An unprecedented demand for precision and pace has been a catalyst for change in the logistics and wholesale sector. These high customer expectations have led IDC to predict that by 2022, digital technologies that allow for automation of repetitive tasks will streamline supply chain operations dramatically, cutting typical manual-based processes in half.
These new technologies are geared at helping retailers and wholesalers answer one question. How can I bring simplicity and profitability to my supply chain, in the midst of a chaotic 24×7 shopping environment?
Data drives accuracy and insight
Manual, labour-intensive supply chain methods impede the pace at which a business can gather and act on vital insights from multiple locations, stakeholders and resources. Leading Australian businesses are leveraging robust Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to overcome these hurdles and provide an outstanding customer experience.
Using best-of-breed ERP solutions, wholesalers can identify the location of a product even if it is stored across multiple warehouses, as well as the quickest picking route. This kind of information speeds up order allocation, streamlining operations to improve customer experience and win loyalty.
Wholesalers can also identify valuable insights that drive better performance through real-time monitoring and historical trend analysis via embedded business intelligence (BI) functionality. This helps wholesalers keep pace with the changing demands of retailers and their customers.
Full visibility increases efficiency
Supply chain networks are becoming more complex with multiple suppliers, stakeholders and locations. Of course, wholesalers live or die by the accuracy of their records, and their ability to keep these expansive ecosystems in balance.
This is why manufacturers require an ERP with powerful distribution requirements planning (DRP) functionality embedded. It should offer a visualisation map of the full network to give manufacturers one single view, simplifying their navigation through the system. Businesses can then plan more thoroughly with a clear view of all elements, including stock and staff, across multiple locations on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. A robust DRP should also equip you to source any item, from anywhere, without limitations and control – whether purchasing is done centrally or locally. This makes it easier to monitor both physical and financial operations from one centralised hub.
Tracking across deliveries ensures reliability
It is critical for wholesalers to track and manage the supply chain after an order is dispatched. Orders can be delayed, lost or returned to the depot for a variety of reasons, often through no fault of the supply chain management team.
To provide further visibility on this last stretch of the supply chain, proof of delivery (PoD) is a recommended capability integrated within your ERP system, to help improve the overall user experience by keeping the logistics operator up-to-date on every stage of the delivery process. It should be mobile-friendly, so no matter where your team is on the road, they can be alerted to key milestones within each delivery, in real-time. These status changes should then instantly record against a sales order, eliminating manual work and the potential for an order to be lost en-route, increasing overall reliability and profitability.
With complete access to package details, delivery instructions and customer contacts, delivery teams are then more informed and efficient when handling dispatches. An ERP system integrated with location-based tracking services, such as Google Maps, makes it convenient for drivers to plan their deliveries and view distances between drops, at a glance. They can capture signatures and photos upon delivery to serve as proof, ultimately making the process more secure and seamless for the customer. Delivery records can then be viewed at any time, even when offline, helping to eliminate failed or incomplete deliveries due to network drop-outs.
Automation boosts sales revenue
In today’s fast-paced retail world, wholesalers that stand out from competitors are those that demonstrate their ability to rapidly fulfil an order and provide a definite ETA.
An ERP system integrated with available to promise (ATP) capability considers a wholesaler’s sources of supply such as purchase, transfer or manufacturing orders and matches this information against sales or branch transfer orders to generate ATP dates. By considering future delivery dates on purchase orders, as well as outstanding sales orders, wholesalers can then provide accurate fulfilment information and better manage customer expectations.
“By considering future delivery dates on purchase orders, as well as outstanding sales orders, wholesalers can then provide accurate fulfilment information and better manage customer expectations.”
Robust ATP functionality should also offer the intelligence to softly allocate products to expected orders, improving stock management and driving real efficiencies in supply chain planning. Wholesalers can then confidently go above and beyond for their customers, with the system providing alternatives to complete orders that inadvertently get delayed or cancelled by one manufacturer. Not only does this build your customer loyalty, it helps drive more sales during periods of peak demand, especially when other wholesalers struggle to cope with orders.
Your path to success
Streamlining and optimising supply chains is a priority for competitive organisations but achieving results can seem elusive and expensive. Don’t let this complexity stop your transformation. Work with a trusted technology partner who has the deep industry expertise required to offer innovative answers to your toughest questions. This will simplify your path to profitability and growth in 2019 and beyond.
Paul Goepfert is the chief marketing officer of Pronto Software.