Over the past few years – in the wake of Brexit, the pandemic and lockdowns – wholesale and distribution businesses have been forced to react to ever-changing scenarios. Those that have adapted best, and which have resiliently come out of these formidable situations, have been those that have shown agility and proactivity.
On the other hand, supply chain businesses with outdated systems have not fared so well. Relying on manual systems or redundant technology has blocked their growth and limited their agility. Future-proofing your business systems is the key to boosting the supply chain and navigating any similar predicaments that arise in the future.
Embrace Digital Transformation
Negative economic impacts can be mitigated by investing in automation and technology. There are platforms and solutions that are fully scalable and agile, growing with you as you expand your business. Those solutions – like NetSuite – that are cloud-based are continually and automatically updated. This not only gives peace of mind that the software is always up to date, but also translates to better operational economies, bringing a lower total cost of ownership in the long term. These platforms are extensible and responsive in the face of change without constant heavy reinvestment in IT resources.
Despite the obvious benefits, leaders are often reluctant to make digital transformation a priority, delaying changes to their infrastructure and software. But continuing to rely on established but outdated systems that do not deliver a satisfactory outcome is short-sighted.
Reinvent the Tools for Success
Supply chain improvements have historically been possible only by increasing the numbers of people employed in the warehouse or delivery fleet. This adds additional cost, so while improvements are incremental as you scale up your staffing, they only add upgrade your operational performance by a small amount.
Technological solutions, however, bring improved insight, which enables better decision-making. In the wholesale distribution sector, this can result in better stock turnover, faster and more accurate picking, lower stock-carrying costs and lower returns rates.
Understanding and benchmarking your metrics allows you to tweak and improve, reducing costs, improving productivity and maximising income – all of which result in a boost to your supply chain operations.
Know Your Dependencies
Modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems bring transparency and enhance the visibility of your supply chain. They allow you to see and understand all of your supply chain paths. You can observe, for example, if several of your suppliers are relying on the same third-party supplier, allowing you to mitigate for any issues that this could entail.
An older or outdated system does not bring this insight and will not clearly map out the links in your supply chain. Implementing a solution that makes this data visible and supplies exceptional related analytics can also be conveyed as a benefit when negotiating new contracts with both suppliers and customers.
Eliminate Siloed Data
When different functions of your business use separate data systems, you are in danger of impeding future growth. Data kept in siloes is not usable across the business, hampering communication, collaboration and the development of a lean supply chain.
Conversely, where your Sales, Marketing, Finance, Procurement and Warehouse are all in alignment, and working with the same data in a unified system, errors are avoided and business decisions are more timely and more accurate. You can also integrate to your website and other systems to streamline operations and simplify processes.
With a unified supply chain management system, you get better visibility across you whole business. You can clearly see your stock situation, sales performance and financial indicators and can better mitigate issues or seize opportunities. This ability to react and to plan helps you to both reduce costs and optimise sales.
Reduce Manual Work
A good supply chain management system will help you automate manual processes. This will reduce the amount of laborious work your staff need to do, saving them time and effort.
Systems can be set up with defined parameters that trigger workflows automatically. For example, stock can be reordered when it reaches a certain level, or order picking strategies can be set according to delivery timescales or destinations. In conjunction with technology like scanning guns, picking, putaway and replenishment can all be achieved without manually ticking line items or checking off orders.
NetSuite provides two upgrades every year, year where all customers are upgraded to the latest version of the platform. These ongoing improvements are used to develop the platform over time. Many of the enhancements are driven by customer suggestions and feedback, demonstrating the platform’s user-centricity. In responding to customer requests, NetSuite can better their solution, giving business leaders the opportunity to boost their supply chains and retain a competitive edge.
If you are ready to boost your supply chain through technology, we can help with a free business consultation or a quote for your operation. Contact us today or book an appointment with one of our certified consultants, who can help you assess your needs and design the system that will increase your warehouse efficiency.