When it comes to stock management, seasonal changes are a big headache for the builders’ merchant. Epicor explains how this can be made easier for merchants.

Reliance on pen, paper or basic spreadsheets can add to the challenge, making it difficult or even impossible to analyse trends and plan for what the next few months will bring.

Seasonal inventory optimisation was a hot topic at the recent roundtable event on enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, hosted by Epicor Software and Builders’ Merchants News. As Toby Stuart-Jervis from the Frank Key Group explained, factoring in seasonal issues such as ordering in extra levels of stock, rotating stock to reflect the seasons, or extending product availability, all present major challenges for the industry. Since having too much or too little stock hits branches’ profits, the ability to precisely identify seasonal patterns is critical for smooth operations.

Nick Howarth from Howarth Timber agreed, saying that merchants need to move towards getting “suggested ordering” process working as accurately as possible. This would involve implementing a digital system capable of analysing seasonality and trends, rather than just, for example, the last three months’ sales so that merchants can more better estimate fluctuations in demand and supply. This would benefit merchants because it would support optimal stock turnover.

ERP systems such as Epicor BisTrack can help merchants manage their stock more effectively and easily recognise seasonal changes. Merchants can produce reports, see trends, and get help with forecasting.

For example, BisTrack suggests reorder quantities based on trends, rather than using predictive stock replenishment. You can also see how your business is performing by branch and product, and the system gives suggested reorder quantities based on that intelligence. Powerful “dashboard reporting” makes it easy to see all aspects of your business growth and figures on one screen, and helps you make better investment decisions going forward.

Just as planning ahead for stock is important, so too is planning for—and adopting— the right ERP system. Asked what advice they would give merchants thinking about moving to an ERP system, roundtable participants were in agreement that it was vital to “choose carefully” and find an ERP system that is an exact fit for your needs.

Working with an ERP system should be effortless. Which is why Epicor makes sure its solutions are easy to deploy, access, learn, use, and upgrade. And, because we understand that every business is unique, we provide industry specific solutions that fit your individual business requirements—and give you the flexibility to integrate new, transformational technologies as you see fit.

Tailored to the specific needs of the building supply industry, BisTrack delivers laser-sharp visibility on stock levels, sales histories, buying habits, and opportunities. The software simplifies inventory management, so that orders can always be fulfilled—whatever the season—and over-stock scenarios become a thing of the past.

In today’s competitive marketplace, tackling seasonal stock challenges is the key to elevating customer satisfaction. Advanced inventory management systems like BisTrack can help “unlock value”, keeping merchants abreast of seasonal change by delivering a wealth of data that makes it easy to understand inventory over an entire season or year.

The result is merchants are able to plan well in advance of seasonal pressures to make more sales, grow their business and serve customers better.