Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice



  • I've got a company doing online sales and ships from their local warehouse. They also manufacturer stuff, and do product customizing where the customer actually sends stuff TO them as part of the order.

    There is only one sales channel which is their ecommerce store (BigCommerce Enterprise).

    Despite BC costing like $1600/m, they have very poor order processing. You can't accept multiple payments, can't do split payments or partial down payments. You can't edit orders after customers makes them or do partial refunds etc etc.
    You also can't create custom order statuses or tags/categories or even have a quick notes field that is easy to access and view.

    Regardless, due to their complex catalog and offerings, they need something beyond the simple tools in BigC.

    I first looked at fulfillment software like ShipStation, ShippingEasy, and Ordoro.
    This software is adequate to replace software such as UPS Worldship and Stamps.com, but are not generally acceptable as complete order management tools. ShippingEasy, for example, does not import all orders, only those from certain BigC statuses.
    ShipStation imports almost all orders, but skips any that do not actually require "shipping" services, like say digital products. So it can't be considered order management, as some orders never get in to it.
    As fulfillment software, they work great and are reasonably priced.

    When I try to jump into full order management, I usually get pulled in to these massive all-in-one suites that do everything. ERP, CRM, order, shipping, receiving, vendors, POs, accounting, ecommerce, marketing.
    Suites like NetSuite and Bizautomation come to mind. Another called Orderbot is a somewhat customized solution in this space. Problem is all of them are way out of budget and probably over the top in features for our needs. NetSuite being $4k to $5k to start. Orderbot being up to $40k for the first year getting started.

    Other systems cross my path like ShipWire.
    The problem with a lot of these other tools is they try to be too much. I don't want full accounting, we've already got that. I don't want built-in ecommerce, we're using BigC. I don't need a huge focus on running dozens of channels, we've got just one. I don't need a huge focus on multiple warehouses or global distribution.

    What I DO need, is to manage our order lifecycle. What statuses and tags they are in, who is responsible to do what, what the order is waiting for, what POs the order is attached to waiting for parts. We need fulfillment and shipping, naturally.
    That's about it.

    So I've found decent fulfillment software but is not order management. I've found fulfillment + inventory and warehouse management (ERP) but also lacking order management.
    I've found order management but it's far too expensive and drags along other services we don't need.
    I've found software like Megaventory but they don't have integrations, you have to build off their API yourself.
    I've found BrightPearl, which is very close to our needs, a little too much, but is just out of budget, being over $500/m to start. They are out of Europe though, and we're a US company.

    At this point, my Google is failing. I have "snow eyes" and simply can't find something for our needs.
    I started looking for an online retail/ecommerce consultant but this space seems filled with SEO-foo wannabes and I can't tell who is gold and who wants affiliate commissions.

    If we could have some ERP features like generating POs, that's ok. I want something that:

    1. Pulls in ALL orders from all channels.
    2. Advanced order management; tags, filters, categories, statuses, notes, workflows, user assignments, tasks, customer communications tracking. And sync as much of this data as possible back to the channel when done.
    3. Fulfillment. Advanced shipping rules, automations, batch label printing, reports, split boxes, split shipments, error checking (address validation etc) and syncing tracking codes and everything back to channel.
    4. Affordable for small business. They can't afford one piece of software being an entire employees wage.
    5. If full order and fulfillment comes along with basic ERP and CRM or some level of accounting, so be it. But we aren't replacing our current accounting.
    6. Ecommerce and marketing not necessary, we already have a cart and other services.

    I've reached my limit for doing research on this, either no such software exists, or adequate tools are impossible to find within budget.
    The budget we have is not outside what something like ShipStation is, but ShipStation, feature wise, is only getting us about 85% of the way there. It's so close!
    Software seems to jump from $40-$80/month strait to $600-$5000/m. Where is the middle market?



  • Let me look at what Xero can do. I will ask my account manager if they have an app for that.





  • @NetworkNerd might have some ideas.





  • If we could have some ERP features like generating POs, that's ok. I want something that:

    1. Pulls in ALL orders from all channels.
    2. Advanced order management; tags, filters, categories, statuses, notes, workflows, user assignments, tasks, customer communications tracking. And sync as much of this data as possible back to the channel when done.
    3. Fulfillment. Advanced shipping rules, automations, batch label printing, reports, split boxes, split shipments, error checking (address validation etc) and syncing tracking codes and everything back to channel.
    4. Affordable for small business. They can't afford one piece of software being an entire employees wage.
    5. If full order and fulfillment comes along with basic ERP and CRM or some level of accounting, so be it. But we aren't replacing our current accounting.
    6. Ecommerce and marketing not necessary, we already have a cart and other services.

    I've reached my limit for doing research on this, either no such software exists, or adequate tools are impossible to find within budget.
    The budget we have is not outside what something like ShipStation is, but ShipStation, feature wise, is only getting us about 85% of the way there. It's so close!
    Software seems to jump from $40-$80/month strait to $600-$5000/m. Where is the middle market?

    I know some ERP software companies like Epicor now have a cloud-based model, but I do not know their pricing structure. But, I do not know that the synchronization piece you would want would be present out of the box. I will say it is one of the more customizable ERPs out there according to my boss, who is quite the guru.

    I also have a friend who owns a company whose ERP package is completely web based, and I will see if I can get more details from him on it as to whether it can meet these needs.

    Honestly if you did not have to pull in data from another system I'd say look at Epicor and their EDI functionality. But it's likely not going to meet the budget if you fully license the software for in-house use.



  • @NetworkNerd Ya EDI is not really where we're at, with just a single BigCommerce cart. Though personally I want to get us on multiple channels some day, perhaps just Amazon and Ebay even.



  • @Minion-Queen said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    n app for tha

    Isn't Xero for accounting?

    They handle accounting a little differently. They use QuickBooks but do NOT import every sale and order and invoice etc. The only thing they record is the daily batches, that is, deposits.

    Supposedly they just don't want to crowd and fill up QB with thousands of orders and invoices and customers.
    Whenever they want financial reports a the customer-order level, I tend to have to create those reports based on the various reports and exports I can get out of the shopping cart.



  • @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @Minion-Queen said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    n app for tha

    Isn't Xero for accounting?

    It's ERP for accounting 😉

    ERP and Accounting overlap heavily on a Venn diagram. Accounting is generally the most important function of an ERP. Xero does a lot more than just accounting, but accounting is where they started.



  • @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    They handle accounting a little differently. They use QuickBooks but do NOT import every sale and order and invoice etc. The only thing they record is the daily batches, that is, deposits.

    Replace QB 🙂 You don't normally use an ERP with QB, you replace QB with your ERP.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    They handle accounting a little differently. They use QuickBooks but do NOT import every sale and order and invoice etc. The only thing they record is the daily batches, that is, deposits.

    Replace QB 🙂 You don't normally use an ERP with QB, you replace QB with your ERP.

    Yep - all the companies we've acquired had QB, and we've been ripping it out as we go.



  • @NetworkNerd said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @scottalanmiller said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    They handle accounting a little differently. They use QuickBooks but do NOT import every sale and order and invoice etc. The only thing they record is the daily batches, that is, deposits.

    Replace QB 🙂 You don't normally use an ERP with QB, you replace QB with your ERP.

    Yep - all the companies we've acquired had QB, and we've been ripping it out as we go.

    Nuke it with fire!!!



  • @scottalanmiller said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    They handle accounting a little differently. They use QuickBooks but do NOT import every sale and order and invoice etc. The only thing they record is the daily batches, that is, deposits.

    Replace QB 🙂 You don't normally use an ERP with QB, you replace QB with your ERP.

    While I've never dealt with an ERP, I always assumed it was the one stop shop for this stuff.



  • @Dashrender said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @scottalanmiller said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    They handle accounting a little differently. They use QuickBooks but do NOT import every sale and order and invoice etc. The only thing they record is the daily batches, that is, deposits.

    Replace QB 🙂 You don't normally use an ERP with QB, you replace QB with your ERP.

    While I've never dealt with an ERP, I always assumed it was the one stop shop for this stuff.

    That's the idea. CRM, Accounting and loads of all stuff all bundled into one thing.



  • I don't want to poor vinegar in your fruitloops, but your budget seems way low for this type of endeavor.

    ERP packages are really designed around everything you mentioned short of accounting, and accounting is the primary focus of most ERP systems. QB is not the way to go, and better to change now rather than later.

    You did not provide any indication of how big this company is, and an idea of the revenue. This would help tremendously in finding a good solution. But, you're going to need more money. $500/month will not get you there.

    To say that having the software cannot cost as much as an employee is unrealistic. It should cost more, because it's going to do the work of multiple employees.

    Generally ERP is going to cost from the low $20K to $millions depending on your needs and the number of users. For example; Syspro (which is not a horrible choice for your needs) will run about $30K for the initial install with 5 users.

    This is NOT where you will spend the most money. Planning and implementation will cost at least this much. And you will have annual maintenance and upgrades.

    None of these solutions are turnkey, and will require configuration, and in most cases, some customization. This will be true in your case, as you want to integrate with other packages.

    The features you describe certainly are functions of ERP systems, and the trick will be to find one that has most of what you want, plus the ability to configure or customize to encompass the rest.

    At the end of the day, if they won't or can't pony up, you may have to live with ShipStation and make some customizations or some work-arounds.

    Good luck



  • @pchiodo I think an important way to look at ERP is that you are... installing a new business. ERP is the core of the entire company, it's anything but trivial.



  • I agree with everyone an ERP system is certainly a HUGE undertaking not only from cost but from implementation.

    From what you described you MIGHT be able to cobb something together using Xero but that might be as close as you can get with your budget constraints.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    it's anything but trivial.

    Understatement!



  • @pchiodo
    Ya that's never going to happen.
    We ship around 500 orders a month. It's just enough for us to handle "manually" without needing a full ERP.

    A product like ShipStation is perfectly suitable for our warehouse to get packages out. Where it fails is one step back, at the order management level. We need to do all the things with orders before it's ready to process for shipment.

    This involves nothing more than good "notes" as far as most of us are concerned.

    1. When did order get placed?
    2. What products were in stock? Are they now pulled/allocated?
    3. If not in stock, are they on order? If so, connected to what PO from what vendor? When can we expect delivery?
    4. Does a line item need customization? If so do we have it out yet? Where? When expected to return? Are we waiting for a PO AND customizing?
    5. Does a line item require customer to send US something? If so, have they sent it? Have we received it? Is it out for assembly or customizing? When is it expected to be done?
    6. What is the most current status of the order? That is, the thing it needs immediately before further processing?
    7. Who is in charge of processing current steps with the order? Perhaps multiple people.
    8. Can orders be auto-tagged when certain conditions are met, or certain products involved. For example X product always need customizing, so it could be auto tagged with certain processes or todo right away.

    At the end of the day, all of that is just a whole lot of notes. They could be statuses, or categories, or tags, or text fields. As long as the software makes if VERY easy to see at a glance what orders need what, what they are pending on, what's happening, etc.
    The boss wants a constant overview of all pending orders like "12 orders need that thing, 8 orders need that, 3 orders are waiting on that PO, 12 orders are out for customizing at X vendor", etc etc etc. Customizable views for employees so each one can see the set of filters and tags most relevant to them.

    Again, a lot of this can be accomplished simply with a robust set of tagging and categorizing and notes.

    I don't believe we need full ERP suites with accounting and CRM to accomplish this. All this is, is a bit of enhancement on top of order processing before going to fulfillment. Once we establish "all the things are now allocated and in stock", the order moves on for fulfillment and shipping through something like ShipStation or just the Stamps and UPS software. If they are combined, that's what I'm looking for.

    ShipStation is really meant for "those people who ship". What I'm looking for, is more like, something all employees use to process orders, take notes when customers contact us, make changes, etc.



  • I've personally always had a hard time knowing when it was the right move to bail on a current solution and move whole sale to another to provide myself the best solution. But then I've never been a big business either.

    From what I've seen posted here, it sounds like your company needs to migrate away from BigC to a different product that gives you want you want. You're currently paying $1600/month of that, toss in another $400-500 for the added features and you're now at $2100/month total new single product better integration, etc.

    it's all about getting management to understand that at the end of the pain, the payoff will be huge.



  • @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @pchiodo
    Ya that's never going to happen.
    We ship around 500 orders a month. It's just enough for us to handle "manually" without needing a full ERP.

    A product like ShipStation is perfectly suitable for our warehouse to get packages out. Where it fails is one step back, at the order management level. We need to do all the things with orders before it's ready to process for shipment.

    This involves nothing more than good "notes" as far as most of us are concerned.

    1. When did order get placed?
    2. What products were in stock? Are they now pulled/allocated?
    3. If not in stock, are they on order? If so, connected to what PO from what vendor? When can we expect delivery?
    4. Does a line item need customization? If so do we have it out yet? Where? When expected to return? Are we waiting for a PO AND customizing?
    5. Does a line item require customer to send US something? If so, have they sent it? Have we received it? Is it out for assembly or customizing? When is it expected to be done?
    6. What is the most current status of the order? That is, the thing it needs immediately before further processing?
    7. Who is in charge of processing current steps with the order? Perhaps multiple people.
    8. Can orders be auto-tagged when certain conditions are met, or certain products involved. For example X product always need customizing, so it could be auto tagged with certain processes or todo right away.

    At the end of the day, all of that is just a whole lot of notes. They could be statuses, or categories, or tags, or text fields. As long as the software makes if VERY easy to see at a glance what orders need what, what they are pending on, what's happening, etc.
    The boss wants a constant overview of all pending orders like "12 orders need that thing, 8 orders need that, 3 orders are waiting on that PO, 12 orders are out for customizing at X vendor", etc etc etc. Customizable views for employees so each one can see the set of filters and tags most relevant to them.

    Again, a lot of this can be accomplished simply with a robust set of tagging and categorizing and notes.

    I don't believe we need full ERP suites with accounting and CRM to accomplish this. All this is, is a bit of enhancement on top of order processing before going to fulfillment. Once we establish "all the things are now allocated and in stock", the order moves on for fulfillment and shipping through something like ShipStation or just the Stamps and UPS software. If they are combined, that's what I'm looking for.

    ShipStation is really meant for "those people who ship". What I'm looking for, is more like, something all employees use to process orders, take notes when customers contact us, make changes, etc.

    It sounds like you need a small Access, or other DB with an active dashboard. I cannot think of a package that would do what you're asking. If you can define the full scope of your needs, you can probably get it programmed within your budget.

    I would guess, that once you deploy an initial solution, the boss will ask for 20 other things he didn't tell you about.



  • The budget is always a concern.

    Previously they used a shopping cart costing only about $400/m. The cart allowed custom order statuses so all orders could have arbitrary statuses, but only one status at a time. This was barely useful, but worked. All vendors/POs are still managed by friggin spreadsheets in Box.

    Our new BigCommerce Enterprise blows the previous cart out of the water, but does NOT have custom statuses or tags of any kind. It's already taking us from $400/m to $1600/m just for the cart alone.

    That hit the boss hard, so now I'm going to ask for another $500 to $6000 a month for some over developed ERP solution that does 20 cool things we'll never use? They won't go for it! That's just life.

    What really pains me during this whole thing is that we move from an outdated crummy cart that is literally down up to 15 hours a month, to a best-in-class "Enterprise" cart that's 3x as much, yet ONE feature is missing in BigC that is a game changer.
    In management's eyes, this one feature is YUUUGE, and thus makes BigC seems like the inferior product in their eyes, cause not only did it cost 3x more, but now I have to pay even MORE to use another piece of software to try and get back that one missing feature.

    All of this is just so ugly. They are used to the shopping cart essentially handling everything. Now that we are bigger, the company can't run off just a shopping cart, but they still think it can. Always asking for a better cart, for better price, with more and more back office features.



  • @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    The budget is always a concern.

    It's IT, it's the context of our lives.



  • @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    The budget is always a concern.

    That is a large part of the problem right there.

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    Our new BigCommerce Enterprise blows the previous cart out of the water, but does NOT have custom statuses or tags of any kind. It's already taking us from $400/m to $1600/m just for the cart alone.

    Sounds like a wrong decision was made here to begin with. Why buy in on a product that does not do what is needed?

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    That hit the boss hard, so now I'm going to ask for another $500 to $6000 a month for some over developed ERP solution that does 20 cool things we'll never use? They won't go for it! That's just life.

    No, that is not life, it is bad management. Also you are already against any new solution claiming it is over developed. You are not even open to new ideas at this point.

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    What really pains me during this whole thing is that we move from an outdated crummy cart that is literally down up to 15 hours a month, to a best-in-class "Enterprise" cart that's 3x as much, yet ONE feature is missing in BigC that is a game changer.
    In management's eyes, this one feature is YUUUGE, and thus makes BigC seems like the inferior product in their eyes, cause not only did it cost 3x more, but now I have to pay even MORE to use another piece of software to try and get back that one missing feature.

    Again this is a management mistake. The product should have never been purchased if it did not do what was needed.



  • @JaredBusch

    Based Jared!



  • @JaredBusch

    @JaredBusch said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    That is a large part of the problem right there.

    It always is. Money doesn't grow off the walls around here.

    @JaredBusch said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    Sounds like a wrong decision was made here to begin with. Why buy in on a product that does not do what is needed?

    It did 80 other things we wanted. No other solution could be found with the right mix of features.

    @JaredBusch said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    No, that is not life, it is bad management. Also you are already against any new solution claiming it is over developed. You are not even open to new ideas at this point.

    You mean management, not myself. I am far more aware of the temperament of the business owner than you are. If I walk in and say, well it's time to get rid of quickbooks, spreadsheets, printed papers, shopping cart, shipping software, cloud accounts, and EVERY method and process you've developed over the last 10 years running this business, and buy this all-in-one thing for $5000 a month to run the whole company. I will immediately be fired.

    The expectation here is that "boss wants X", everybody must deliver X at the price they want. If not, temper tantrums. They will start looking for somebody else who WILL deliver what they want.

    @JaredBusch said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    Again this is a management mistake. The product should have never been purchased if it did not do what was needed.

    Nonsense. It's entirely possible that NO software exactly meets every requirement. We have to settle on getting as close as possible within budget and time constraints.
    The requirement was "our shopping cart sucks, we need a new one by November". So I had to find carts, but very few off-the-shelf carts within price range could do what we needed. BigC simply got closest. We went through the trial, the demo, had live sessions, Q&As. But at the end of the day, it's a few features shy, and we have hope that the feature we want is on their near roadmap for development. Choices had to be made.

    The idea was to upgrade the cart, and then switch to better fulfillment software, and then use the features of the fulfillment software to organize and manage the orders, rather than the shopping cart. Hence ShipStation and the like. Hence running in to a bottle neck of fulfillment software at $40-$80/m versus ERM at $1000-$6000/m. Hence I asked in the OP, where is the middle ground? Where is the $200/m software that does ShipStation+few other things? I just can't find it.



  • @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    Nonsense. It's entirely possible that NO software exactly meets every requirement. We have to settle on getting as close as possible within budget and time constraints.

    Now you just have to get management to understand this and be happy with the solution that you have and the additional add ons or whatever that are required.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    Nonsense. It's entirely possible that NO software exactly meets every requirement. We have to settle on getting as close as possible within budget and time constraints.

    Now you just have to get management to understand this and be happy with the solution that you have and the additional add ons or whatever that are required.

    Yes that's the ticket right there.

    I'm just surprised to not find any solutions that fill this particular market, or niche if you will. Makes me want to start a software company!



  • @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @scottalanmiller said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    @guyinpv said in Anybody in online retail and warehousing I need ERP advice:

    Nonsense. It's entirely possible that NO software exactly meets every requirement. We have to settle on getting as close as possible within budget and time constraints.

    Now you just have to get management to understand this and be happy with the solution that you have and the additional add ons or whatever that are required.

    Yes that's the ticket right there.

    I'm just surprised to not find any solutions that fill this particular market, or niche if you will. Makes me want to start a software company!

    I get that feeling all of the time. I can't believe how often people tell me that they can't find any software for a given need.



  • Or that they can but what they find is terrible.


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