#1 Make sure you're controlling your stock levels
Nothing hits a distribution business harder than over-ordering stock and housing a tonne of inventory on the shelf that can’t be sold.
Businesses that can’t control their inventory end up having massive cash flow issues. Gaining a competitive edge means controlling your stock and inventory levels to keep your cash flow healthy.
To do this, evaluate just how you order at the moment. Is it in a manual spreadsheet? Do you have disconnected systems that don’t talk to each other? And how long have you had particular items on the shelf for? Do you have visibility of your transaction history?
Leveraging technology helps you really understand what stock you have and what you need in real-time. You’ll be able to order the right items, ship them out faster to your customers, and get the edge on your competitors.
#2 Get clarity on imported goods and stock costs to make better decisions
Not being able to account for importing costs when shipping goods to Australia can be a big headache for distribution businesses.
Especially if you’re trying to keep up with ever-changing foreign exchange rates, have multiple currencies and multiple warehouses to manage.
If you can’t account for fees and shipping costs, your budget can blow out.
With the right technology, you can see just how much you’re actually spending on inventory and on holding stock. So you can streamline your ordering, keep inventory lean and plan ahead, with no surprise invoices to worry about.
#3 Keep your customers happy and loyal by getting the right stock to them... sooner
Customers have higher expectations than ever. They expect to receive things sooner and know exactly when they’ll receive their order. Your competitors are leveraging the latest technology to provide the best possible experience for their customers - are you? Do you know how long it usually takes to get stock out to your customers?
Many distribution businesses are stuck in the stone age - they manually process a purchase order on paper and need to run around asking people exactly when the order will be delivered. They have no tracking and nothing’s automated. Which means it takes longer to get the right information or stock to the customer in good time.
By automating your purchase order process, your staff can easily submit an order, your team can then quickly fulfil the order, and you can drop ship it directly to the customer. Plus, you can send them a confirmation email for the order including exactly when they can expect to receive it.
#4 Review inefficiencies and re-invest in ways that will help you grow
Many distribution businesses tend to fill inefficiencies with more headcount. If your business is heavily manual, you probably have two full-time admin staff dedicated to managing financial and operational processes. Your competitors don’t.
By using technology to automate these manual tasks, you can speed up those processes and free your people to focus on more meaningful work.
This will allow you to reinvest back into the business in areas of growth that you know will help you scale, like sales and marketing.
#5 Be adaptable for your customers and prepare for the future
Customers are becoming more and more tech savvy. They’re used to eCommerce platforms and are more sophisticated in how they buy and interact with suppliers. Using the latest technology to meet their needs just makes sense.
When you’re looking at technology to manage your business, think about ways in which you can adapt to your customers’ and your growing business’ needs.
Do you have a complete picture of your business when you need it? Can you see your inventory clearly? Set up approval workflows? And improve high inventory purchases to meet supply and demand?
Be prepared to fulfil orders online. Make sure you have easy access to customer orders to give them real-time updates on delivery. And look at ways to improve your inventory and customer insights across your teams.
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