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Posted By:  ECT News Network on 02/27/2020 in Enterprise Software

How Distributors Can Increase Efficiency and Support Growth

How Distributors Can Increase Efficiency and Support Growth

Charlie Laurie 

It is a critical time for manufacturers and distributors to embrace technology that reduces administrative and unnecessary tasks. With nearly 70 percent of them crediting the IoT for an increase in its profitability, this sector needs to start exploring options to increase efficiency within every process. 

This is of particular importance to specialty chemical distributors, a subset within the industry that has begun streamlining internal processes and outsourcing others to prioritize what's most important -- business transactions. 

No longer is distribution viewed as an "old-line" industrial trade, or merely an agent that supplies goods to businesses that, in turn, sell to consumers. Now, many distributors outsource formerly key components, such as warehousing and logistics, and focus more on the sales and marketing aspects of product distribution. As a result, the focus has shifted from managing movement to managing transactions.

Enterprise Resource Planning as a Conduit for Growth

That being said, distributors need a dynamic system that allows for a single, cohesive view of transactional data, and that supports burgeoning growth by growing in tandem with a company and its needs.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) technology solutions offer integrated management of main business processes, often in real-time and mediated by software and technology. Also, with scalability incorporated into modern ERP solutions, adding new systems and databases while maintaining speed and archival space is achievable. 

These ERP solutions allow for the consolidation of large sets of data from different sources, which in turn permits distributors to have a 360-degree view of every process and the effects therein. By using an advanced ERP solution, distributors have the ability to do the following:

1.    Make smarter, quicker decisions with a cohesive view of sales, product and customer data.

For modern distributors, an ERP solution is a channel to improve traceability, as well as customer and partner retention. This is mainly because ERP solutions provide the ability to gain, retain, and act on relevant market information, including where their products are, and what and where their competitors are selling. In many cases, ERP solutions allow users to access this data from different office and work locations, which speeds up productivity along with decision making.

And while the migration process to ERP can be taxing (as implementing a new system takes time), the juice is certainly worth the squeeze.

Following the migration, any and all data that was either inaccessible or spread throughout different systems is now accessible at any time and in any location. Additionally, once all data is in place, ERP solutions can use programmed algorithms that predict and automate future data input, ridding employees of a massive administrative burden.  

By collecting, organizing, and storing data, ERP solutions give sales and marketing teams, analysts and manufacturers a "single source of truth" when it comes to tracking distributions.

2.    Understand where the business stands in the market.

Using an ERP system, distributors can track their resources -- e.g., cash, raw materials, personnel and production capacity -- in real-time, providing the team with a broader view of where it stands in relation to past years, future goals and competitors.

It also provides insight into a company's commitments in comparison to its resources. Should a company need to shift plans quickly due to a shortage in stock, ERP systems assist in the transition.

3.    Enter new markets seamlessly and effectively.

Since ERP solutions allow a holistic view of market and customer needs, they make it easier for distributors to expand into new markets. Users can understand not only the demand in a new location but, subsequently, the resources they have in stock to meet the demand.

Also, an ERP system takes into account local legislation compliance, currencies and languages for quick integration into new markets. Factors such as time differences or local regulations are accounted for instantly, reducing overall time spent and the opportunity for human error.

Investing in technology for business acceleration is a necessity in the current corporate climate. For distributors, whose focus has shifted in recent years, transforming with the times is crucial for survival. They can remain ahead of the curve with a next-gen, data-driven ERP solution that encourages growth and enables a broader view of the market.

About the Author
Charlie Laurie is chief innovation officer at Palmer Holland.


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