Article | June 21, 2023
Purchasing software and supply chain management software are often mistaken for one another, but both have distinct functionalities. While purchasing software automates the procurement process, supply chain management software executes logistical transactions and manages supplier relationships. This report identifies the similarities and differences between the two software categories to help you understand which one is better suited to your needs.
What is purchasing software?
Purchasing software is an online tool that allows businesses to automate the process of procuring goods and services. It includes security compliance and reporting features.
Purchasing solutions offer integrated tools for invoice approval, inventory control, asset management, customer service, and work order management. They help manage contracts, analyze spending, track sales deliveries, and monitor inventory levels. They also assist in identifying bottlenecks in the purchase process, such as functions that have high expenditure.
Purchasing software offers invoice processing capabilities as well. Procurement professionals and accounting teams can use the tool to generate invoices, track invoice status, and monitor expenses via detailed reports.
What is supply chain management software?
Supply chain management software is a software platform that allows supply chain managers to automate the entire supply chain process—from acquiring raw materials to delivering the finished goods to consumers. The software provides tools for monitoring stock levels, including raw materials, and predicting future requirements based on the current inflow and outflow of inventory.
Supply chain management tools manage material handling, order fulfillment, and information tracking for stakeholders such as manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers. They also track the returns of damaged goods, process refunds and insurance claims, and provide planning and forecasting tools for supply chain professionals.
What do they have in common?
Purchasing is a crucial component of supply chain management. Together, these processes significantly contribute to an organization’s procurement cycle. Despite the functionality differences, both the software categories have a few features in common, including supplier management, order management, and forecasting.
Which tool is right for you?
The answer to this question depends on your use case. If you’re looking for a tool that majorly focuses on acquiring supplies, opt for a purchasing software solution, as it will help you streamline the procurement cycle, maintain purchase order accuracy, and monitor supplier activities. However, if you wish to manage your entire supply chain operations, including supplier, transportation, warehouse, and inventory management, then investing in a supply chain software solution would be the right choice.
Warehousing and Distribution
Article | July 11, 2023
Explore the techniques to improve warehousing and distribution centre. Learn from the best books of logistics and distribution management and enhance warehousing operations and distribution processes.
Efficient warehouse management is crucial in the complex world of distribution and logistics. With various warehouse types serving different purposes, warehouse managers are responsible for ensuring smooth operations, safeguarding valuable goods, and optimizing supply chain units. Building a strong knowledge base is key, and the best way to start is by delving into the top warehouse management books. This article presents a curated list of essential reads that will provide you with a solid foundation in the warehouse and distribution field. From understanding fundamentals to exploring cutting-edge practices, these books help in better decision-making regarding warehousing and distribution operations.
1. Fundamentals of Warehousing & Distribution
Author Name: Material Handling Industry
Fundamentals of Warehousing & Distribution is an essential book for professionals in the warehousing and distribution industry. Published as part of the MHI Career & Technical Education Program, this series of four warehouse management books provides comprehensive knowledge on material handling equipment, information technology tools, and warehouse operations. Volume 1 serves as a foundational guide, introducing readers to modern warehouses and distribution centers' equipment, processes, and operations. With its focus on practical knowledge and industry best practices, this warehouse and distribution book provides readers with the skills and expertise necessary for successful warehouse and distribution management.
2. Warehousing and Distribution Practices
Author Name: xu ji ying
Divided into two parts, Warehousing and Distribution Practices covers seven key areas of the real-world processes for managing storage and implementation of effective distribution strategies. This distribution management book focus on essential knowledge and skills, each section provides valuable insights through logistics standard terms, case studies, knowledge links, and practical application. As one of the best books on logistics and distribution management, it will give you the complete step-by-step guidance to expand and improve warehousing and distribution centre by leveraging the theory shared by xu ji ying.
3. Warehousing And Distribution Management Project Type Tutorial
Author Name: Wang Yu
Warehousing and Distribution Management Project Type Tutorial, a logistics and supply chain management book, revolutionize logistics education with its innovative approach. This comprehensive book goes beyond traditional teaching methods, immersing readers in real-world scenarios and practical projects. Through eleven immersive teaching projects and thirty-two dynamic learning tasks, readers gain hands-on experience in system planning, business management, quality control, inventory operations, technology application, and more. Developed in collaboration with industry experts, this tutorial bridges the gap between theory and practice, empowering logistics professionals to navigate the complexities of warehouse and distribution management. With its unique project-based structure, this warehousing and distribution book delivers a transformative learning experience for aspiring logistics and supply chain industry leaders.
4. Fundamentals of Warehousing & Distribution: Volume 3
Author Name: MHI
Fundamentals of Warehousing & Distribution, a logistics and supply chain management book revolutionizes how logistics professionals perceive warehouses. By delving into captivating case study examples, this book unveils the intricacies of different warehouse configurations, showcasing how cutting-edge equipment and technologies empower diverse order fulfilment strategies. It challenges conventional wisdom by emphasizing that warehouses are no longer mere storage spaces; they have transformed into dynamic hubs that efficiently cater to a wide range of order types, from bulk shipments to individual products. With its ground-breaking insights and practical applications, this volume is a game-changer for industry experts seeking to elevate their warehousing and distribution management skills.
5. Warehouse Distribution and Operations Handbook
Author Name: David Mulcahy
Optimize warehouse operations with this warehouse and distribution management book, Warehouse Distribution and Operations Handbook. With a focus on improving inventory management, reducing costs and enhancing customer experiences, this handbook offers best practices, methods, equipment applications and technologies to utilize in different warehouse and distribution centres. Whether it's industrial, mail-order, or retail facilities, this comprehensive logistics and distribution management book provides the knowledge and strategies to drive profitability and control assets. It is an essential resource for anyone in the logistics industry looking to master distribution management and excel in warehouse operations.
6. Warehouse and Distribution Centre
Author and Editor Name: Robert Mulder & Michiel Kobussen
The warehouse and Distribution Centre is a valuable resource for logistics professionals and architects navigating the evolving landscape of warehouse design. This distribution management book addresses designers' pressing challenges, including cost control, technical requirements, and safety considerations. It offers a comprehensive system of theories, guidelines, and design standards, accompanied by a diverse collection of global warehouse and distribution centre projects. Balancing both the ends of practical reference and inspirational examples, this best book for distribution management equips readers with the knowledge and insights needed to create efficient, innovative, and sustainable warehouse and distribution solutions. It is a must-read for anyone involved in warehousing and distribution management.
7. Warehousing and Distribution Operation Practice
Author Name: peng jian cheng
Rooted in practical vocational education, Warehousing and Distribution Operation Practice is a book that emphasizes integrating theoretical knowledge with functional operations. It provides a hands-on approach to learning, enabling readers to apply their knowledge directly in real-world scenarios. This warehousing and distribution book will give you the required skills and expertise to optimize operational efficiency. With the help of practices shared by peng jian in the warehouse management book, readers will get insights into supply chain management and logistics operations. In addition, it will not only help in improving the processes in the warehouse and distribution but also enhance the overall business.
8. Operations and Supply Chain Management Essentials You Always Wanted to Know
Author Name: Vibrant Publishers & Ashley McDonough
Overcome the complexities of supply chain management and warehouse operations with Operations and Supply Chain Management Essentials You Always Wanted to Know. This engaging book takes you on a captivating journey through the interconnected world of logistics, unveiling the significance of every step in the process. Through a compelling narrative centred around a fictional company and its consumer product, you'll explore the challenges, decisions, and adaptations supply chain professionals face. Gain a deep understanding of supply chain operations, from disruptive forces to practical applications, and discover the importance of interactive business domains.
9. Start your Own Wholesale Distribution Business
Author Name: The Staff of Entrepreneur Media & Christopher Matthew Spencer
Embark on a lucrative journey in the distribution industry with 'Start Your Own Wholesale Distribution Business.' This comprehensive guide, crafted by the experts at Entrepreneur Media, equips you with the essential steps to establish a thriving wholesale operation from the comfort of your home. Discover the art of being an intermediary, connecting manufacturers and retailers to reap profits. Uncover industry-specific strategies, secure funding, identify profitable niches, forge valuable partnerships, and effectively market your business. With insights from experienced wholesale distributors, sample forms, checklists, and worksheets, this warehousing and distribution book is your roadmap to mastering the world of distribution and logistics.
10. Warehouse Management: The Definitive Guide to Improving Efficiency and Minimizing Costs in the Morden Warehouse
Author Name: Gwynne Richards
Discover one of the best books for logistics management in the modern era with 'Warehouse Management: The Definitive Guide to Improving Efficiency and Minimizing Costs in the Modern Warehouse.' This extensively updated fourth edition delves into the latest technologies, such as robotics, cobots, and AI, revolutionizing warehouse operations. Author Gwynne Richards offers expert insights and realistic solutions to optimize warehouse performance and improve efficiency. This effective distribution management book provides strategies and environmental initiatives to ensure a sustainable supply chain. Packed with real case studies and online resources, this book is an essential resource for distribution and logistics professionals.
Warehousing and distribution books have been a valuable resource for reference in the logistics field. While this compilation is not exhaustive, it offers a robust selection of warehouse management books that can effectively address various related challenges. Whether seeking insights into warehouse and transportation management or exploring other facets of supply chain management, logistics management, and procurement, the knowledge gained will be a worthwhile investment for future decision-making.
Warehousing and Distribution
Article | July 17, 2023
A sector which has been heavily disrupted in the last years is the mobility sector. Following decades of "car being king", we have reached a saturation and mentality shift. People want to be more healthy and more ecological (sustainable) and also avoid losing precious time in traffic jams. As a result a whole eco-system of companies has been created to find solutions for this.
This article tries to provide an overview of the trends in this market, with a focus on the Belgian market.
First of all when looking at mobility and the offers on the market it is important to make a distinction between private and professional displacements. This last category can additionally be split up between the daily commute and professional displacements during working hours.
When looking at private mobility (the so-called B2C market), the car remains an important pilar. Especially for families with (young) children it remains difficult to do everything without a car. Obviously, there is a trend to be more sustainable, which is reflected in more sales of hybrid and electric vehicles, more usage of (e)bikes and (e)steps and an increasing usage of shared mobility options (like shared bikes, steps or cars).
Statistics from China, which is already the furthest in the post-Covid era, show that most mobility options have lost terrain (compared to pre-Covid), with the exception of the car and bike. The car, although still not very sustainable, is still the most flexible and has the least chance for contamination. Especially the flexibility will become more important as office hours also become more flexible. Additionally due to the increased home working, in some cities traffic jams have considerably reduced, making room again for more people to switch back from public transport to their car.
Additionally there is the bike. This is a very flexible, individual, healthy and sustainable mode of transportation that many have discovered during the crisis. Furthermore with ebikes becoming more and more common, bigger distances can be covered without needing to be in excellent physical shape.
The professional mobility (i.e. B2B(2C) market) is however even more in evolution, as governments provide all kinds of fiscal incentives to change the mobility habits of employees and employers. Furthermore employers want to offer more flexibility (in working hours, in working location and in mobility options) and less administrative burden to their employees, allow them to profit from those fiscal incentives (resulting in an increased buying power) and become more sustainable.
As a result a variety of new offers to be more flexible and optimally profit of those extra-legal advantages has come to the market. This makes it very complex for an employer to find his way in this tangle.
Obviously, every company is unique, with multiple axes determining which mobility options are possible and best suited for the company:
The location of the company, i.e. Is the company situated in a city with a lot of mobility difficulties (traffic jams)? Is the company situated near public transport options? Is the company situated in a city where a lot of shared mobility options are available? Are the employees typically living close or far away from the company? Which kind of parking facilities does the company have? Does the company have multiple offices geographically spread over the country?
The type of work done at the company, i.e. Does the work require physical presence at a specific location (i.e. time- and location-dependent work)? Is remote work possible? Does the work require a lot of displacements to customers (and/or partners, suppliers…) during working hours?
The type of employees working at the firm, i.e. Are the employees typically living close or far away from the company? What is the age distribution of the employees within the company (e.g. lot of young people, lot of employees with children…)? How strong is the war for talent for the desired employees, forcing the employer to offer a lot of extra advantages to attract people?
The size of the company, i.e. a bigger company has the means to setup more complex mobility plans/options, as they often have dedicated people within HR specialized in these setups.
This makes it difficult to define a "one-solution-that-fits-all" approach, but rather a more tailored approach is required, with some degree of customization per customer.
Promoting commuting by bike via bike leasing and a bike allowance is mainly interesting for companies with employees not living too far away from the company and not requiring doing customer or other professional displacements during working hours. Additionally it depends on the profile of the employees and the safety of the trajectory between the home of the employees and the office. Note that 54% of Belgian employees does not want to use a bike to come to work, with the main reason people finding it too dangerous. At the other hand a similar percentage of employees indicates they would be very interested in options like bike leasing and bike allowances.
Shared mobility options are of course only interesting in the bigger cities, where those options are also strongly available. As a result incorporating those options in a mobility plan does not make much sense when the employer is situated in a location where those options are (almost) not available.
The same applies for "multi-modal transportation" (and the associated multi-modal route planners), which are also only interesting in the larger cities where multiple mobility options are readily available. Furthermore a company introducing this multi-modal mobility concept should be able to put a whole change management trajectory in place, as it requires discovering new mobility options and changing existing commute habits (for most employees the commute is a routine activity, which they do in "auto-pilot")
Setting up a Cafeteria plan or Mobility budget can be quite complex, making the costs and effort, especially for smaller firms, not always outweigh the benefits. New digital solutions can provide a (partial) solution to this, but they typically do not take away the uncertainties for employers to deal with something they do not fully understand.
Electric cars are still difficult for people doing large distances on a regular basis, due to their limited action radius and the too low number of charging stations (especially in the South of Belgium). On the other hand for companies where employees come to the office the whole day and that have the required space to setup charging stations, this can be a very interesting option both fiscally and ecologically.
Collective organized transport is typically only economically viable for large companies, for which a large number of employees are coming from the same region. Platforms exist to manage this cross-employers, but this raises a number of other concerns and reduces the added-value.
Options like "no-mobility" (i.e. home working) and "less-mobility" (flex-offices / co-working places) depend on the work culture and the type of work to be done. For some companies the shift to homeworking during the Covid-confinements was already a serious stretch, which will take years to get fully absorbed. Introducing new concepts like "flex-offices" (co-working places) is probably a bridge too far, especially as there is still a lot of unclarity of who will be paying (and what the fiscal implications are) for the office space (employee paying out of his mobility budget or employer paying) and even more for the added-services like drinks, snacks, catering…
In general employers have a big interest to do something around mobility, but when having to deal with all complexity (fiscal and operational concerns like policies, load administration…), many employers drop out. Employers fear especially all exceptions, as they often represent hidden costs and lot of extra effort. E.g. what happens if an employee leaves the company? What if someone is fired? What about the liability in case of accidents/theft/vandalism? What will be the exact total cost for me as an employer? How do I need to manage VAT? What is the exact value of benefit of all kind for the employee? Which proofs do I need to collect for the tax authorities? Does it fit with the agreements made in the collective labor agreement of the joint committee?…
These questions mainly originate from the existing unclarities in the fiscal regime, which is due to the fact that many HR managers are not yet acquainted with these new offers, the fact that new mobility offers are created continuously (making it impossible for the government to stay up-to-date) and the continuous change in regulation (e.g. "Mobility Budget", "Company Car Legislation"…).
This lack of maturity in the industry puts a break on the adoption and this maturation might take years to unfold. E.g. meal vouchers took 40 years to arrive to a market penetration of 50%, while this is a much simpler HR product than most mobility options. Until this maturity level is reached, resulting in more well-known, better integrated, more frictionless and cheaper offers, the traditional company mobility options of reimbursing public transport subscriptions and salary cars will remain mostly used. Those are still most widely known by HR managers, are fiscally still very interesting and fit well the needs and desires of most employees.
This last argument is important, as no mobility option will become mainstream unless employees are happy with it. This means the mobility option should not only give a solution for "Professional displacements" but also for the "Private displacements" (in evenings, weekend, holidays…), often with the whole family.
Nonetheless we see the market is maturing and transforming, as millions of euros of VC money are invested in promising new start-ups. Almost all of those start-ups are not profitable yet but given the market potential a few of them could grow out to become unicorns. Today’s students are more acquainted and open for these new mobility services, so likely some of them will become mainstream in the next decade.
Today a whole eco-system of young start-ups and existing incumbent players are offering mobility services, like
Car leasing companies: Alphabet, ALD Automotive, ING Lease, KBC Autolease, LeasePlan, ARVAL…
Car rental companies: Sixt, Avis, Dockx, Hertz, Rent a car…
Car sharing companies (in the form of cars that can be easily used for individual trips up to platforms facilitating sharing your private car or co-driving): Cambio, Poppy, Partago, Zipcar, Cozywheels, Getaround, Dégage, Share Now, Stapp.in, Tapazz, BlaBlaCar, Klaxit, TooGethr, Carpool (Mpact)…
Taxi services: Uber, Wave-a-Cab, Taxi.eu, Heetch, Bolt, Free Now, Allocab…
Bike leasing companies: Ctec, O2O, Joulebikes, KBC-Fietsleasing, B2Bike, Cyclis, Lease-a-bike, Cyclobility, Cycle Valley…
(e)bike, (e)step and scooter sharing & renting: Lime, Dott, Bird, Felyx, Scooty, Villo!, Billy Bike, Mobit, Blue Bike, Swapfiets, Spinlister…
Fuel card and Electric charging card issuing companies: Network Fuel Card, Modalizy, Fleetpass, Belgian Fuel Card (BFC), XXImo, EDI (Electric by D’Ieteren), New Motion, Plugsurfing, Blue Corner, Luminus, EVBOX, Cenergy, Eneco, Dats24, EV-Point,…
Parking companies (either companies providing public parkings or platforms to share individual and company parkings): Yellowbrick, Indigo, QPark, BeMobile, BePark, Pasha, ParkOffice…
Companies helping to define mobility plan and manage setup of policies and mobility plans/budgets: Social Secretariats (SD Worx, Partena, Securex, Acerta, Liantis…), Payflip, Mbrella, MaestroMobile (Espaces-Mobilités)…
MaaS (Mobility as a Service) players: Modalizy, Skipr, Optimile, Olympus, Be-Mobile, MyMove, Vaigo (Eurides), Moveasy…
(Inter-modal) Route planners: Google Maps, Coyote, Waze, Mappy, Jeasy, Skipr, Stoomlink…
Co-working place companies (either companies providing co-working places or platforms allowing to reserve spaces over multiple co-working places): Bar d’Office, Workero, Cowallonia, Burogest, Regus, Welkin, Meraki, Frame 21, Fosbury & Sons, Start it, Coffice, Spaces, House of Innovation, Ampla House, WeWork, Betacowork, Startbloc, SilverSquare…
Expense management solutions for local and international (mobility) expenses: Rydoo, XXImo, MobileXpense, N2F, Certify, SAP Concur, Travel Perk, Trippeo, SpenDesk, Splendid, Declaree, SRXP, Dicom, WebExpenses, Notilus, Expensify, ExpensePath, Abacus, ExpensePoint…
It will be interesting to see which of those companies will still be around in 10 years (i.e. which of the start-up have sufficient funding to bridge the long-time gap to profitability) and to which form they have evolved. Clearly regular pivoting will be required as this market is in full evolution.