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Manage your margins with new features in 4.0Beta3

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ardent xTuple-watchers may have noticed that we've had a longer-than-usual development cycle for our upcoming 4.0 release. When the final release arrives in a few months it will coincide with the release of our mobile/web client, which has been a huge development effort. At the same time, we have been developing some new features that will tune the product for the Wholesale Distribution market. We just released an unusual 3rd Beta of the upcoming xTuple 4.0 and it is loaded with features that are designed to quietly revolutionize the product, especially for distribution businesses. 

Cost Plus Pricing

Let's say you're a distributor. You buy low and sell (hopefully) high, and make your money on the margin. To maintain your margin you need to set your prices relative to the cost of the items you buy. We now have a cost-plus price schedule method that allows you to do just that. You can define price schedules to set your customer prices by marking up the cost. You can assign different markups to different customers or customer categories. It's pricing your way.

[Price Schedule Item showing a Markup]

Sales History

We've made a number of enhancements that fall into the category of Item Source Enhancements.

For distributors, prices may differ greatly among customers, so when you create a new order for the customer it's important to see a history of sales of an item to that customer. With increased visibility the sales rep can provide the customer with consistent pricing and maximize the margin. To make this easier and more convenient we've added a History tab right on the Sales Order Item screen. This tab has two radio buttons. The Sales History button shows a list of previous sales of the item to the customer, including prices.

[Sales History tab on Sales Order Item screen]

The Cost History radio button on the History tab lets you switch to a list of purchases of the item, so you can see what you've paid for the item in the past. You can use this cost history to make sure you're setting a profitable price.

[Cost History on Sales Order Item screen]

Item Sources

You can also switch to the Supply tab on the Sales Order Item screen to see a quick list of all available Item Sources for the item. This will provide information about replacement cost, if the item is out of stock.

[Item Source on Sales Order Item screen]

Contracts

It is common for a vendor's prices to be governed by a Contract that is effective for a certain period. We are introducing a new record type in 4.0Beta3 called Contracts. You define a contract, including effectivity dates, and then assign Item Sources to that Contract, so they will all be governed by the same dates. You can copy contracts, which will create a copy of all Item Sources, so that prices can be adjusted. You can now set prices that are good for a year, and automatically have the new pricing Contract kick in on the correct date. You can even attach actual Contract documents to the contract record for reference.

[New Contract screen]

Sales Type

Another enhancement you'll find in Beta3 is the concept of Sales Type. This is a user-configurable field that appears on the Sales Order header. It drives Sales Account Assignments. So, for example, if you have retail sales and b2b sales, and you want them to be recorded to different accounts, you can define these as Sales Types and assign them on the SO header.

[Sales Account Assignments now includes by Sales Type]

In the near future, Sales Types will be incorporated into the Enhanced Commissions package, so you'll be able to assign commission schedules based on Sales Type, too.

Boost Your Security

Finally, a heads up: We have always offered SSL security as an option when logging in to your xTuple database. In the future we have decided to make this a requirement. In the 4.0 release, if you have not enabled SSL connections on your xTuple database server you will receive a warning message telling you that the connection is not secure. We will provide a link with instructions on how to enable SSL (it's not hard), and of course you can always contact our Professional Services team if you require assistance setting this up. In 4.1 and above, non-secure connections will no longer be allowed. We hate to nag, but we feel it is time to help our users ensure they are using the best possible security practices when communicating sensitive business data on the Internet.

BC Wilson

Director Cloud Services
With the explosive movement of cloud strategies, BC was promoted to director of cloud services in 2014. Previously, he oversaw operations and hiring of managers for critical lines of business for the Product Management Group, driving return on investment (ROI) for all xTuple products and managed ongoing engineering and development of the xTuple Classic GUI product, including all customer-sponsored enhancements, as well as the xTuple Web Portal product. Prior to xTuple, BC was a senior product manager for Trader Electronic Media, where he directed the development of websites for the classified advertising market. He has also worked as a partner in a web design agency, and a content producer for the Road Runner and Starband broadband service providers. BC began his career as a writer and editor for the Ziff Davis computer magazines. He holds a B.A. in Theology from Georgetown University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Old Dominion University. In 2012, BC was appointed as a commissioner of Bicycle and Pedestrian Trails in Norfolk, Virginia.