Prophet 21 Ports Wholesale Package to AS/400

Prophet 21 Inc. (Yardley, Pa.) has announced plans to port its Prophet 21 Wholesale solution, previously known as Servent, to the AS/400 this summer.

Prophet 21 Wholesale, now available on Unix and Windows NT, offers function for order and inventory management, purchasing, financials, and shipping and receiving. The company has developed wholesale distribution software for the past 30 years.

The AS/400 version will be a complete 64-bit version of the software, intended for small- and medium-sized businesses and departments of larger enterprises. It will run natively on the DB2 UDB for AS/400 database and incorporate AS/400 administration functions.

Scott Deutsch, VP of marketing at Prophet 21, says his company evaluated the AS/400 market and saw a lot of opportunity there for its solutions. "They have probably the most loyal following of any platform," Deutsch says. "So we asked ourselves, ‘How do we reach those customers?’ A significant majority of them would not move to the Unix platform and a very small percentage would move to NT. So we saw a tremendous opportunity to reach a lot of customers, which we were unable to reach. It had nothing to do with our functionality and everything to do with our platform."

Deutsch says 20-22 percent of Prophet 21’s potential market is on the AS/400, particularly middle-market customers. He describes Prophet 21’s "sweet spot" of the market as customers between $20 million and $100 million in annual revenues.

"That’s really where our product is focused and where our core competency lies. Our business is designed to serve those companies, and the AS/400 installed base is the largest opportunity to reach those companies," Deutsch says.

Prophet 21 is focused primarily on industrial, electrical supply and plumbing/HVAC distributors, according to Deutsch. It also has some customers who distribute medical products and tiles. All of its customers deal with durable goods.

Deutsch explains that Prophet 21 differentiates from ERP vendors’ distribution and supply chain applications by focusing on what he calls the "extended supply chain" – independent, regional distributors who buy from manufacturers, rather than manufacturer-owned distribution centers.

"Our customers cannot afford two-to-three year implementations," says Deutsch. "Their businesses operate on slim margins. So one of the key advantages we have is the ability for our customers to get up and running and receive the benefits of our application quickly. You don’t hear horror stories from us about implementations that took two years and cost a million dollars."