Today, with the increasing impact of eCommerce on distribution companies, it’s more important than ever to have a systematic approach for both importing and managing your inventory in Macola. In this post, we describe the typical best-practice approach to doing so.
Importing Inventory in Macola
It’s common today to receive purchase order-related items via a mobile device. As employees receive items, they scan them to ensure they match open POs, line items, and other attributes, such as serial and lot information. If they match, they’re entered into Macola and the material information is available immediately.
Using automated warehouse management functionality, such as that from Wisys, organizations can establish rules to scan and validate item quantities, followed by automated workflows to place inventory in specific warehouse locations and bins.
Representing Inventory Available for Sale
Many companies already know which inventory they want to sell online and which inventory they’ll sell separately via traditional B2B channels. Macola provides a wide range of options for representing your inventory, including such criteria as naming items available by channel, which specific inventory level is available for each channel (by item), and the pricing of items based on the channel they’re selling through.
To maximize their profits, companies that sell directly to consumers online as part of their channel mix allocate a more significant percentage of each item to eCommerce sites, as these sales normally come at higher margins than B2B sales. Whether your company chooses this strategy or favors keeping higher percentages of items available for other channels is up to you; Macola provides the flexibility to design and change the rules as your business evolves.
The Challenge to Push Online Orders into Macola
For many distribution companies and new-to-online manufacturers, the mechanics of flowing orders into Macola can vary greatly depending on the solution used. Many organizations use eCommerce providers that offer a storefront platform for downloading and uploading orders and their associated fulfillment responses. The downside to these platforms is that they don’t conform to the unique ways you do business, so you likely have to change processes to suit them.
Custom eCommerce platform development is another option for pushing orders into Macola. While they can be designed and developed to align with your specific business needs and processes, they can be prohibitively expensive and take longer to implement than a standard eCommerce platform.
Given the downside of standard eCommerce platforms and custom platforms, many distributors are still receiving online orders electronically but manually entering them into Macola – and that’s the wrong way to compete in today’s fast-moving markets.
APIs and SDKs Automate Macola Order Entry
A better way to automate online order entry into Macola is to leverage APIs (application programming interfaces), or SDKs (software development kits) to perform the entire process for you virtually – with no need to invest in expensive eCommerce solutions.
Macola offers their APIs for completing the order-import process. However, Macola APIs are new and provide limited functionality with a user interface that is less than friendly; it’s also not available for Macola Progression or Macola ES.
However, Wisys, which already does a masterful job of importing and managing inventory for Macola-based organizations, offers a suite of SDKs that cover Macola’s distribution system, inventory management, and order entry (including eCommerce order entry). Additionally, the Wisys SDKs have operated in the market for a long time and are functional for Macola Progression, Macola ES, and Macola 10. Developers find Wisys SDKs easy to implement because they’re Microsoft .Net-based, making design easy for initiating multiple processes from a single transaction and integrating with the eCommerce front end.
Optimizing Inventory Management
If you adopted WiSys for importing and managing inventory with Macola, leveraging on-the-move inventory would be simpler with another Wisys solution, called InTransit Inventory. It enables you to transfer inventory from one location to another by using a temporary location to store items while they’re in transit. This temporary location corresponds to the ‘truck, ship, train, etc.’ that contains the inventory in route and assumes the temporary location is a non-binned location. Warehouse staff can use the same handheld devices they used for receiving orders to validate and ship each item on an outgoing order. Bin and serial/lot information is also validated and transferred to the temporary location. At the destination location, when each item on the sales order is received, your bin and serial/lot information is also validated and transferred to the final destination.
The need to import and manage inventory in Macola has become increasingly complex now that distribution businesses need to account for both traditional and online channels. Fortunately, third-party vendors, such as Wisys, that specialize in optimizing and extending Macola functionality are making it easier for small and midsized distributors to keep pace with markets that demand fast response to evolving customer demands.