, the errors spread all the way through.

Market Trends to Understand

Inventory systems continue to evolve and are one of the most dynamic parts of ERP and supply chain systems. The following are trends to consider when selecting a system.

Pick to light technology. Pick to light (PTL) is a paperless picking technology. Instead of printing a pick list, arrays of lights on the ceiling and shelving indicate the location of the items to be picked. Digital displays on the shelf give the quantity to pick. 

Intelligent inventory tagging. The use of one-dimensional bar coding for equipment and inventory tagging is well established in manufacturing programs. Recent systems use radio frequency identification (RFID), which can be read remotely to check inventory levels and to confirm equipment availability. Other systems use two-dimensional bar codes which contain descriptive information in addition to an identifier like a part number.

Advanced slotting analysis. Advanced slotting analysis uses historical inventory information, picking trends and warehouse shelving layout information to determine the most cost-effective placement of supplies. Slotting analysis can also ensure that dangerous items are not stored together, for example, ammonia next to chlorine, which could violate government regulations, insurance restrictions and common sense.

The Vendor Landscape

Inventory management systems vary greatly; buyers need to understand their scope and scale while evaluating inventory packages.

This type of buyer... Should evaluate these systems
Full-suite buyer SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics
Multiple warehouse operations Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Infor
Departmental buyer Exact Globe, Geneva, ADS, Oracle, SAP
Small business buyer Blue Link, ADS, Infor, Abas