June 20, 2024

    How Technology Can Make Every Inch of Distributors’ Operations Better

    Every facet of a distribution business can be enhanced by investing in and implementing operational technology, but it can be hard to know where to start. Warehouses can get a boost from robotic pickers, while machine-learning-powered tools can help improve logistical efficiency.  

    But supply chain management is far from the only area distributors should consider — financial management, customer service, sales, and marketing can all be improved with powerful technology.  

    Here are the areas every distributor should be investigating: 

    Warehousing and Inventory Management 

    Warehouse automation is growing in popularity, and for good reason: Automated picking is up to three times more productive than pick-to-conveyer operations and up to six times more productive than manual pick-to-pallet. Warehouse robots are becoming more capable all the time, and while the upfront costs remain substantial, the long-term operational savings have made it worth the investment for more distributors.  

    On the back end, inventory management software is also getting stronger, offering real-time visibility. As automated systems in the warehouse make sure products are moving efficiently and accurately, these solutions can give distributors the insights they need to satisfy customers, reduce carrying costs, and pivot as needed. They can also improve logistics by optimizing delivery routes and improving order fulfillment operations, leading to happier customers.  

    Customer Service 

    Speaking of customers, distributors should be looking to make the entire customer experience frictionless. According to a Distribution Strategy Group panel, that could mean using tools to provide personalized content to B2B shoppers or using AI to help counter reps take accurate, comprehensive notes on what the customer wants.  

    Ultimately, B2B shoppers are just B2C shoppers at work, and so they’ve come to expect a fluid and consistent omnichannel experience. By using tools that equip every customer-facing rep with accurate, up-to-date information, distributors can meet those expectations, ensuring greater loyalty.  

    Sales and Marketing 

    Platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales can help any distributor’s sales team use data to make decisions that drive conversions and deepen customer relationships. Sales have traditionally relied on individual reps’ instincts and approaches that aren’t necessarily backed by numbers. For distributors that hope to grow, it’s important to streamline processes into something reliable and repeatable.  

    D365 Sales makes it easy for reps to see and manage their sales pipeline, engage customers with the right promotional material, and free up time they previously spent on tedious, time-consuming tasks like entering sales orders. There’s still a place for instincts, and relationships are still important — AI-powered solutions simply help reps hone those instincts and have more time and energy to stay engaged.  

    Financial Management 

    Sales tech really thrives when it’s combined with financial management tools built on a robust ERP system. A platform like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central not only offers user-friendly financial reporting tools, but it can also help distributors: 

    • Track profitability and optimize pricing to boost the bottom line 
    • Track expenses in real time 
    • Improve invoicing processes  
    • Manage accounts payables and receivables with greater efficiency 

    Business Central helps your accounting team by simplifying core functions, integrating with other apps like Outlook to process transactions via email, and providing powerful reporting tools to keep track of cash flow and identify financial patterns quickly.  

    The key is data visibility. Distributors generate a lot of data, but it’s not very useful if it’s siloed off in different servers across the company. D365 Business Central centralizes that data and makes it possible for people in any department to put it to good use—including accounting. Migrating to the Cloud can be a launchpad for business value, but it’s important to find an implementation partner who can help you achieve that value. 

    Not Sure Where to Start? Enavate Can Help 

    At Enavate, we not only know the ins and outs of the technology that’s emerging in the distribution space, but we also understand what distributors need to get the most out of that technology. To learn more about what we offer, reach out to our expert team today 

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