Paul Rogers examines how wholesale and distribution companies are using technology to realise major cost and efficiency savings in the run up to their busiest time
Here in the UK, we spent a whopping £5.8 billion in the shopping mayhem that was the Black Friday / Cyber Monday long weekend in 2016. This was a sizeable 15% increase on 2015’s expenditure and a figure that’s only set to rise further still in 2017. Behind this shopping bonanza lies a multitude of wholesale and distribution companies, whose very survival depends on them being primed and ready for the busiest shopping weekend of the year. But, in a sector where margins are continuously squeezed ever tighter, the need to do more with less is making it increasingly difficult for wholesale and distribution companies to keep pace with demand. With this in mind, savvy businesses are turning to the latest technology for help, with the right systems guaranteeing precise demand planning and inventory level accuracy, securing those all-important On-Time-and-In-Full deliveries.
Regardless of size, wholesale and distribution companies need business solutions that sit at the heart of the business, enabling them to improve delivery performance and fulfilment while reducing costs. This can only be done by streamlining processes, bringing together seemingly disparate business functions within a single system to provide clear visibility of not only stock and order statuses, but also spanning financials, CRM, traceability, warehousing and HR, to name but a few. It’s only with this single view of the business that wholesale and distribution businesses can readily identify where operational efficiency savings can be made, optimising logistics, sales processing and planning to improve performance while controlling costs.
One key business area where technology really comes into its own is inventory control. Using an accurate, streamlined stock control management tool, warehousing and distribution businesses can effectively manage warehouse data, tracking and recording stock movements in real time. The automatic recording of goods receipts and issues, as well as the tracking of any stock transfers, means that inventory counts are quick and easy to perform, safe in the knowledge that the information you’re using is accurate and up-to-date.
As the stock management is fully integrated with the rest of the business, this leads to increased automation when it comes to order fulfilment, ensuring not only more on-time deliveries, but also fewer shock shortages for improved customer service and satisfaction levels, as well as the inevitable increased profitability. With powerful stock control as standard, such solutions reduce inventory costs by automating previously laborious manual processes, bringing real efficiency savings to light with the improved business insight that only real-time stock management can bring.
This level of inventory control goes hand-in-hand with effective demand planning and forecasting, again another area of the business where the right technology can make all the difference. Such is the insight afforded by solutions which span every area of the business, they’re able to inform demand planning to such a level that warehouse and distribution businesses can be one-step ahead of the customer, no longer playing catch-up with the retailers or consumers. The accuracy of the demand planning that’s possible with the right solution in place reduces costs, reduces inventory levels and, most importantly, significantly reduces order fulfilment errors. Quicker, better, more insightful decision-making is possible, resulting in precise forecasts which are underpinned by timely access to accurate, in-depth data from not only within the business but from across the wider supply chain too.
The complete end-to-end visibility of products and processes that only technology can provide simply can’t be replicated manually. Accessible, in-depth reports and dashboards provide the levels of insight necessary for warehouse and distribution businesses to outpace customer demand, automating processes and procedures to not only save time and money but to improve their service delivery and, most importantly for the business, make a real difference to the bottom line.
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