After matching Amazon on fill rate and other metrics, jan/san distributors can begin to pull ahead of the e-commerce company by continuing to do what they do best: offer everything their customer needs along with ultra-personable service to make the value of any order go further.

Amazon is a massive company attempting to service a lot of industries. Since it is the one coming in to do flyover service of the jan/san distributor's space, it's not the one who has an intimate connection with the industry. For evidence of this, compare the jan/san products sold by Amazon to the offerings of a jan/san distributor. Amazon might offer more items that appeal to a wide variety of customers, but not much else. A distributor will provide just about everything a jan/san customer needs.

"If you search for a product [on] it comes up with all sorts of stuff that doesn't fit the query," says Hestenes. "For the most part, there isn't a whole lot of proprietary stuff that is the bread and butter of jan/san customers."

Then there's what happens after the order. Amazon does an awesome job of tracking a package, but it can't offer much else. However, a jan/san distributor can put a customer in touch with one of its team members in case they have questions that arise after the purchase. Did the customer buy a new and expensive piece of equipment but doesn't know how to use it? That's fine. Many distributors will be willing to set something up so that one of their staff members who is familiar with the technology can help the customer find their way.

"The old way of doing business is no longer good enough," says Kaminstein. "If the distributor is able to match Amazon's order accuracy and delivery times, they neutralize Amazon's one main advantage. Throw in the stronger personal relationship that a distributor has with their customers and there is a formula to successfully compete against Amazon."

A jan/san distributor will need an ERP software that works best for them in order to properly marry their new technology with their customer service. This means the distributor must know how to buy and implement the software.

When shopping for ERP software, Lane suggests jan/san distributors set up an appointment to go over the software's capabilities with the companies that make the programs. Sales mangers, directors of purchasing and other important decision makers should be present during the overview so they can educate the software sellers on what their exact needs are.

EPR software experts also suggest that jan/san distributors go with a company that will offer a turnkey implementation of the software and a training methodology that is designed to help jan/san distributors thrive.

"Look for a company that focuses on distribution, not a horizontal company who has some distributors as customers," says Kaminstein. "A software company focused on the distribution (and jan/san) space will offer out–of-the-box capabilities that the generic software products cannot match."

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ERP Software Gives Orders Amazon-Like Accuracy