Moving merchandise faster has a lot of benefits to the end customer, to the retailer, and especially to the wholesaler. Most of the low hanging wholesale business improvements are already in place, improvements like smart warehousing, bar-coding, racking and material handling equipment, better labeling, easy packaging, better transportation with same day or overnight deliveries, and all kinds of special purpose software that speeds up the process of getting merchandise to where it’s needed.
A wholesaler derives a lot of benefits from improving overall order management speed. None of these benefits is dramatic by itself, but together they add up to genuine business performance improvements – among them are
Warehouse space reduction. Even a small reduction in merchandise in the warehouse can be valuable, especially true with high bulk-to-value goods. Maybe this recovered space creates room for another small product line or permits a small delay in adding additional warehouse space.
Warehouse congestion relief. A small reduction in warehouse congestion might allow goods move a little bit more fluidly. Maybe this produces more elbow room for circulation or more shelf space for better placement of products within the warehouse or more productive space for the people who make things happen.
Cash flow improvement. Any improvement in faster delivery has to produce a corresponding speed-up in getting paid. Some wholesalers have been able to achieve an improvement exceeding one full day of cash receipts.
The missing piece often is automated order entry software. The features described below are specific to processes used by companies running QuickBooks, but the concepts apply for any business/accounting software. A good order management system can be operated by sales reps and customers and it should provide other features, each of which can contribute to faster better service to customers. Among those features for QB eCommerce are:
Customers and reps can place orders directly into the wholesaler’s QuickBooks back-office system to the extent of each order-placer’s permissions, saving some time and labor in processing incoming orders.
All incoming orders are fillable because the rep or customer has been able to look at quantities on hand, the specific pricing that applies to that customer, and the order histories of each customers and each items.
Incoming orders tend to be error-free since they follow a defined format. Time-savings result from the home office crew spending less time talking with order placers and determining how to fix their errors.
The status of each existing order is visible to the buyer and the rep, so no phone calls or emails will be asking about ship dates or carrier data.
Credit limits and credit holds can be implemented automatically, again eliminating the need for conversation.
Automatic warehouse notification saves time by instantly telling the warehouse about each new required shipment.
If only a few of these elements were in place, would your distribution business be improved? It’s quite possible that the biggest improvement would be improved satisfaction of customers who are dazzled by the unexpected gain in speed of service from a vendor who does everything well.
Photo Credit: Toyota Material Handling EU via Flickr