If you’ve had complaints from customers, there’s a good chance your inventory and order management systems aren’t working well. Stay cool: there is one way to reduce operational costs and make it easier for your customers to get the products they want, faster.
An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system comes in handy no matter the size of your business and ecommerce platform you use. Even those merchants that embrace the advanced Magento Commerce Cloud features still take advantage of ERP software that streamlines their business operations.
In this article, we want to review some top performing ERP systems for small businesses and share our expertise integrating them. But first things first: let’s dissect the concept of ERP to understand what it is and why it’s so important.
ERP software organizes core processes of the business, like order and inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), procurement, distribution, and supply chain operations, among others. Used by the government, commercial, and retail institutions, the system gets the product from the manufacturer to the seller and from the seller to the buyer.
ERP acts as an all-in-one “central command center”. Business owners can see analytics reports and, thus, make crucial decisions to increase sales and improve planning and productivity.
We’ve established what an ERP system is — now we need to understand how it works and why you need one.
Without an ERP solution, your business can suffer serious consequences like mixed up orders, incorrect shipping info, invalid inventory levels, and incomplete product information. Eventually, your sales and ROI will suffer without an ERP.
Most businesses can’t function without an ERP because the manpower required to do what an ERP does isn’t economically viable. Our client, Dampfi, decided to build an ERP system for this exact reason.
No large ecommerce business can operate without ERP. But what about small and medium-sized businesses? Do they also require ERP software?
It is theoretically possible for a smaller store to function without an ERP. For example, you can get by with pen-and-paper order and inventory management. There is also the somewhat less archaic Excel spreadsheet option, but in any case, managing a store manually is highly ineffective.
Realistically, the only scenario where you don’t need an automated or semi-automated ERP is if you’re just starting out with an online catalog or working on a proof-of-concept. You will still need an ERP eventually, once you decide to build a fully-functioning ecommerce store and look for which ecommerce platform is the right choice.
While there’s no all-in-one solution software for every business process, ERP can take the brunt of your workload and bring your business processes together in a more cohesive way. With this in hand, you can help your company make data-driven decisions.
So how do you know what kind of system you need? To answer that question, you first need to identify:
There are various ways to add a Magento ERP solution to your e-store. Here are your options:
Before we get down to the list of the best ERP for small businesses, it’s worth looking into the integration options a Magento merchant has.
There are four ways to integrate an ERP on Magento:
Mind that every store has its needs and requirements that will determine the choice of an ERP system. A wholesale distributor will need a flexible system allowing to manipulate complex product data. A small ecommerce shop owner will be interested in an easy integration with some most popular platforms, like Shopify. In the following sections, we’ll review the best ERP software for businesses by industry.
Discrete manufacturing implies assembling a distinct product unit from a number of parts and components. Unlike other types of manufacturing, a discrete manufacturer produces products that can be counted, seen, and touched, like smartphones, garments, sports equipment, etc. Discrete manufacturing ERP software can usually boast of dead-on production planning tools alongside barcode scanning and product life-cycle management capabilities.
An absolute leader in this category of ERP software is Apprise, and let us explain why.
Apprise is an ERP solution designed specifically for manufacturers and distributors. Founded in 21984 and acquired by Aptean in 2017, Apprise is now serving 6,500+ merchants worldwide across various industries. Its main advantage is that Apprise ERP integrates elements of supply chain management (SCM) services that allow it to monitor purchase orders (POs) from the manufacturing floor to order delivery.
Here’s what Apprise ERP offers for discrete manufacturers:
Apprise ERP can be hosted on premise or in cloud, which makes it an appealing option for any business type.
Process manufacturing (also known as batch manufacturing) relies on recipes and formulas to create an item. Its goods cannot be dissembled into parts and usually include food, beverages, paints, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, etc. Process manufacturing ERP includes many of the features present in discrete manufacturing ERP software, like inventory planning. Yet, the formula-based nature of the industry points at some unique needs of process manufacturers that should be covered by an ERP.
Our top favorite in this category of ERPs is BatchMaster.
BatchMaster ERP was created with process manufacturers in mind. The solution works on a formula basis and supports R&D, formulation, packaging, costing, production, quality control and assurance (QC & QA), and inventory modules. The beauty of it is also that it’s a scalable solution. On the one hand, BatchMaster stands alone as the best ERP software for a small business. But if combined with financial platforms like SAP Business One or Microsoft Dynamics GP, it can serve mid-size and large enterprises.
As the best ERP for process manufacturing, BatchMaster presents the following features:
Batchmaster ERP is available on premise and in the cloud. Its pricing plan starts at $2,000.
Wholesale distribution accounts for the management and transfer of goods from manufacturers to retailers. Big players like Sysco and Cardinal Health usually ring a bell in this category. Yet, many wholesalers are actually small businesses — industrial distributors, farm product marketing cooperatives, drop shippers, etc. — who take responsibility for the product before its distribution.
Wholesale distributors need a powerful ERP with native quote-to-cash cycle functions. And Epicor Distribution Suite is just perfect for such wholesaling tasks.
Epicor Distribution is one of the best ERP softwares for small and mid-size businesses. It provides the basic functionality all distributors need, including pre-production materials planning, manufacturing execution, and supply chain, among others. Interestingly, Epicor ERP has a modular system architecture, so merchants can purchase and install only those modules/functions their business requires. For distributors in particular, Epicor ERP offers two solutions: Prophet 21 and Eclipse.
Epicor Prophet 21 is designed to streamline distribution processes during peak performance. Some of key features include
Epicor Eclipse is more suitable for day-today distribution operations and provides the following features:
Epicor Distribution Suite can be installed on premise and in the cloud just like the aforementioned ERPs for manufacturing.
Now let’s change the focus from manufacturers to other key commerce players — retailers. Ecommerce merchants often seek automated solutions to run all their back-office operations. Smart inventory management and fast order fulfillment are the must-have features of all ecommerce ERPs. Pricing management and CRM should also be in place for merchants to keep tabs on leads, customer accounts, and opportunities.
Of all the available ecommerce ERPs on the market, our top choice for small businesses is QuickBooks Commerce.
QuickBooks Commerce (formerly TradeGecko) is a cloud-based ERP for small businesses. It allows a merchant to manage orders, customers, and products from a single place. QuickBooks owners firmly believe in a decoupled approach to ecommerce. In other words, ERPs should stand separately from commerce and accounting operations, thus, making the business agile and easy-to-scale.
QuickBooks Commerce includes the following capabilities:
The requirements for the food industry ERPs are very similar to those of process manufacturing ERPs. Food manufacturers work with recipes and batches and, hence, require an adequate resource management system. Moreover, innovations are in trend in the food industry nowadays, so it’s important for manufacturers to comply with the respective norms and legislations.
bcFood addresses the challenges of the food industry and offers a a specialized ERP solution for small businesses.
Built entirely on Microsoft technologies, bcFood focuses on the food-specific functionality for small businesses. It targets both food processors and manufacturers and tracks products from the field, to the processing plant, and to the retail shop. The ERP keeps up with the fast production pace during harvests and optimizes daily operations.
Some important features of bcFood are:
A merchant can choose whether to install the system on premise, host it with the third-party provider, or access it from the cloud.
Construction industry owners place a heavy focus on automation in view of all the back-office, financial, and transportation-related issues. Because the goods are quite bulky and the tools to make them cost a pretty penny, constructors primarily look into powerful shipping and accounting modules in ERPs. Contractor management features are also important for construction ERP software to track collaboration and communication with independent contractors.
And here’s the top ERP solution we’ve found for construction companies — Jonas Premier.
Jonas Premier Construction Software is a cloud-based ERP for construction companies, land developers, and homebuilders of all shapes and sizes. The solution is appealing for its integrated accounting and job costing features that constructors find fundamental in their work. Billing, job time and expense, inventory management, and more allow merchants to handle complex orders and financial transactions while maintaining fruitful collaboration with contractors.
A constructor can also take advantages of the following features:
Hosted by Microsoft Azure, Jonas Premier is a fully cloud ERP that allows merchants to access data from any device and any location.
So we’ve come to our last (but certainly not least) category of cloud ERPs. You might wonder why it stands as a separate category in this article if all the aforementioned systems have a cloud hosting solution. But there’s this one universal all-in-one system that we want to recommend and that merchants in any industry can use — Oracle NetSuite.
Powered by Oracle, NetSuite ERP is a unified business management SaaS platform. It is used by 40,000+ organizations operating in 160+ countries that vary from manufacturing to retail industries. NetSuite is not only about the financials, which are undoubtedly vital to any business. It is also about human resources, customer relationship, inventory, shipping and billing management operations, all of which fit in an intuitive admin dashboard.
Let’s see which functionalities NetSuite ERP has to offer:
NetSuite ERP is one of the most popular integrations with Magento merchants for its flexibility and customization possibilities. The pricing starts at approximately $1,000+ per month, although the exact cost of ownership will depend on user count, module selection, and merchant’s individual requirements.
When it comes to choosing an ERP system, you have to first identify your business needs.
There are many various ERPs on the market these days, each tailored to the requirements of a specific industry.
When you know what you need to accomplish and where you have gaps, it’s easier to justify spending more on a third-party integration rather than a Magento ERP extension.
So next time, when you see your store running over 20,000 products and 500 orders per day (the limits of the Embedded ERP extension), you’ll know where to go. At Elogic we can integrate any of the ERPs listed above and customize it to your likings.