How to choose the best mobile sales app to support your wholesale distribution company
What makes the best mobile sales app for wholesale distribution?
There is not one single app that would ever qualify as being the best mobile sales app to satisfy every customer. However, by following a few simple guidelines you can select the right app or apps that will make the most sense for you—and bring new value to your distribution business.
Whatever your goals may be—opening new revenue streams, reducing administrative labor, or simply improving the experience of doing business with you—you want to make the right choice.
These are the major things to consider in order to select the best mobile sales app for your wholesale distribution business:
1) Focus on creating a great user experience. 2) Be sure to meet the needs of the individual user. 3) Smartly address your back-end system (ERP/CRM) integration needs. 4) Select your devices (iOS, Android, Windows…) after you’ve determined how you’ll derive value. 5) Make sure your solution has the flexibility and customizability you need to scale and grow.
#1 – Create a great user experience.
Mobile is all about replacing previously manual or antiquated processes with smart phone or tablet technology, but swapping out paper or fax machines with a smart phone app alone will not do it. In order to have great success (what else would you want) you’ll need to make sure to create nothing less than a great user experience. A great user experience means giving your sales people a tool they love so much it makes them want to turn to the app again and again. And a great starting point is a clean, intuitive interface.
# 2 – Meet the needs of the individual user.
Aberdeen Group said in a published report called “Mobile ERP: Taking ROI Into Your Own Hands,” “When ERP mobile apps are tailored to meet the needs of the individual or role in the organization, that is when you achieve high levels of adaptation.”
Besides creating a great user interface, your mobile sales app should be able to cater to individual needs like access to data and task level permissions. When evaluating the best mobile sales app for your wholesale distribution business be sure to understand whether or not you can control access to sensitive data—and whether or not you can control the types of activities that can be performed on an individual basis.
For instance, at a trade show, some users may have permission to add a new customer on the fly, but others may not. Some sales reps may be able to override pricing on a quote, and others may not. Get a clear understanding on your user access needs, and research the flexibility of security options with the app you’re considering.
# 3 – ERP / CRM / back-end system integration
Integration to back-end systems like ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) or accounting software creates major value for a distributor in terms of labor efficiency and error reduction. Some apps offer no system integration which means any tasks you do or data you input with your standalone app you will likely have to repeat in your back-end system. Also, no system integration means your sales representatives will not have access to meaningful information like inventory availability, and open sales order status.
If a pre-existing integration into your ERP for your app is not available, industry veteran Alex Bratton says to plan for about a six month project on customizing that piece alone. Of course, if the integration is available out of the box, then you could be up and running overnight.
# 4 – Choose the hardware and mobile operating system that suits your needs.
Many companies do this in the opposite order. The owner or sales manager of a distribution company might say, “My people mostly have Androids, so I need an app that will work on those devices.” It’s all fine and good to limit your selection of mobile sales apps only to those that work on your current phones—but only if the app is capable of delivering the kind of compelling return on investment (ROI) you have in mind for your business.
If you’re serious about transforming the experience of doing business with you, a better course of action will be to first find the app or apps that are up to the needed tasks, then equip your team with the phones or tablets that on which they run. If your goal is creating differentiation, the value is in the app—not in the choice of devices.
# 5 – Customizability–packaged solutions versus custom built apps
If you’re buying an app from an online app store—something that is available to any business—including your competition, the likelihood that you’re creating really unique differentiation is lessened. However, you will find that there are packaged solutions that are highly configurable—pre-packaged solutions that can be tailored to your specific business rules. Packaged apps tend to be lower in price, and faster to implement. They come with less risk. Truly custom apps will tend to cost more money, but may provide the big difference you’re looking for. Vet your app developers carefully if you’re going that route.
More mobile resources for distributors:
To learn how xkzero can help empower your sales team and processes with mobile enabled ERP, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 847-416-2009 or visit us on the Internet at www.xkzero.com.