Majure Data Has Major Impact on Inventory Management

jim.jpgMajure Data, a provider of warehouse management solutions (WMS), has carved out a niche serving the building products industry exclusively – the only company of its kind to do so. The 33-year-old firm initially catered to the business units of heavyweight corporations like AT&T and Goodyear but in 2000 decided to drill down its operations to zero in on a single market. The change, according to account executive Jim Houser, has proved to be a rewarding one both for Majure Data and its customers in the building materials realm.

Houser at the time of this shift actually worked for DMSi, a Majure Data business partner that recognized early on the need for better inventory management in the building products channel. Handed the responsibility of selecting a partner, Houser found Majure Data to be an easy choice. With no customers purchasing and installing the DMSi product and then subsequently allowing it to go “cold,” not only did the Georgia company have a perfect track record for implementing its system – a record that still stands 15 years later – Majure Data was also willing to modify its product to specifically meet the needs of the target customer. “They really wanted to focus and be the right solution for a whole industry and be able to just roll that product out to additional clients in that industry,” Houser remarks.

And so it was that Majure Data became a WMS provider with a focus solely on building products, a field that Houser says is still warming up to WMS. The technology was on the cutting edge at the turn of the century, but even now Houser says the company has not come close to scratching the surface of the potential that exists. WMS still is not commonly recognized and understood within the channel. Therefore, rather than having to differentiate itself from competitors in the space in order to win business from big players across multiple industries, Majure Data instead finds itself working the educational curve: teaching its building products customers about what WMS does and how it can streamline their operations.

How it does that, specifically, is by utilizing wireless handheld terminals in the warehouse, rather than relying on the old paper-intensive processes. The devices run Majure Data's software, which tracks inventory from the moment it hits the receiving dock until it is loaded onto the truck. “It's a step-by-step direction, and it's in real time,” Houser explains. At the same time, with every action taken, the ERP system is being updated so that the office staff is kept abreast of activity as well. “It gives them a much bigger area of visibility in terms of what's going on from a customer service standpoint,” he adds. 

Besides its unique focus on building products clientele, Majure Data also takes a somewhat different approach to technology development for its customers. Houser points out that for each new client or each new install – which occurs when clients roll out the product to additional branches – customers generally have a suggestion for some additional function that the software should be able to perform. Except in the rare case when a customer requests an add-on that Majure Data believes will not be useful and productive, the company simply augments the software without additional cost. According to Houser, the company embraces the approach that the changes will improve it and help it to win more sales in the industry. “Generally, software companies derive a lot of their revenue from charging out billable modifications, where we don't necessarily go that route,” he says, noting that the firm billed just $1,200 to its customers in all of 2014 for on custom development. “We try to do what's in the best interest of the customer and our software.”

Customer care and concern go beyond Majure Data's own WMS product, however. The firm is vocal about encouraging its customers to consider other technology-based solutions that also can save time and money. However, there's almost always resistance to technology spending, Houser admits, with distributors finding it difficult to justify the expenditure during down cycles and unnecessary during boom times when they are already prospering. “So there's never a good time in a lot of people's minds to invest in technology,” he acknowledges. “But the ones that did invest in technology during the downturn are reaping far more benefits than their counterparts just because they're more efficient and they're better-positioned to handle the customer demands of today as opposed to the ones that are still operating the way they did since they started their companies.” 

In particular, as Houser points out, there has been a tendency to overlook the warehouse. Firms now commonly use ERP and document management systems that have been around for some time in the office; yet it is the warehouse, he insists, that makes money. That's where WMS plays a key role. As an example, Houser says suppliers are rolling out new products, leaving warehouses to deal with thousands more new SKUs today than in previous years; and they need new solutions to deal with the higher volume. Customers now demand that distributors carry more product, have it available for fast delivery, and have better customer service. Houser says the technology of WMS, proof of delivery, and logistics packages that enhance truck routing to help distributors get the most out of their dispatch fleet are increasingly important. 

Membership in NBMDA has been, in Houser's words, “invaluable,” in no small measure because it has helped Majure Data land some of the early adopters that he referred to earlier. “They are the ones,” he says, “through word of mouth telling their peers, 'you're nuts for not looking at this [WMS] and the other technologies.' So being in the association has been huge for us.” Moreover, Houser says many of Majure Data's clients are past presidents and top leadership of the group. “It's interesting,” he muses“ that all those guys who have done very well and been elected to the top of the association are the ones who have the foresight to say 'we should be doing this.'”

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