Megaventory Blog - Online Inventory Management Software, Order fulfillment and Control System
This is the company blog for megaventory, an online software that helps small businesses that buy, sell and manufacture physical products to manage sales, purchasing, manufacturing and inventory. We blog about new features and updates but also about enterprise software, small businesses, cloud computing and the industry in general.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Market research: - All round SaaS ERP

Brightpearl is an online ERP and inventory management provider (among many other things as we'll see in this post) which could cover the needs of a small or medium business, much like MegaComp. It’s the fourth we present in this series of posts after megaventory, erply and myerp.

Features: Brightpearl will be able to cover a wide range of functionality for MegaComp and to varying degrees. Accounting, contacts and customer support (all falling under a broad CRM suite of products), inventory management, point of sale (POS), quotes and invoicing all are included in the offering. At the same time reporting is provided for all those features and to top it all off, if MegaComp has been left without an e-shop (or needs to update to a more modern or quick and dirty solution) Brightpearl can even provide a e-commerce solution. That has considerable customization capabilities which however are no match for its other operations.

Data visualisation & export: In terms of reporting and presenting the data, Brightpearl despite its heavy feature set is simply decent with definite room for improvement. In fact, data visualization is a point most providers we’ve used are found to be lacking. The majority of online ERP providers simply dumps the information in a printout without putting the effort to create something more pleasant or exciting - and Brightpearl is no exception. To be fair, that is a minor point given the rest of the features and as long as the basic export capability (CSV, PDF, print) is there, we shouldn’t complain.

Usability: The very large number of features, modules and sub-modules in Brightpearl makes for a daunting task to organize its capabilities in a way that makes sense. And although the team has put in a brave effort a by-product of trying to do everything is that your MegaComp employees will have to spend some time to learn the service and get basic stuff done. To Brightpear's defense, they have all the nice ideas (help tips while working, quick tutorials when first logging in and clever color coding) but the sheer amount of information to be processed can be overwhelming.

Security: Brightpearl is built on Amazon Web Services - something which alone provides a minimum of security and quality in its services. The usual characteristics apply: SSL encrypted connection, a dedicated database per client and each accessible through certain IP addresses. User permissions are granulated enough for each employee to only have access to what they need to know and backups take place nightly - but only go back 7 days.

Data import: Importing your information from one or more established platforms is something that is lacking in Brightpearl, contrary to what you’d expect from such a complete service. They do offer the usual methods though (CVS, VCF, Outlook) and then some (Sage, MYOB). The strongest feature of Brightpearl when it comes to importing though is that once you have imported your products they are also easily available in the integrated e-commerce platform it offers.

Maintenance: A number of ways to solve your problems exist - a dedicated support portal, video tutorials, a telephone line and a blog are all channels of keeping in touch with their customers. Furthermore, they offer consulting and training courses for those inclined and we have to admit we were pleasantly surprised with their followup call when we signed up for a trial account. Their email ‘course’ they send on regular intervals once you’ve signed up is also helpful.

Miscellaneous: A number of other complementary issues are there to make the experience better, such as integration with Mailchimp for your email campaigns, a POS solution if your business requires it and an API for more advanced users of Brightpearl and even SMS messaging.

Cost: Pricing is somewhat complicated - as you’d expect from so many features - but if you want inventory management for MegaComp, and five of terminals (Brightpearl charges for concurrent users not just for separate accounts) the price tag will be 199 USD per month plus 120 USD if you want them to do your e-commerce. Not a small amount of money for a beginning company - but there's always the alternative of packages without inventory management starting from USD 59 per month. Also, this whole pricing per concurrent users is confusing and does not help to minimize costs as we believe it's impractical for employees to have to cooperate to minimize concurrency - MegaComp will have to buy all white collar staff an account.

Brightpearl is an important player in the industry and a solution to consider. Special attention should also be given to whether the many features it offers are all necessary (as they increase complexity, extend and steepen the learning curve) and whether the corresponding cost makes sense. A company realistically expecting to rapidly grow will probably need the power but for a smaller shop with linear expected growth it’s probably an overkill.

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