Benefits of Automation: Customer Experience

Danielle Lobo

Imagine placing an order online and when it finally arrives, it turns out to be a completely different product than you were expecting. Disappointing, isn’t it? If you can find what you’re looking for somewhere else, you probably won’t order from that company again. As a wholesaler or distributor, if you’re using manual processes then you probably understand why mistakes like this happen. In a manual environment, you likely have different systems put in place that require the re-keying of data by an employee and this process alone can cause many issues and be prone to human error. But, you need to remember that your customer doesn’t see the back-end of your business and if their order isn’t correct or on time, they likely won’t be ordering from you again.  If manual processes are affecting your customer experience, it’s time to look into the benefits of automation to help your business grow and your customers stay. Blue Link’s ERP Software and built-in features such as ARM (Automated Routines Manager) are designed for wholesalers and distributors like you to assist with reducing manual processes, automating tasks and growing your business.

Why Customer Experience Matters:

It’s not unknown that the eCommerce industry is at its prime and continues to grow. During the Covid Pandemic in 2020, it was estimated that global eCommerce sales reached well over $4 trillion (that’s a lot of online shopping!). People didn’t have many in-person options during this time and some even enjoyed the convenience of not having to find parking spots or wait in lines. As the world returns to the “new normal”, we see stores opening again and people going out, but we don’t anticipate much of a decline in online sales as shown in the graph below.

Retail eCommerce Sales Worldwide 2019-2024

This is important to recognize as a wholesaler or distributor because a focus on eCommerce should be one of your priorities. As you have probably experienced yourself, online shopping is a little different than shopping in person. Whether you’re out on a mission or window shopping, in-person sales have a lot to do with visible inventory and salespeople’s assistance. It’s usually no big deal if you have to wait a minute or two to ask a salesperson if they have a particular t-shirt in your size. Could you imagine waiting two minutes to find out if an online store had the inventory you are looking for? Absolutely not! As consumers, we expect online inventory levels to be up to date in real-time. This is a good example to explain that today, customer experience must be a consideration at every touchpoint a potential customer has with your company, including your website, your mobile applications, and your entire customer service process.  Automating your processes in the back-end is a great first step when putting a focus on customer experience.

Some benefits of automation that directly affects customer experience are:

  • Inventory management
  • Productivity and efficiencies
  • Reduced lead times

Inventory Management

As mentioned above, it is important to be able to see live inventory levels. When a company is using manual processes, and a customer places an order online, frequently, an employee is then responsible for manually changing the inventory levels on the back-end as well as on the website. Sounds like it wouldn’t take too long but if only a few employees are doing this and a few hundred orders are coming in, it can be a lot to expect them to input all the data in a timely manner let alone correctly. Manual processes are prone to human error and if even one mistake is made or an employee forgets to update the information, and a new customer is affected by that mistake, it could cost the company money fixing or replacing the order. Having proper inventory management software such as Blue Link ERP will allow you to integrate your back-end system directly to your website so that inventory information automatically flows bi-directionally between the two systems without any human interference.

Productivity and Efficiencies

It can get difficult to help out a customer if information about sales and service lives on different systems or even different spreadsheets. Automating the customer journey process with a contact management feature allows for anyone on your team (whom you want to have access to) to look up customer history, information and location all on one screen. This can shorten the customer’s call with the intention of answering the question or resolving the issue in the minimum amount of time possible. The proper system will also allow you to automatically send information to customers about their account status and can automatically email salespeople to follow up with specific customers about new promotions and products.

Reduced Lead Times

Right from the time the customer places an order on your website all the way to when they receive their order is considered lead time. Keeping track of lead time is a great way to measure efficiencies in your warehouse, especially with picking, packing and shipping. This is another area that can be easily automated with Blue Link’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) which includes barcode scanning to ensure the right product is picked and shipped every time, consolidated pick slips and bin/shelf location tracking making it easy for an employee to pick products following the most efficient route in the warehouse, and allows for integration with major shipping carriers which will eliminate the need to re-key data into multiple systems.

Switching from multiple systems and manual processes to one all-in-one ERP System like Blue Link means you will be able to manage all aspects of your company’s operations. Not only does automating manual processes save time and reduce costs, but it also assists with the customer experience allowing a seamless journey from purchase to delivery.