[This article was written by Anica Oaks.]
Getting your goods from your warehouse into the hands of your customers is a big challenge. It’s a challenge, though, that is worth meeting, since your ability to overcome this challenge will ultimately determine the success of your business. The good news is that there are several technology solutions available that can help iron out the wrinkles in your distribution process to make it faster and less expensive.
Better Inventory Tracking
Keeping track of the inventory that you have on-hand is an important part of distribution efficiency. If you lose items on your warehouse floor, you could end up with late shipments to customers, leading to poor customer satisfaction. By putting in place solutions to help better track your inventory, you will experience less loss, resulting in a smaller impact to your bottom line. Plus, with just-in-time shipping, you may be able to reduce the size of your shipping facility, leading to even further efficiency gains.
Another way to increase your distribution efficiency is to utilize integrated tools that allow you to track multiple moving parts at the same time. Tools like NetSuite for wholesale distribution allow you to have an overview of your customers on both the front end and back end to ensure that your materials and products are flowing through the system as efficiently as they should. Having an overall view of your process ensures that you can quickly catch any problems before they turn into major delays.
Although many tasks within the distribution process can be automated, it’s hard to overstate the importance of your human resources. If you aren’t hiring enough people at the right times, though, your efficiency could suffer. That’s why it’s important to utilize technological solutions to forecast staffing needs to ensure you don’t hire too few or too many employees to get you through peak periods of demand. This will ensure that you’re able to scale your workforce effectively, resulting in efficient changes over time.
In a warehouse environment, it can be easy for employees to try and relax when they’re in the middle of a repetitive task. Unfortunately, many employees take this to the extreme, to the point that they’re not contributing meaningful work to the operation. If you employ surveillance equipment, such as drones, though, your employees will have far fewer places to hide, providing an incentive for them to work hard throughout their shift, leading to greater workplace efficiencies.
Most distribution efficiency gains require an investment of some kind. Whether time, money, or both, increased efficiency never happens by itself. It’s important, then, to strike a balance between the investment you make to increase efficiency and the efficiency gains that you’re able to realize. This will help you achieve the biggest financial gains as a result of your newfound efficiencies.