How mobile is transforming the distribution marketplace
When it comes to helping distributors and their customers keep up with the accelerating pace of business, it really doesn’t get much better than mobile and mobility.
It isn’t that mobile devices are anything new. What’s changed is the overwhelming reach that smart phones and tablets have achieved in the business environment. And the new, more powerful uses that have shifted from momentous to mainstream in little more than a heartbeat.
It’s hard to imagine how recently a clipboard packed with hand-scribbled forms and scraps of paper was the state of the art for sharing data and information on the orders that are the lifeblood of any business transaction. Those days are gone, never to return. And that means you’re missing out on an important competitive advantage if you haven’t built the latest mobile technology tools into your day-to-day operations.
Confirming delivery in real time
Real-time confirmation for physical delivery solves one of the most persistent problems for distributors and their customers. By capturing order details and proof of delivery signatures and loading them directly to the ERP, the right mobile software saves time and adds efficiency for all concerned.
For drivers, the right proof of delivery system puts all the essential information on a single, convenient, mostly weatherproof device. Which makes it a big improvement over stacks of pick tickets or delivery documents that could be damaged in the course of a day’s deliveries, then required valuable in-house staff time to transcribe into an older tracking system.
For customers, proof of delivery eliminates those terrible moments of confusion when shipping and receiving staff or end users just aren’t sure whether they actually received a delivery. And for the distributor who knew the order was complete, immediate access to a complete, reliable record cuts down on costly back-checking, whether a complaint was honest or frivolous.
Warehouses without walls
Imagine enabling your customers to manage inventory from their storeroom. Or even from their service or delivery trucks. If you aren’t yet taking advantage of mobile storeroom systems, chances are your competitors are…which means they’re one phone call away from telling your customer about a breakthrough mobile technology they should have heard about from you.
Mobile storeroom software is about more than supplying product. It helps you help your customer do their job better, by putting mission-critical items closer at hand before they even realize they need them. It’s partly about delivering goods that your customers have promised to their end users. It might also involve replenishing products or supplies that make it possible for them to run their production lines.
Either way, mobile storeroom gives you the advanced functionality to reach inside a customer’s business and help them streamline their minute-to-minute operations. Which means that, before long, you become more than a vendor. Your best accounts gradually realize that you’ve become an essential and irreplaceable cog in their supply and value chain.
Turbo-charging your sales team
For customers, your sales team is often the most obvious face of your business. Mobile devices can put complete account records at an account manager’s fingertips, making it easy for them to view customer history, check inventories, negotiate prices, and take and place orders on the spot.
Speeding up the process saves as much time for your customers as it does for you. And seeing their sales rep operating so quickly and efficiently in a technology-enabled system conveys exactly the company image you want your buyers to have. If they’re thinking of you as a smart, up-to-date supplier with the tools to help them get what they need, then get on with their day, it makes the relationship “stickier” and more durable in a tough, competitive marketplace.
Software makes the difference
All of these examples have two essential features in common: A user within your organization who no longer has to sit at a desk to do their job, and an ERP that is written in a way that makes it relatively easy to share mission-critical data via smart phone or tablet. Over time, mobility is bringing ERP to life in ways that may not have been possible, or even imaginable, even a decade ago.
That’s an advantage that no distributor can afford to do without. And it’s a unique opportunity to shift your business relationships from transaction to strategy, using mobile technology to deliver the services and supports your customers need and expect.