Why you need to future-proof your business
The wholesale and distribution industry is a competitive one, and one that is undergoing a huge shift in the way they operate. Companies across the supply chain from manufacturers to wholesalers, distributors, merchants and retailers are looking to transform their operations with a modern-day makeover.
To keep pace with the growing demand of consumers and survive in a changing economy, industry leaders are focusing their efforts on digitally transforming their operations and embracing technology to ensure and increase their success for the future.
Ignoring the changing marketplace is a risk and soon your competitors will take advantage of the opportunities and you’ll find yourself struggling to keep up. In our recent survey among 250 wholesalers and distributors, we found that shockingly 88% of respondents are using multiple software systems and 98% are still using some type of manual processes despite 82% agreeing that ERP systems give greater visibility and control of stock. No matter how big or small, your business can embrace technology to enable a flexible and proactive approach to future-proofing your business.
What does digitally transform mean?
To digitally transform your business is simply to review your current way of operating and implement technology to improve processes. Commonly, for the wholesale distribution industry, this starts with implementing an ERP system to centralise data and connect departments across the business for better continuity. For more information on what digital transformation means, you can download our Digital Transformation Guide for Wholesalers and Distributors here.
The key to digital transformation, that sets it apart from simply digitalising elements of the business is that it’s continuous. With the rate that technology changes and advances, new products and working practices evolve and the proactive approach of digital transformation is that a business is always reviewing their operations to continually adapt to the best way of working for that company and sector. This means that digitally transforming, and ultimately future-proofing your business, is more than just an operational thing, it’s cultural. Changing behaviours of the team will enable the business to be proactive, keep pace and stay competitive.
Future-proofing business objectives
In order to tackle the common challenges faced by the distribution industry, you need to have (and be able to continually monitor and improve) the three key, future-proofing business objectives: control, visibility and efficiency.
Without control over your stock and your overhead costs, without visibility of your sales and company performance and without optimum business efficiency in your order processing, sales teams, purchasing & accounts, and your warehouse, it will be almost impossible to grow and improve your business.
The 3 key future-proofing business objectives are: Visibility, Control & Efficiency
Visibility of your customer, product and sales data is crucial to driving your business forward. Implementing technology to centralise data and improve cross-department communication will help to reduce the risk of data errors and give managers the company-wide reporting they need to make accurate, real-time decisions. Teams across all departments, from the sales & marketing teams to finance, purchasing and warehouse will benefit from an integrated business and stock management software.
A single business software solution gives you a 360-degree view of your data and performance that disparate systems lack. With a single ERP solution, even your trade counter staff, remote workers and sales reps on the road can access the same data and follow the same processes.
Creating a smarter business environment enables employees to utilise technology to improve performance. ERP systems give all departments within a business access to the same real-time data, which gives you the ability to control the information you hold and improve accuracy. With access to up-to-date data, accurate forecasting becomes much quicker and easier and you gain control over your company’s performance. Data and stats of your customer journey, sales, warehouse efficiencies, stock control and team performance give you the ability to spot trends, know your best performances, but also where to improve so you can always strive for better.
For wholesalers and distributors, taking control of your warehouse can be revolutionary to the way you operate, which has a knock-on effect to your customer service, reputation, team morale and ultimately your bottom line.
57% of the managers we surveyed reported reduced admin times as the main benefit to a central ERP solution. Removing manual processes, digitalising processes and taking out the duplication of tasks across systems removes time-consuming admin, increases accuracy and most importantly improves efficiency. Empowering employees with the tools that increases efficiencies and improves productivity not only helps your bottom-line and helps you to stay competitive, but it also improves employee’s satisfaction, increasing retention rates and boosting workplace and job happiness.
Future-proof your business with technology to stay competitive
We understand that implementing an ERP system, investing in technology and transforming the way you operate doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s crucial that these decisions aren’t taken lightly, and new systems, infrastructure and tech partners are carefully considered, but taking steps forward to becoming a modernised, proactive business does not have to be as daunting as it first seems.
A coherent and well manage project plan is crucial to long term success. Start with outlining your company goals and aims and create a wish list of what you’d like to achieve and when before researching what is viable. Rushing to make off-the-cuff decisions will have repercussions in the future, so allow time to create a plan to find the right technology partner.
If you’re at the beginning of your ERP vendor selection phase of your project and you need more help, read our latest blogs on: how to choose the right software partner, tips for a smooth migration and how to unlock hidden business potential with a Business Process Review.