Is Your Wholesale Distribution Software Holding You Back?
I can’t think of many more demanding environments than those experienced by the modern day wholesale distributor. It’s a challenging marketplace with high customer expectations, and tight margins.
As a result, successful operators in this space are always on the lookout for a competitive edge.
Continually improving warehousing practices, adopting better transport solutions, constantly upgrading technology, and developing higher performing teams, are all elements in the mix for those wanting to reach their full potential.
The positive impact of technology
Over the last few decades’ technology has had a dramatic impact on wholesale distribution. From sophisticated RF scanning systems, to automatic pallet wrappers–successful wholesale distributors have been the early adopters in this space–replacing manual, time consuming practices with technology aided solutions that are more reliable, safe, and scalable.
Today, it is hard to imagine a wholesale distributor being the market leader if they are operating with printed picking slips and hand written consignment notes. Instead, successful operators are widening the gap by leveraging best practice supply chain, warehouse, and transport processes, which are facilitated by truly great software. They drive constant improvements in accuracy, timeliness and stock holdings that deliver tangible benefits to a company’s cash-flow, profitability and customer experiences.
Therefore, if you aspire to operate a national hub and spoke model to facilitate same day metropolitan delivery, or provide a sophisticated client drop ship service from an eCommerce platform, it is unlikely to happen effectively without the right software in place.
The role of wholesale distribution software
Put simply, your wholesale distribution software should support your business to reach its full potential. It’s not going to do your job for you, but it shouldn’t make your life difficult either.
"Truly, your organization cannot get the full value out of its ERP investment if the line of business cannot actually use the technology for its intended purpose."
"Are You Asking The Right Questions When Selecting An ERP System?", Aberdeen Group, Nick Castellina, June, 2015.
As a business critical application, your wholesale distribution software should provide the functionality and framework for you to operate effectively, while giving you the confidence that you can be innovative and entrepreneurial.
This is why the user-friendliness of your systems is such an important component.
If your team members are required to use cumbersome and complex software, it increases the likelihood they will create their own workarounds, which can reduce data integrity, increase inaccuracy, and impact compliance. In such an environment, training and onboarding new staff can be both challenging and confusing. However, if your software systems are intuitive, user friendly and well supported, it promotes collaboration, faster onboarding and a culture of problem solving and innovation.
Support should also be a part of the conversation of user-friendliness, as the two are relatively entwined.
While your objective is likely to be one of self-sufficiency, when you do need support, you want to be confident that you are dealing with a team that can help you derive the greatest value out of the software.
Don’t be held back
If while reading the above you have been thinking about all the deficiencies of your current operating environment, then you should recognise the inherent challenges that lay ahead if you don’t take corrective action.
In stages of growth and strong competition, you should look to a software platform that can support complex supply chain connectivity initiatives. Initiatives that offer a competitive advantage with greater visibility and performance driving integration.
It is this type of focus which can make all the difference in where your business will be in the years to come.
Without software that has robust, integrated functionality, spanning all facets of your business–from sales, to production, to finance–it will be a real challenge to compete with other wholesale distributors that use software which contain such capabilities.
72% of Australian business leaders agree it isn’t possible to grow without the right technology in place. Therefore, whether it is harnessing the required value from flexible cycle counting, or eCommerce integration, or extensive landed cost capabilities, it is important to understand your requirements. Doing so allows you to identify the feasibility for your current wholesale distribution software to realistically support your growth plans.
Cloud solutions, mobility, and social ERP are all great examples of how technology is continuing to evolve the wholesale distribution industry. Therefore, if you aren’t maintaining pace with the market by adopting the right solutions, then ask yourself what impact it will have if your competitors are.
Posted by Vince Randall, Regional Vice President, Epicor Software ANZ