Optimizing 5-Gallon Water Bottle Delivery: Why Traditional ERP Isn’t Enough

When it comes to picking a software solution for your company, the choices are practically endless.This is especially true for niche businesses, e.g., 5-gallon water bottle delivery companies, where a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. 

With so many potential options available, how do you know which solution is right for you? We have put together this guide to help you identify the kind of software that aligns best with your business needs. 

What is ERP Software?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different ERP softwares that businesses use to streamline and standardize routine tasks across all departments. 

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a comprehensive suite of programs that brings together a multitude of business activities onto a cohesive, centralized platform. 


  • Automates end-to-end workflows;
  • Consolidates key processes;
  • Integrates core functions like accounting, sales, human resources, finance, marketing, customer relationship management, etc.;
  • Streamlines data exchange and storage; and
  • Improves agility and visibility of daily operations. 

Let’s say you run a 5-gallon water bottle delivery business. Your ERP might handle aspects like:

  • Processing and managing orders
  • Scheduling and dispatching delivery personnel
  • Handling calls and enquiries from customers
  • Monitoring stock levels and reorder points
  • Maintaining a staff of drivers, dispatchers, and schedulers
  • Keeping the vehicles in working order
  • Maintaining a database of customer information, feedback, and service requests
  • Tracking payment status and managing billing cycles

And so on. 

The key objective of an ERP implementation is to streamline and automate back-office or administrative tasks and minimize time inefficiencies associated with manual processes. 

What is Water Delivery Software?

Water delivery software is a solution designed for field-centric tasks like tracking deliveries, managing orders, scheduling journeys, handling assets, overseeing field sales operations and managing customers. 

The common characteristics of water delivery softwares include:

  • Back-office automation
  • Field force automation through native mobile apps
  • Route planning & optimization
  • Van stock management
  • Automated invoicing & billing
  • Electronic proof of delivery
  • Electronic signatures
  • Cash, card, & credit payments management
  • Bottle returns management
  • Real-time notifications
  • Live customer support 

A good delivery software will also provide AI-powered predictive analytics and reporting tools that allow managers to monitor performance and make data-driven decisions in real time. 

Why Traditional ERP Isn’t Enough

Traditional ERP offers the advantage of immediate deployment. It’s developed for the mass market and incorporates various modules to cater to a broad user base from different service industries. However, traditional ERP softwares are implemented on premise and cater to back office operations like purchasing, HR, accounts and payroll etc. Therefore, they often fall short compared to industry-specific SaaS delivery solutions tailored for specific business needs for delivery companies.

Firstly, traditional ERP is designed to be used by any and all industries or business sectors. In the context of water deliveries, an ERP usually streamlines the administrative side of things, including the back office operations such as accounts, payroll and HR. On the contrary, water delivery software primarily addresses delivery personnel, orders management, assets management and field sales in real-time, which is largely missing in traditional ERP software.

Secondly, ERPs handle massive data, thereby requiring complex architecture and subject matter experts to use it, unlike a typical software. This complexity often restricts access to authorized users within an organization. On the other hand, water delivery software is mostly an easy-to-use, web or mobile-based, SaaS application readily available to anyone with a device or computer with an internet connection. This can be particularly advantageous for field personnel who need to use the application while on the move or across multiple devices. Also, unlike ERPs, water delivery applications are commonly developed with an emphasis on user-friendliness, making them easy to use and navigate for delivery fleets and customers alike.  

Thirdly, setting up an ERP system is expensive. The costs include buying the software licenses and spending time and resources to train everyone in different departments. On the other hand, a SaaS application is cheaper to build in comparison, and hence, is more economically viable for companies with budget constraints. 

Fourthly, and lastly, your lack of control over features and the fact that tools in traditional ERPs come with limitations, hinder its appropriateness for your unique business goals and long-term growth. Though a tailor-made ERP can provide you with a good amount of flexibility and scalability, going the custom route often ends up being much pricier throughout the software’s lifespan and can bring unexpected challenges, especially when you’re modifying your modules or maintaining them.

Speaking of which, it’s worth noting that regular maintenance is essential for ERPs just as it is for standard software applications. This is crucial to ensure their optimal functionality and to maintain security, reliability, and up-to-date performance. The maintenance process may involve minor patches, version upgrades, or sometimes, even entirely new versions. 

That being said, most traditional, on-premise ERPs go through upgrades once or twice a year. If you have a highly customized system, each upgrade will require redoing the customizations. In many cases, it might also inconvenience the end users. Moreover, over time, you might lose tech support for traditional software, and upgrades could become either costly or completely unavailable.

In contrast, SaaS applications are hosted on web servers. This architecture empowers businesses to promptly address software bugs, security risks, or performance bottlenecks without interrupting user experience.

Mile’s 5-Gallon Water Bottle Delivery Software: Bridging the Gaps 

If you are looking to improve field sales, efficiency, and accountability of your water delivery business in real time, Mile’s software solution can help. In addition to streamlining the order management for 5-gallon water bottles, our water delivery software allows bottled water distributors to monitor and track the accurate count of returned bottles per customer. 

Drivers have their own native apps with which they can generate new orders, produce invoices, and instantly update stock levels in both online and offline modes, whether operating from the back office or in the field. This flexibility ensures uninterrupted workflow even in locations with limited or no internet access. 

Other salient features include: 

  • Digital loadout & offloading
  • Route-optimized journey plans
  • Automated dispatching & zones management
  • Recurring orders management 
  • Integrated geo-enabled CRM
  • Customer & product-based unique discounts and flexible pricing
  • Free-of-cost and sample product issuance
  • Fully integrated workflow process for approvals and reconciliations
  • Daily settlements and field force management

Final Thoughts

Much like any other business, running a water delivery company needs a lot of effort and dedication. But more than that, it requires seamless operations management and quick response strategy to navigate business challenges. 

Using traditional ERP has its perks, but there are some downsides too. ERP vendors are often quick to highlight all of the benefits that their solutions provide and conveniently ignore some of the gaps that must be considered when determining the most suitable software for bottled water distribution business. 

Now that you’ve understood why traditional ERP isn’t enough and given its complexities post-implementation, it only makes sense to integrate it with Mile’s water delivery software to simplify your order fulfillment processes and enhance their efficiency. 

Ready to try it out? Schedule a demo today: