In response to recent events – both in the UK and globally – we explore how to find the best software for wholesale distribution, to navigate these uncertain times. Pressure throughout supply chains and the emergence of industry disruptors has sent ripples through the UK wholesale distribution sector. External forces, outside the control of business leaders, are reshaping the industry. Consequently, there are a multitude of challenges to overcome.
As a major contributor to the UK economy, and an integral part of feeding the nation, forward-thinking businesses are looking for ways to leverage technology to remain competitive. Wholesale distribution is a complex sector with no room for error and no room for delay. Employing almost 60,000 people across the country, the sector is heavily reliant on its workforce. Thin margins are easily eroded by error.
Top Tip 1. Integrating Software for Wholesale Distribution
The first place to start is integration. Removing complexity is key to eliminating error-prone, outdated practices. Whichever software company you choose to work with, they must be integration experts. For the most part, businesses wrangle with a patchwork of disparate software systems which do not communicate with each other. As a result, resources must be allocated to manual reconciliation, merging data sources to obtain a measure of performance, assess exposure or risk, and forecast.
The best software for wholesale distribution is fully integrated, automatically collating data from every business process in real-time, from any location. In practice, a single software system is used to access inventory in multiple warehouse locations which have a real-time connection to finance, purchasing, sales, marketing, and logistics. The need for manual data reconciliation, merging data from unconnected software applications, is eliminated.
Top Tip 2. Automating Sales Processes
There are two sides to this automation coin: speed and accuracy. First, manually inputting orders increases the potential for errors which will not be discovered until the customer rejects a delivery or requests the incorrect goods be uplifted and replaced. There are several unexpected and unwelcome costs here which directly affect revenue. Second, waiting for the 9-5 sales team to arrive and enter all the orders received through the night causes a delay of several hours. In that time, the warehouse team, who work through the night, could have already picked, packed, and despatched all the orders received outside office hours, if sales processes were automated.
When looking for the best software for wholesale distribution, make sure that multiple sales channels are integrated, including website and EDI, to automatically receive orders into the core business system. This eliminates manual order entry, ensuring orders are fulfilled quickly and accurately.
The beauty of integrated software for wholesale distribution, lies in its ability to incorporate myriad processes, resulting in an enhanced customer experience. Integrated product information management and real-time inventory means both sales staff and customers can work with accurate, up to date information. That means no errors and no disputes, just seamless order fulfilment with healthy margins.
Slimming World achieved just this, reaping immediate benefits from automated sales processes.
Top Tip 3. Total Warehouse Accuracy
Warehouse operations are often dominated by manual processes which not only allows inaccuracy to creep in, but also means achieving full traceability is difficult. To fool-proof picking and packing activities, forward-thinking wholesale distributors are equipping their warehouse operatives with handheld scanners.
The best software for wholesale distributors will include integrated handheld scanners supported by inventory management software, for the ultimate order fulfilment accuracy. This element of wholesale distribution software can tackle time- and weight-sensitive goods distribution, with the ability to invoice on weight. Furthermore, this software will alert operatives with an error warning should an incorrect item be scanned against an order.
Batch and serial number control are integral to complete traceability, from source to delivery. This level of control opens the door for distributors to enter supply chains with stringent traceability requirements. From purchasing to goods in and stock allocation to delivery, goods are tracked in real-time.
Read how Underwood Meat Company raised the bar in their perishable foods wholesale supply business.
Top Tip 4. Integrated Third-Party Logistics
This might sound basic, but 3PL integration can be a game-changer for warehouse operations. Manually inputting despatch data into third-party carrier systems to produce labels, is a common source of warehouse bottlenecks. The best software for wholesale distribution will seamlessly integrate your chosen carrier software and internal logistic systems.
The benefits are threefold. First, labels are produced with order data, delivery location, weight and other details, then automatically printed. This saves time and removes the margin for error. Second, delivery updates are received into the business system. Anyone in the business can track the progress of an urgent order and check when a delivery has been received. Sales teams can be confident their customer is receiving the service they expect. Third, goods are tracked right up to the point where the customer has their hands on the goods, and ownership transfers.
Top Tip 5. Role-Based Dashboard Development
An industry-specific wholesale distribution software solution will support efficient and effective use of data. Many business leaders feel the pressure to ensure their decisions are insight-led and that every department works smarter and leaner. The only way to achieve this is with access to genuinely useful insights.
Lack of useful data can be a barrier to growth. Therefore, the very best software for wholesale distribution will provide role-based dashboards and automated reports, bespoke to the individual business. A user interface should be designed for an individual role, with personalised reports based on a single data set, generated automatically. The implications are hard to ignore. Productivity, worker satisfaction, customer experience, and ultimately, revenue, all stand to benefit considerably, from access to genuinely useful insights.
Discover how Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce benefitted from tailored role configuration.
Bespoke Software for Wholesale Distribution
The true value of software for wholesale distribution, lies in the ability to connect an entire business and its processes into one, cohesive system. Complexity and inaccuracy are removed. Bespoke user configuration ensures data is available in a useful form, at any time and any place, fostering true business agility. Agile businesses can seize opportunities and navigate challenges, to stay one step ahead of their competitors.
Fully integrated and bespoke to the individual business, Kinspeed wholesale distribution software is proven to remove barriers to growth futureproofing business management for some of the best-known UK wholesale distributors.