Four Reasons Why Dynamics 365 Outperforms Other Distribution ERP Systems

By Mike Mathews | March 28, 2024

Dynamics365 Outperforms Distribution ERP

Dynamics 365 is a very solid distribution ERP system that effectively blends CRM and operations tools, giving you an all-encompassing software solution that covers every aspect of your business.

Why Dynamics 365 Has an Edge on Other Distribution ERPs

In business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, it’s easy—even for consumers—to see the trend toward omnichannel sales and fulfillment. Consumers might not know the term omnichannel, but they expect to be able to interact with their favorite brands and retailers in-store and online, with a seamless experience: Order in-app, pick up in-store; order online, return in-store.

But omnichannel is a new reality not only for retailers but also for business-to-business (B2B) distributors. Whether you’re a wholesaler, manufacturer, or retailer, your distribution business must provide sales across in-person, telecommunications (video and phone calls), and online, self-service channels. Your B2B customers want to see product availability and pricing online, and they want to place orders on their smartphones—but they still want to know their sales rep’s name and have a personal relationship.

With a background of an intensely competitive global marketplace and supply chain instability, companies across the distribution industry recognize the need for enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions that integrate business systems from supply chain and warehouse operations to managing invoicing and supplier relationships.

Omnichannel operations only escalate the need to digitize and integrate distribution businesses; ideally, your distribution ERP should connect to your customer relationship management (CRM) software, too.

Distribution ERP Systems: The Major Players

Most ERP solutions cover the basic functions that distribution businesses are looking for, so if you’re shopping for ERP software for a wholesale distribution company, you have to dig a bit deeper to find the best fit.

Dynamics 365 Business Central—a cloud-based solution for SMBs—covers both ERP and limited CRM functions.

Distribution ERP Differentiators: Why Dynamics 365 Stands Out

There are plenty of characteristics of the major ERP solutions that are the same, at least on the surface. Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and Infor all offer on-premise and cloud-based software as well as software-as-a-service delivery. And they all cover the basic functions you need in a distribution ERP.

But there are differentiators—factors that mean everything in an omnichannel world that demands real-time supply chain insights, automated warehouse operations, streamlined inventory management, and optimized order fulfillment.

Microsoft’s deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) throughout its business applications and cloud platform—including machine learning, digital twins, and generative AI–powered low/no-code tools—gives it an edge over the competition.

Let’s look at four examples.

1. AI for Demand Forecasting

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management was already a leading ERP option for distribution businesses, but this year, Microsoft released new tools for creating a customized, composable, 21st-century supply chain:

  • Microsoft Supply Chain Platform facilitates connections between Microsoft services like Dynamics 365, Azure, Teams, and Power Platform so you can develop a supply chain that meets your specific needs. The Microsoft Dataverse provides data connectors that enable integration with virtually any data source—for example, connecting to vendor data for upstream supply chain insights.
  • Microsoft Supply Chain Center (in preview) is a central command post for integrated supply chain data—not only from Dynamics 365, but also from other distribution ERP providers.

To optimize inventory levels and streamline your omnichannel sales and distribution efforts, accurate demand forecasting is a must. Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management offers at least a dozen forecasting models, including AI-powered algorithms you can use out of the box to dial in demand predictions with greater accuracy.

The demand planning feature uses built-in outlier detection technology in data preprocessing to further enhance forecasts. And you can use Azure Machine Learning to customize your forecasting strategy based on your products and markets.

2. Advanced Warehouse Automation

If you want to reduce labor costs, streamline order fulfillment, or maintain tighter inventory management, Dynamics 365 provides warehouse automation tools for the job.

Advanced warehousing features allow you to optimize warehouse configurations and automate how items are listed for put-away or picking to maximize operational efficiency. Go paperless by using a browser or mobile app–based pick and pack system that guides workers to each product or integrate with manufacturing execution system (MES) software to implement a robotic warehouse.

3. Omnichannel Order Management

In competitive B2C markets, time to customer can make or break sales—and with omnichannel becoming the norm in B2B contexts, it’s not just retailers that need to think about omnichannel fulfillment. Visibility of product availability and accurate delivery estimates are important not only for your own inventory management but also for buyers, who are now demanding that information.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management combines real-time inventory tracking with state-of-the-art AI to direct how orders should be filled, automatically apply adaptations to fulfillment constraints, and keep customers satisfied with accurate information and on-time deliveries. Built-in connectors to CRM software, third-party logistics (3PL) providers, and existing ERP solutions make Dynamics 365 endlessly flexible and adaptable for distribution businesses.

4. UX and Mobile Experience

Dynamics 365 stands out from its competition in terms of user experience (UX) and mobility. Ease of use factors heavily into return on investment for a distribution ERP, and today’s business software needs to be accessible anywhere and across multiple device types. The Dynamics 365 interface borrows from the familiar world of Microsoft 365 applications like Outlook and Excel, softening the learning curve for user adoption and facility.

Dynamics 365 is already cloud-based, browser-accessed software, which means you can access it on any device. But features like the native Warehouse Management mobile app in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management extend and enhance the mobile experience. In addition, with minimal (or no) coding and natural language commands, you can use Microsoft Power Apps to create mobile apps that connect to your data and fill unique in-house needs.

Partner With Stoneridge Software for Your Dynamics 365 Distribution ERP

These four reasons why Dynamics 365 beats the competition in the

ERP marketplace is only the tip of the iceberg. You need an ERP provider that’s stable, secure, and supported. Microsoft isn’t just a software provider; it’s also one of the top two providers of cloud infrastructure in the world.

In cloud-based ERP deployments, Microsoft bears much of the burden of securing your business data. And through Microsoft’s network of partners, you have access to unparalleled support.

Stoneridge Software implements Dynamics 365–based distribution ERP solutions for companies across a wide range of industries—like the solution we crafted for FORCE America. As a Microsoft Inner Circle Partner, Stoneridge has acknowledged expertise in creating systems that give distribution businesses an edge in a digitized, information-driven, 21st-century marketplace.

Want to Learn More About How Dynamics 365 Can Enhance Your Distribution Processes?

Our services reach beyond your launch date—we provide ongoing training and support to ensure your system meets your needs today and tomorrow. To learn more about partnering with Stoneridge, contact us today.

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