Outsmart the Industry: Changing the Way Distribution Works

Amar Kulkarni
By: Amar Kulkarni
Date: April 10, 2017

According to analysts at IDC, this year’s top initiatives for distributors include increasing revenue and productivity while reducing costs. The key to improving in any of these areas is to know your customers almost better than they know themselves.

Technology that can give you better customer insights while decreasing costs and improving supply chain processes is vital as the industry becomes more global and competitive. Now is the time to make investments that will allow you to streamline, automate, and modernize your business – smarter and faster than anyone else.

Software that Understands

Legacy enterprise systems forced distributors to make the choice between functionality and flexibility. Meeting all of an organization’s needs meant high customizations just to get the functionality required. Modified systems brought their own problems including difficult upgrades and the need for resources with higher levels of technical sophistication due to software configurations.

As the needs of distributors have changed over the years, the software available to address them has evolved as well. Industry-specific and micro-vertical specific technology that understands the needs of its users has greatly reduced the need for modifications, better meeting the needs of distributors.

End Inventory Headaches

Dead stock and orphaned non-stock are only two inventory nightmares organizations may see on a daily basis. Advanced Inventory Management (AIM) uses data-driven technology to provide a more comprehensive inventory management system. AIM allows for more accurate demand prediction and more effective cost management. When inventory management is automated, organizations experience lower costs due to increased efficiency and reduced errors.

Automated inventory not only benefits internal business processes, but also customer interactions. For example, organizations can replenish the customer’s warehouse inventory without requiring them to place an order, ensuring they have access to materials where and when they are needed. With distributor-managed inventory, forward thinking distributors are able to forge closer bonds with their customers by proactively responding to their needs and function as cohesive unit with a more effective workflow. Modern software applications are making it easier for distributors to integrate value added services like light manufacturing, assembly, private labeling and others.

Communicate Collaboratively

In a recent Tip Tuesday post, we gave an overview of the smartest app you didn’t know your business needed, or even might not be utilizing. Infor Ming.le™ is a social user interface tool, allowing organizations to move easily between Infor applications, serving as an information hub for improving the work experience. Allowing users to communicate in ways similar to popular social networking sites, Infor Ming.le increases productivity and improves decision making, as well as capturing corporate knowledge across the organization beyond geographies, borders and boundaries.

Mobile and off-site ERP access allows access to mission-critical business functions from anywhere with an internet connection. Leveraging mobile tools to improve service levels, transmit orders, and manage customer product orders or configurations can drive incremental sales and profits. This also helps attract top talent, who are used to working in a digital atmosphere, rather than dated, static workbooks.

As the distribution industry continues to rapidly grow and evolve, now is not the time to sit on technology investment plans. A new generation of owners, managers, and customers expect to benefit from powerful, easy-to-use software and applications in the workplace.

Amar Kulkarni is vice president manufacturing and distribution at Avaap. He works with leading distribution organizations to implement Infor M3, PLM and other Infor software solutions to make their technology strategies succeed.

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