Traditionally, distribution businesses have relied on people power to run their operations. However, with the rising demand for top-notch service, many organisations are digitising their entire supply chain to gain efficiencies, remain agile and meet customer expectations.

Above all, nearly all distributors have one key demand – speed of processing – yet, 80% still take orders, update inventory and process invoices using manual and paper based systems. Innovators, on the other hand, are digitising and transforming their operations using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to meet the ever-increasing customer expectations and accelerate the order-to-cash process.

Automation is key here. According to Forbes, when automation can handle up to 45% of repetitive work, it allows more time for more higher-value tasks such as problem-solving, identifying solutions and developing new ideas. It is time to automate workflows and reduce the burden of manual tasks.

Automate your order management process to save time

More than 80% of businesses still process their customer orders by hand. Taking orders by phone turns experienced staff into data entry clerks and leaves room for processing errors. Errors = unhappy customers.

If you digitise your systems, by implementing ERP software, orders will be posted directly into your system. This data will then seamlessly flow to the warehouse for picking, despatch for packing and delivery and accounts office for billing. The result? You will free up resources devoted to repetitive tasks, increasing your productivity, and lowering your total cost of operations.

Track your inventory – know what stock you have and what stock you need!

43% of businesses either don’t track inventory at all or use a manual method and rely on an individual to keep records up to date. Placing all your eggs in one basket puts significant risk on your business. What happens when that individual is off sick or decides to leave? Are you confident you would be able to pick up where they left off?

By introducing a system to track stock, you can respond to customer requests in real time as you are not reliant on manual checks in the warehouse. Automation forms an integral part of this, with smart notifications and dynamic reports to give you visibility of fast- and slow-moving stock lines.

Consequently, you’ll instantly see what needs to be restocked, ensuring you have the items the customer wants, and are not forced to find a higher-priced replenishment or worse, lose the sale to a competitor.

Understanding slow moving inventory can help ensure you’re not over-stocked and therefore not tying up cash which could be better invested in other parts of the business. Moreover, excess stock must be insured, depreciated, and taxed as an asset, which all adds up towards additional expense.

Predict demand and improve customer satisfaction

According to research, 1 in 3 customers will leave after just one bad experience, so in order to keep them satisfied you need to provide them with the product they want when they want it, no exceptions. Only predictive forecasting will help you manage your distribution channel in terms of human resources and stock levels needed to meet your customer’s demands.

ERP software will provide a centralised system with accurate and real time information. This means the ability to predict future sales at the click of a button, proactive alerts of inventory gaps and seamless ordering of the right product at the right time. Delivering the best service will allow you to maintain long-lasting hard-won relationships and create competitive advantage.

How Xperience can help you improve distribution efficiency

At Xperience, we drive business efficiency through digital transformation. We specialise in delivering ERP solutions and have successfully worked with distribution companies like yours for over 15 years. We understand your business is unique and strive to deliver a solution tailored to meet your needs, from helping you to manage inventory and shipment schedules, to automating processes and delivering on customer demand.

We understand that choosing the right distribution ERP solution might be daunting which is why we created this useful guide and to help you identify:

  • What a good system should offer
  • Things to avoid
  • How to find the right ERP provider
  • How to "future proof" your investment

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