Q&A: How one wine and spirits wholesaler found success in a new ERP system
This post was sponsored by E8 ERP.
With new wine and spirits products launching regularly, SKU proliferation continues to be an issue, and the complexity of operating as a wholesaler in the space has increased significantly. From inventory tracking and warehouse automation to logistics and sales execution, a comprehensive ERP system can help solve challenging aspects of the supply chain and streamline operations, setting wine and spirits wholesalers up for success. We talked to to Houston-based Mexcor International Wine & Spirits' Chief Financial Officer Scott Kliever about selecting E8 ERP as their new software provider and why they chose the system.
What challenges were you facing and how did you decide a new ERP system would solve those?
We had an ERP system that had not been upgraded for years, nor was it being used to its full capacity. Routing was being done manually, there was no locator system in the warehouse or on routes, or even tracking of return products back to the pick slots. Financials were also being done manually from downloads out of the system which didn’t allow for time to create a financial reporting/KPI analysis.
What opportunities were you missing?
We weren’t tracking a number of important operational KPI’s, so we had no way of knowing where we were missing opportunities. Since our financial reporting was being done by hand on spreadsheets, consistency was lacking. The sales team didn’t have accurate sales reports showing revenue and margins by product type, so that was really holding us back in a lot of ways. Our order tracking and forecasting was also falling behind, which can create a lot of problems when it comes to servicing customers.
How would a new ERP system address these challenges and help you take advantage of opportunities?
From our view, a new ERP would put everything together from one end of our business to the other. We envisioned an all-in-one system that would eliminate the need to bolt-on products to gain full system functionality. When you’re working with multiple systems, it’s easy for data to get lost in translation and it creates unnecessary difficulties. When errors are created as a result of data feeding in from all of these disparate systems, it’s extremely hard to find where the error is even coming from. With a comprehensive system, that worry is alleviated.
What did you look for when selecting an ERP vendor?
With such a big decision at hand, we wanted to see proof. Systems can look nice on paper but in the end, it’s really about the long-term partnership and the industry specificity of a system. We looked for a vendor that had years of experience working with companies similar to our operation, the bandwidth to successfully train our employees and the capacity to implement change to the operating software over time.
What benefits did you see once you implemented a new solution?
The access to data is huge, whether it’s determining our most profitable accounts or getting data out to supporting vendors like banks, customers and suppliers. Along with that, we’ve seen improvements in daily route planning and increased inventory accuracy. We’ve also implemented electronic data interchange (EDI) to streamline the process of collecting payment from our customers.
The functional areas of our new system meet our needs and continue to be upgraded as we grow. I have no doubt this will support all our needs as we implement new customer-focused interactive portals and attract new employees to the company who want to be part of creating new experiences.
What advice would you offer others in the industry looking to bring in a new system?
Training is crucial. It really sets the course for the entire implementation and helps get the whole team comfortable with the new system that will be their new day-to-day reality.
This one may be obvious but I feel like it’s worth mentioning -- be solely focused on your ERP selection and implementation. Don’t try to install a new system when you have other things going on because making full use of your time and resources will pay off.
One of our strategies was to ask each vendor to do a full encompassing write-up on project parameters, system functionality and a full cost breakdown. The ability to see a side-by-side comparison of cost and associated features is key to making an educated decision. We made sure the vendors were aware of our company, what we do and how we do it. One huge consideration I already mentioned is paying attention to where you’ll need bolt-on products. One vendor may be cheaper, but bolting on a product may make that option substantially more expensive.
When you have all of these items identified upfront with associated warehouse, transportation, and equipment costs, the ability to make an ERP selection becomes much less daunting.
Scott Kliever joined Mexcor International Wine & Spirits as chief financial officer in 2018, bringing over 25 years of broadline foodservice, supply chain and wholesale distribution experience to compliment the Mexcor family of businesses. Kliever began his career working at his family-owned customized distribution and freight brokerage business and went on to work at Sysco, helping to bring technology, efficiencies and operational accountability change to the private equity Merchants organization.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for WSWA Smartbrief or check out all of SmartBrief’s food and travel newsletters as we offer more than 30 newsletters covering the food and travel industries from restaurants, food retail and food manufacturing to business travel, the airline and hotel industries and gaming.