Customer Forecasting

Do you need to get a better handle on predicting your purchases or production for the products you sell? Many customers still work on the traditional method of visiting the stores and just filling the shelves to the maximum capacity. The drawback on this is that you never know how much has been sold so you don’t know how much to bring along in the truck. This leads to the potential of carrying too much inventory on the truck and over production which in turn leads to product going bad.

Many distributors, particularly those that produce fresh goods like bread and tortillas have been using the method of Forecasting the need for the products they will deliver. This has the advantage of getting the right amount of product to the stores without having either a shortage or excess of product.

It works like this – as the drivers make their delivery, they also allow the system to record how much product is still on the shelves.  Then, it records any returns being made.

When the system sends this information back to the server, it can then be used by the bMobile Forecasting add-in to create a suggested order for the next delivery. It takes all of the data gathered plus looks at the previous sales and returns over the period of time you specify to determine these numbers.

In addition, it gives your drivers control to adjust those numbers as you see fit so they can manage the forecast from the field. There might be a store special or other need for a number that is different that what was forecasted.

When combining the forecast with the lead days you can get your drivers dialed in on the numbers you need to keep your inventory ‘just in time’ and profitable!

bMobile will be attending the IBIE tradeshow on September 8th through the 11th and will be ready to discuss your forecasting needs. Come see us at booth #171 and we can show you how forecasting will improve your inventory control!

Backups, Disaster Recovery, and Crypto-Locking

These days everyone has a computer or an entire computer network to help them do their jobs. Those computers are like any other tool and should be maintained and protected regularly. And as we all know, disaster strikes when we are thinking the least about it. Just remember, when this strikes, your company will be hit with possible data loss, downtime for employees and your business, and financial losses. In many cases, companies that don’t have anything in place often just close up in the face of disaster.

Security

Most everyone knows that you should make backups, and some folks might have even heard of the concept of disaster recovery. But recently, more scary things have been showing up on the news – crypto-locking. These attacks seem to rise alongside the value of Bitcoin and target businesses. This newest trend is where a hacker takes control over your system and encrypts the entire system. Then they will contact you and offer to unlock your system for a fee, usually paid in Bitcoins.  

For most people, the idea of having to buy Bitcoins just to get your own information back is daunting. And there are no guarantees that if you pay the fee that the hackers won’t just take the money and run. We’ve seen ransoms of anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. It all depends on what the hackers think that you are worth.

Here at bMobile, we’ve ran into a handful of these cases in the last few years. It doesn’t happen that often, but if it does happen the best thing you can do is to have a plan in place and be prepared to execute it. You should also either already have an IT staff in place or a contract for an outside IT firm so you don’t have to deal with finding someone in the middle of your disaster.

Virus protection software is also a critical piece of the puzzle. It can make a huge difference running regular scans on your network. In addition, make sure you stay current on patches for your operating systems – flaws and vulnerabilities are addressed with these patches.

To start, make sure you are creating a daily backup. This backup should include all databases and files that are critical to your company’s operations. More importantly, this backup should be stored off-site, preferably in the cloud. There are several benefits to this including making sure the backup is not corrupted by the hackers as well as for disaster recovery. Not all catastrophic events are hacker related. Sometimes Mother Nature throws hurricanes, tornados, floods, and fire into the mix. We’ve seen all of these happen to our clients over the years.

Once you have a good backup in a place you can access, practice restoring it to make sure you can do so when the time comes. In the case of the crypto-locking scenario, you will be able to pinpoint that last good backup before it happened and restore your system to that point. You may wind up losing a day’s worth of work, but it is much better than the other option of paying a large sum of money that may unlock only some or most of your files and usually only after more time is lost while you wait.

When something like this occurs, it is also useful to have your IT staff figure out the point where the hackers got in. Many times it is as simple as a bogus email that has a link in it that once clicked, triggers the process the hackers use to encrypt your system.

Discuss with your staff best practices around opening suspicious emails, not visiting unapproved web sites, and being ‘cyber-aware’. These days, a little common sense and healthy skepticism can make all the difference between having your doors open for business. If you would like to discuss plans for keeping your systems safe and want to get our take on what you should be doing, please give us a call and we’ll be glad to talk to you!

Call: 1+(888) 900-5667

Email: info@bmobileroute.com

Bill Backs From Direct Store Delivery (DSD) and How to Account For Them Easily

When you receive a check from a major chain store, or potentially not even a major store, you may notice that they have taken credits for what would be considered a bill back. This is for things like marketing, shelf space rental, promotions, and more. These can be hard to calculate ahead of time and most of the time you don’t know about them until you receive the check. You have two ways to account for these.

1. The Long Way - Create a credit for the same amount for an item that is, to the best of your knowledge, categorized for financial reporting purpose via an item on the system. This method is the most transparent and best for reporting purposes. For example, you can run a report on how many times you have credited “Marketing Bill Back” to Safeway Store #454.

2. The Short Way - Discount one or many invoices as you are entering the payment and classify the discount from a general ledger perspective. However, there are a couple of hiccups.

  • If the credits are larger than any one invoice, you will have to spread it out over multiples due to the fact that there is only one discount per invoice.
  • Reporting is less transparent, but the financial impact is taken care of quicker.

bMobile Route Software has made it easy to accomplish either of these methods at a parent (corporate) level or child (store) level. 

This is part of the fun of being in this market and we are glad to help win and keep these accounts with our DSD companies.

Vendors and How to Service Your Clients While Representing Different Companies

Today we'd like to talk about how distributors handle the challenge of having multiple lines of product. Most distributors deal with a wide range of products but are also required to manage those sales and report that information back to the companies from where they purchased the product.

When making those deliveries, they are also often asked to "do business as" or appear to their clients to be that company they are representing with those products. For instance, they may need to create invoices under their own business when delivering one line of product, but when they deliver another line of product, they may need to create an invoice for that manufacturer or whoever they contracted with to handle the delivery side.

In these cases, those invoices need to have different header information (name, address, phone, website, etc.) and unique logos. It is entirely possible that the distributor may not even handle the accounts receivable on those particular deliveries.

If this is the situation that you face in your business, bMobile has a solution for you! Part of the feature set in bMobile Route Manager allows you to assign vendors and vendor classes. This feature can be set up in order to produce unique invoices separate from your normal invoice. You can assign either customers or inventory items to these classes to assure that you are creating the right invoice under the right circumstances.

These features and several more give power to using vendors in bMobile. Whether you need to "roll up" your sales information to your accounting or not show it at all on your books, using vendors is a powerful tool to controlling how your sales are delivered and recorded. If you want to know more about how to utilize vendors in your bMobile Route Manager system, just give us a call and we'll be happy to show you how to get better control over your sales!

Call: 1+(888) 900-5667

Email: info@bmobileroute.com

Need CONSIGNMENT to Grow Your Business?

To push your product into retail store shelf space, many distributors consign products to the retailer, collecting payment after the inventory has sold. The advantage of doing this is the retailer has a low upfront investment typically determined as a pricing arrangement with the distributor to cover lost or stolen products. This makes keeping track of merchandise for each store imperative and could potentially add additional cost to a distributor with managing the consignment process. You need a user-friendly system to handle consignment inventory.

Most accounting/inventory systems don't handle consignment inventory very well because of the nature of the consignment transaction. The product doesn't change ownership at the time of the delivery and requires a manual process to track what each store has, which takes a lot of time and creates opportunities for error. If this process isn't monitored, it can make reconciling your consignment inventory a nightmare.

bMobile Consignment makes it easy for a delivery driver to drop a consignment transaction, easily see at the next scheduled stop for that customer what was left and simply count the remaining items that are on the shelf. The software will automatically calculate what has been sold based on the count and an AR/Invoice transaction is created.

Using specific build-ups and par levels for each store will allow the driver to see what quantities to pick off their truck to process another consignment transaction. All this detail is part of the data communicated back to the office via the bMobile sync. Admin users can run reports for each consignment store, understand how many items each store should have and make accurate business decisions.

First Aid and Safety Supply Delivery - Made Easier With bMobile

With the need for first aid kits and safety products in offices and other workplaces, the demand to deliver these products is increasing. While doing so, you need to keep track of each item as well as pricing and invoices. bMobile offers a solution that reduces the complexity of this process to complete your stops faster.

With bMobile Route Software, you can utilize Kits to manage your customers and supplies. Using a device, you can track the location of each Kit (by customer, for example) and know which items are stocked and which items need to be delivered. You can also manage pricing by customer and product. When it is time to collect a payment, methods such as cash, check, and credit card are all acceptable. From there, you can electronically collect a signature and even print or email invoices with the grand total at the bottom straight to your customers. Due to being handled digitally, these transactions reduce paperwork and processing time.

bMobile Route Software also has the ability to keep track of truck inventory in real-time. With this feature, you have the ability to sell leftover inventory and turn it into revenue. In addition, by keeping transactions and inventory on a device, you can minimize downtime between each route stop and focus more on sales.

Streamlining the route delivery process can be achieved with bMobile Route Software. Being able to track inventory and collect payments from a device can help propel your business by increasing productivity and reducing downtime. This is no exception with the first aid and safety supply industry, which greatly benefits from these features.

Introducing and Discussing the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2

While in the field, you will want to use devices that are durable, long-lasting, and efficient for your needs. With the rapid pace of advancing technology, rugged devices and tablets breaking and growing outdated are growing more frequent. The price of upgrading and purchasing new devices may be costly for your business, and so you want to ensure that your device of choice will last you a long time - but it may be difficult trying to find the right match. In particular, Samsung recently has started to focus on the business world and offer various tablets and devices for these workforces. Today, we would like to talk about the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 and the various features it offers.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 is a rugged tablet that originally released in 2017 in various regions before coming to the United States in 2018. The device’s main focal point lies in its durability, with the tablet being subject to 21 different durability tests, including elements such as drops, high and low temperatures, exposure to water, and more. Whether you work in cold, heat, water, snow, or any other condition, the Active2 will suit your needs.

Despite all of the focus on durability, the tablet has a variety of features to make work more convenient. Some features include a water-resistant pen, facial recognition, and a Glove mode that allows you to work while using protective gear. It is also highly customizable with a variety of apps, software, and accessories. With all of these things in mind, the Active2 can fit right in the workspace of your business.

Some more highlights of the Active2 include:

  • 1.6 GHz Octa-Core processor, 3GB RAM, 16GB Storage
  • Removable Battery
  • IP Rating of 68 (the highest rating of protection and durability!)

Between durability and customization, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 is an efficient device that can fit right in with your business.

The Benefits of Using Standardized Tools

Hello!

This week we thought it would be great to talk about standardization. It is important that the software you use and the companies who support that software use standardized tools.  There are many software solutions out there for many types of uses, but as you look into them it becomes important to recognize the need for strong control over them. In order to achieve this, most use tools that have been accepted by the developers who create them and the staff who supports them.

There are multiple reasons for wanting to control these tools, each with their own benefits. Some of those are:

Support of the manufacturers  – This is probably the biggest reason of all. The manufacturers of the tools used to program such applications at bMobile Route Manager and other tools used to support the application provide their own patches and updates to these tools to keep them up to date. They fix bugs and other issues with their product and assure compatibility with changes to operating systems and the release of new operating systems. In our world, we see constant updates to mobile devices in the form of Android updates. It is important that we have the latest tools to make sure we are ready for any upcoming changes that might impact our application and prevent users from being able to get full use out of it.

Virus scanners and firewalls – We often see applications get shut out by virus scanners and other firewalls, including both hardware like SonicWall and software.  It is important that those tools are controllable by support staff in order to make exceptions for the applications and assure that they will continue to work with these important security measures in place. Well known and widely accepted security tools are the key to making this happen.  Often we see more obscure or lesser known products do damage to applications through the quarantine process. Always check with your application provider before putting a new security tool in use.

Easy to troubleshoot – The more standard a tool used to write an application is, the easier it is for the developers to troubleshoot issues. This also applies to database engines and other components such as the web services used to move data back and forth from device to desktop. E-commerce brings along additional components and the more those are standardized, the more control the end user has over the look and feel.

Recognized ecosystem of other applications and other integration points – In this day and age, users are interested in tying applications together to move data back and forth. Having a recognized tool to do this makes it easier to accomplish these goals and get applications to talk to each other. Having a product like Route Manager with the ability to push and pull data from ERP systems like QuickBooks, NetSuite, or the Sage line of products is invaluable. Users also look to be able to extract key data to do KPI reports and use them in their Business Intelligence (BI) tools to make sound business decisions.

Training users – Having standardized tools makes it easier to train users and also provides the benefit of having a user community that is often available online to help diagnose issues or provide training on the usage of those tools.

All of these reasons are important when considering a software solution. You want to make sure that the provider uses standard tools to create and support the applications. We know that taking a little time to make sure that is in place will pay off in the long run and make your experience a positive one.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Payments

Electronic payments are rapidly becoming a standardized and effective way of taking payments no matter where you are. With the integration of this new method into many business’ daily processes, there are both positive and negative changes that must be considered to determine if electronic payments are right for your business.

Here is what we see as the pros and cons to electronic payments as a whole:

Pros:

  • Pay faster
  • Decrease vulnerability of theft
  • Decrease cost of counting money, counting again, and then depositing in bank
  • Convenience
  • Customers have the ability to rack up reward points
  • Pay online

Cons:

  • Processing fees
  • Reconciliation of different card types
  • Application of payments to A/R
  • Keeping up with PCI compliance
  • Taking payment over the phone
  • On boarding a card for future use
  • Cost of hardware to take physical cards

bMobile’s response to customers doing high amounts of transactions with DSD delivery is to eliminate the cons.

Let’s take a look at each con one-by-one.

Processing fees – bMobile has developed a system that limits fees by offering the best rates for Credit Card Transactions as well as offering the ability to accept ACH payments, which come at a flat fee per transaction.  To make it even better, we are also offering the ability to assess a convenience fee using a flat rate or a % to recoup the cost reasonably.

Reconciliation -  By tracking the payment types for reporting purposes, we offer data in our reports to quickly look at payments by dates to help cut down the statement reconciliation process along with ACH and Credit Cards. This gives the processor memo information for quick reference of who made a payment and why.

Application of payments in A/R -  bMobile has given admins, drivers and customers the ability to select what they are paying for with full application in the A/R system.

Keeping up with PCI Compliance – bMobile teamed up with our preferred processors and now uses the latest hardware and software applications to keep you 100% PCI Compliant.

Taking payments over the phone – Now, payments can be taken in whatever way is the most useful for you and your customer, whether it be by phone, web or in the field with your delivery driver.

On boarding a card for future use – This can be done by someone over the phone (long way), by the customer using the web payment portal, or by the driver with a Bluetooth device chip reader.  All three can on board, replace a card on file or use a card for an on-time charge.

Cost of hardware to take a physical card – The only hardware you will need is for the driver - office personnel will use the bMobile Desktop and customers will use the web portal. If cards need on boarding, or need to be charged one time, or you would like to offer Apple Pay and Google Pay, your driver would need to have a Mini Genius at a cost of $60 per unit. If your drivers do not need to on board or take cards for one-time charges, they will not need a Mini Genius Device and can charge a card on file.  They will need an Android device with a data connection to do this instead.

bMobile can help start your experience with electronic payments. If you are interested in integrating electronic payments into your business, don't hesitate to Contact Us!

Call: 1+(888) 900-5667

Email: info@bmobileroute.com

Need DEX to Grow Your Business?

There are relatively few barriers to entry if a supplier wants to DEX with a retailer, and with a bit of planning, implementation can go quite smoothly. A small manufacturer may be interested in expanding their business to retailers that require DEX, but both the supplier and the consultant they are working with might not have much experience. Here are a few things to think about as you begin your DEX journey in Direct Store Delivery and how bMobile Route Software can make the process easier.

1. Setup

One of the most important aspects in a DEX implementation for a supplier may be in the communication channel that is set up with the retailers. Different retailers have different processes that suppliers must adhere to before the supplier will be allowed to DEX. At the product level, this might mean an audit of the product and price list that the supplier and retailer have to insure that they match. At the software level, it can mean a host of things. Many of the large chains have predefined technical specifications for what information must be included in a DEX transmission. Sometimes, even though the standard may list a certain piece of information as optional, the retailer will require it.

Certification of the software may also be necessary. This usually involves a trip to the retailer’s headquarters to run the software through a variety of scenarios that may happen in the DEX process. bMobile can flexibly integrate with various businesses such as Target, CVS, and more.

2. Software

The retailer’s solutions, although customized for their needs, may come with much of the DEX functionality built into certain modules that they must install and activate. The supplier’s solution may come with the route accounting software that is being used, but at times this software is not compatible. This may necessitate some customization of the software to make it DEX capable. Making the software capable will require that the invoice be translated into the proper DEX format, and translated back out of the format for reconciliation. The DEX software will also have to transfer identifying information and perform communications handshakes with the retailer’s system. bMobile Route Software can subvert these steps by being able to integrate with many different systems from the get-go. This makes the transition to DEX easy and efficient for both the organization and the driver/operator.

3. Integration

When the route accounting software is in place and DEX capable, it is important that the proper integration takes place with the suppliers system. Because the DEX process is the proof of delivery, it is important to record some of the information such as the digital signature from the transmission for later usage.

Expanding your direct store delivery operations to retailers that require DEX can be very profitable. It is important to make sure you have a software partner that understands DEX and can provide the best DSD solution for your business.

Interested in using bMobile Route Software to integrate DEX into your business? Don’t hesitate to Contact Us! We’ll help you set up all devices with our route software for all your DEX needs.

Adapted From Original Article by Gimme DSD; Posted With Permission

Top