Beat Your Competitors by Automating These 6 Tasks with Blue Link

One of the biggest benefits of implementing any full ERP solution like Blue Link, is the opportunity it provides your business to automate processes and improve productivity. It allows existing employees to focus more on meaningful tasks and less on administrative processes. It also means you can scale and grow the business at a faster rate than you need to hire additional people, ultimately saving you time and money. Below we discuss a couple ways in which you can beat your competition and grow your business with Blue Link ERP.

(1) Integrate Your Sales Channels

One of the easiest ways to improve productivity through automation is by integrating your sales channels. This means having data from multiple sales channels and systems all flow through one centralized database (aka Blue Link ERP). If you’re having to re-key information from multiple systems to manage order and inventory information from different sales channels, you’re susceptible to human error, delayed data sharing and incorrect information. Instead, by automating the flow of information, you ensure that inventory, sales and shipping data is up-to-date across all sales platforms. This includes selling retail through brick-and-mortar stores with POS software, selling through your own eCommerce site or Amazon, selling through a vendor marketplace, selling through tradeshows and outside salespeople, and managing orders through EDI. Regardless of the situation, typical integration looks something like this:

  • Inventory is categorized in Blue Link according to sales channels for easy reporting.
  • Inventory information (including descriptions, images, pricing and more) is stored, maintained and updated in Blue Link and then automatically “pushed” through to the different sales channels and corresponding pieces of software (for example, pushed to Amazon, your eCommerce site or a tablet being used by a salesperson).
  • Then, once an order is placed via that sales channel, the information gets automatically pulled into Blue Link. This updates inventory availability and prepares the order for next steps (such as sending the order to the warehouse for shipping).
  • Lastly, if any shipping, billing or confirmation information needs to be sent to the customer, once again, this can be done automatically by pushing the appropriate information from Blue Link through to the corresponding sales channels.

(2) Automatically Parse PDF Documents

Blue Link partners with some of the best solutions in the industry to offer our customers even more options for automation. For companies that deal with a high volume of PDF files (think invoices, purchase orders, expenses, specifications, etc.) these partners automatically parse the information from the PDF to create the corresponding entry in Blue Link. For example, if you regularly receive PDF invoices for purchase orders from repeat customers, the system can learn the format and layout of these documents to automatically capture and parse the information into the correct fields in Blue Link. This saves you the time and potential for error associated with doing it manually. You can then continue to process the transaction as normal from within the system.

(3) Create Inventory Reordering Reports

Reporting tools can provide various opportunities for automation across all different departments. One great example is Inventory Reordering Reports. 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 order and average product sold within a given timeframe that you choose. This information can then be live-linked in Excel where you can set criteria/values to alert you when stock is getting low and needs to be reordered and the quantity that needs to be reordered. Every time you open the spreadsheet, simply refresh the data to get the most up-to-date information. Finally, with the push of a button, you can send the reorder information back into Blue Link to generate purchase orders for those specific items.

(4) Implement Barcode Scanning 

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 barcode scanning tools from Blue Link. With Blue Link ERP, you have a couple of different options for implementing barcode scanning in your warehouse.

  • Simple Verification Scanning
  • Mobile Scanning App

Simple Verification Scanning

When picking product for an order, users can print a pick slip (according to bin and shelf locations), where employees can then pick product and manually check items off the list as they go through the warehouse. Then, once at the packing station, employees can use verification scanning to pack the items that are on the order. Verification scanning helps users double check product as it gets packed. In this situation, where mobile barcode scanning is not used, some processes are more manual, however when you’re dealing with only a small number of orders per day, verification scanning still helps to automate the manual process of double-checking product as it gets packed.  Your warehouse staff can still gain efficiencies by being able to print picking and packing slips, pick according to bin and shelf locations and double check orders when packing a shipment.

Mobile Scanning App

Blue Link’s mobile scanning app provides wireless barcode scanning functionality available on handheld devices such as mobile phones and works for various processes set-up throughout your warehouse (such as receiving, picking, packing and shipping). This functionality allows a user to scan products at the receiving dock to immediately identify and record the product on arrival. This will record what items were received followed by the default bin and shelf number the product is allocated to. Once a product is scanned, the quantity received gets recorded in Blue Link for comparison against a given purchase order, thus ensuring accuracy and identifying any discrepancies immediately.

When dealing with exceptions – such as trying to scan and receive an item not on the PO, or when scanning too many or too little of an item – a warning message will appear alerting the user. Users can then take the appropriate steps to finish processing the PO and to deal with any exceptions – for example, keeping the PO open if an item was under-scanned but you still expect to receive it from your supplier in a different shipment.

When using Blue Link’s mobile scanning app for picking, employees can pull up an electronic pick list on the device, scanning items as they are picked while walking the warehouse floor. If necessary, during the pick process, users can drill down into specific inventory details to get more information such as the overflow locations in the warehouse. If a user accidentally tries to pick the wrong product or too much of an item, an error message will appear on the barcode scanning device alerting the employee. Once an order has been picked and submitted, it will automatically remove the pick list as an option from the device to ensure another employee does not try to pick the same order. Back in Blue Link, the order will update to show any discrepancies in what was picked and what was on the original order for further action. Employees can then pack and ship the order.

(5) Always Get the Best Shipping Rates

For automation during the shipping process, Blue Link works with 2Ship to help our customers do a variety of things including getting the best shipping rates, consolidating shipments and printing labels. Since 2Ship integrates directly with Blue Link ERP, it allows you to complete all your shipping tasks from within one system. Users can quickly look up real-time shipping rates for each shipment you create – meaning you get a live view of what the best carrier would be for each shipment and how much it will cost. Once you choose the best option from the list, the system will generate shipping labels and any associated paperwork – without needing to log into a separate system.

(6) Automatically Email Invoices to Customers with ARM

Blue Link’s ARM (Automated Routines Manager) is a very powerful tool for creating automated workflows. Blue Link’s ARM allows you to automate a myriad of processes, including the ability to automatically email invoices from the system to customers when the sales order status changes to shipped. This removes the manual process of having to email invoices to customers and also allows you to automatically email other documentation such as shipping notifications and tracking information.

With ARM, you can automatically send multiple attachments to a single email address (such as an invoice and order confirmation information) or send information to multiple emails.

Other ways ARM can help automate processes include:

  1. Automatically populate Blue Link’s F3 notes when a report (such as a quote or invoice) is sent to the customer. This saves you from manually updating contact records every time you send information.
  2. Automatically send an “exception report” to your buyer/purchaser when inventory is getting low.
  3. Automatically email customer Statements with Accounts Receivables based on certain criteria to help with the collection process.
  4. Automatically change the status of an order based on criteria being met such as payment received.
  5. Automatically email spreadsheets to specific sales reps with their sales activity, commissions, etc.
  6. And many more!

These are a just a couple examples of how Blue Link ERP can help you automate processes to beat your competition. For more examples, or to get more information about the above, contact our team and we would be happy to help!