We all have some tasks in our workday that we dread doing. Most of the time, these to-dos are often repetitive, mundane and simply boring work that we can't help but procrastinate on or rush through simply to get it off our plate. This costs your wholesale distribution business money - the time and effort employees spend on these tasks hinders your bottom line.
So what are your successful competitors doing to counteract these snooze-inducing repetitive tasks that take away from meaningful work, and how do they keep employees engaged in their work and reduce turnover rates? The answer? Automation. Thanks to today's advancements in technology, many wholesale distribution businesses have adopted business management software to automate a number of these tasks and free up time for employees to focus on things that really matter in the business.
It seems like a very simple concept, yet many businesses have no idea which tasks to automate or how to begin the process of automating, let alone deciding which software is right to do so. Below are some processes we've seen customers save hours and even days by automating with business management software. Consider the following as best practices for your business.
Integrate Your Sales Channels
We speak with many prospects that come to Blue Link when they have had enough of manually re-keying information into multiple systems and spreadsheets. A key reason for this repetitive work is that the various sales channels of the business are all disconnected. Businesses that have multiple sales channels such as eCommerce, online marketplaces such as Amazon, tradeshows, POS systems, phone, email etc, have to dedicate a number of resources to managing sales orders that come in through these various platforms to ensure all orders are being fulfilled.
Implementing the right business management software acts as a central hub, storing all sales information in one system. This means that regardless of the channel a sale comes in through, it is accounted for in the system so employees have information that is always accurate and in real-time.
Not only is data centralized, but employees no longer have to manually update things like inventory counts once a sale is made. Let's say you have 100 shirts and someone orders 50 shirts from your eCommerce site. No manual intervention is required to update the inventory count for that particular item online or in your business management system - integration between both applications means inventory is updated automatically.
Another time-consuming repetitive task is the need to track landed costs - we speak with many businesses that do not have software that calculates true inventory cost meaning fees such as duties, freight, and shipping costs associated with a product. They have to manually enter these fees into all their purchase orders. We can agree that this is definitely not a good use of your limited resources.
Some business management software such as Blue Link will have functionality to automate landed costs which allow our customers to make informed purchasing and pricing decisions. They can also track the true inventory costs and associate different percentages based on things like the weight of a product.
When you think of the repetitive tasks that you do on a daily basis, chances are most of them include some sort of document management whether it's manually transferring data from documents or retrieving information from documents. These tasks often take up the most time out of your day which is why electronically managing documents is one of the best competitive advantages you can have.
Blue Link business management software customers have the option to include the electronic data management component, DocuWare into the system. Docuware allows users to instantly access files from anywhere on their computer or mobile device. They can index important data in seconds and quickly look up any documents using search functions in the application. No more manually keying in data. This is also beneficial for your sales team who need quick access to various documents when they're speaking with customers or even suppliers.
If you just rolled your eyes at the thought of this task - you're not alone. It goes without saying that it is quite difficult to manage the reordering of product, especially when dealing with large quantities of inventory movement. Tracking the movement of product and having access to historical sales information on specific products is crucial to making smart reordering decisions. Manually tracking this information and getting reordering "just right" is challenging for any type of business. This is why many wholesale distribution businesses have automated the reorder process with technology such as business management software.
For example, users can generate reorder reports in Blue Link where historical sales data pulled from the system within a given timeframe indicates the number of units presently on-hand for multiple items, the product on backorder, the product on purchase over and average product sold within a given timeframe that you choose. You can set criteria/values in these live linked reports to alert you when stock is getting low and needs to be reordered and the quantity that needs to be reordered. Then, with the push of a button, you can send the reorder information back into Blue Link to generate purchase orders for those specific items.
Your warehouse workers who are responsible for the picking, packing and shipping of orders most likely have the largest number of repetitive tasks on a day-to-day basis. While not all repetitive tasks can be eliminated due to the nature of the role, you can make processes a little easier with the right business management software.
For example, once a worker has picked an order, they can use verification scanning to pack the items. What this means is that they will be able to cross check the items against the pick slip/ sales order numbers stored in the system to identify any issues.
If you are a growing business, I'm sure you've heard employee grievances about re-keying customer information, especially if your business deals with credit card payments. Imagine only having to key in credit card information and customer information once. When a repeat customer makes an order, employees no longer have to ask for their information such as shipping address, credit card number, phone numbers, emails (the list goes on) each time if it is already entered into the business management software.
Reporting & Analytics
Depending on the business management software vendor you choose, you will be able to leverage data already entered into the system in order to automatically generate reports. These reports can be updated within a period of time using the live linked data from the system to gain real-time insight into business health.
For instance, let's say your sales department manually tracks top products sold by the number of units purchased. This can take hours and hours of manual data entry, whereas with the right business management software, once a product is purchased, that sales data lives within the system. Salespeople can then quickly query all products sold within a given timeframe to gain instant insight into higher performing as well as low performing products. They can also automate the distribution of these reports to the appropriate stakeholders.
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