Wholesale distribution is a critical supply chain component that has undergone significant transformation lately. As the year 2019 unfolds, suppliers are leveraging advanced technology to integrate various enterprise units, transform operations, and grow revenue. They are finding it critical to digitize and share information across entire operations to facilitate access to relevant data in real time and the extraction of business intelligence on demand. Sales representatives in the sector have taken up advisory roles to help customers make informed purchase decisions, and smart chatbots have changed the way wholesale distributors handle customer concerns and orders. Let’s look at the opportunities that a connected warehouse opens for wholesalers.
How wholesale distributors have leveraged connected warehouses in the past
Using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, wholesale distributors have obtained full visibility into the supply chain, enabling them to track products in real time and satisfy diverse customer preferences on demand.
They can connect various business departments technologically, from customer relationship management, warehousing, and procurement to sales and accounting. With the right information available at the right time, these companies are improving inventory and pick accuracy as well as on-time and in-full delivery. They realize the ability to control stock levels and plan procurement based on predictive analytics.
Opportunities for wholesale distributors to realize a connected warehouse in 2019
Both small and midsize wholesale distributors need a connected warehouse to organize inventories as well as track and move supplies and merchandise efficiently. As intermediaries between manufacturers and retailers or other channels of distribution, they can deploy a single cloud-based ERP system to integrate various supply chain functions and streamline costs. Here are typical integrations in wholesale distribution:
- Customer experience: To stay competitive, wholesalers need to connect CRM, sales, and procurement to study buying patterns and predict demand, implement targeted marketing, and address specific customer preferences. Linking e-commerce storefronts with ERP minimizes operational and inventory costs while enhancing customer service and improving financial reporting.
- Third-party add-ons: With a scalable ERP platform, wholesalers have a robust technological foundation for expanding their digital footprint and incorporating additional technologies that streamline various operations. For example, they can use embedded Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to track stock movement or integrated drone systems to speed up delivery.
- Freight company integrations: Transport plays a vital role in the supply chain, making it essential for wholesalers to share relevant product and customer information with their carrier services. These distributors can realize a connected warehouse by integrating ERP with an application that streamlines dispatching procedures, availing the means to communicate with their preferred freight companies for the efficient delivery of consignments to customers.Freight integrations let distributors pass on routing information for each customer and select the party responsible for shipping costs. It also simplifies the booking of carrier services.
- Reinventing business processes: ERP software provides wholesale distributors with the means to digitalize, integrate, and reinvent enterprise workflows. Interconnected ordering channels, including text messaging, contact centers, and e-commerce storefronts, enable these businesses to deliver goods and satisfy customer needs on demand. Sales and marketing integrations provide data to drive consumer insights and inform customer segmentation or profiling.
Wholesalers can also optimize profitability with predictive analytics. ERP provides an enterprise-wide view of data, enabling the companies to forecast demand and purchase patterns. It enables these distributors to replenish their inventories accordingly and in time and put the right promotional information in front of targeted customers.
Wrapping it up
A cloud-based ERP platform offers wholesale distributors lucrative opportunities to implement a connected warehouse in 2019 and streamline the sourcing of goods from manufacturers and delivery to customers. By integrating the supply chain, freight companies, third-party add-ons, finance, procurement, CRM, and other business-critical digital workflows, wholesalers can create new revenue streams, optimize profitability, and reduce operational costs.
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