The Warehousing & Distribution Sector has seen a lot of change over the past few years, and for many companies, this has had a huge effect on staff productivity. Find out how, with the right technology, eCommerce solution and attitude, you can improve this vital area of your business.
While eCommerce remains a huge opportunity for success for many industries, in the Warehousing and Distribution sector it has presented some significant challenges as well as opportunities. The eCommerce side of business has created a disparity between the number of orders and the physical distribution capabilities, pushing the infrastructure of many businesses to their limits. The need to adapt has been immediate.
Expectation vs reality
There are many factors surrounding the changing customer expectation which has led to issues with the physical capabilities that a distribution centre can provide. The need for consistently high levels of customer satisfaction has meant that those who do not meet such expectations at every interaction are no longer considered for future purchases. This has led to an increasing emphasis on loyalty, which is being given to only a handful of brands. In retaliation, more and more companies have begun to exhibit the one-stop-shop model.
In an effort to appear the best option, businesses are increasingly widening their product offering. These online businesses need to then support and maintain this huge amount of merchandise on offer, while balancing costs and adhering to the exacting standards of the consumer who demands 100% customer service at every touchpoint.
Your eCommerce solution can go a long way to alleviating problems such as these; as I have written in previous articles, it can help to streamline all of this management so that it can all be controlled from one central, intuitive content management system. However, your eCommerce solution can also help to enhance things like staff productivity even in these unpredictable industries.
More and more businesses who do not invest in the eCommerce experience to create an engaging environment for the user are feeling the effects. Staff productivity is one area where many companies feel their eCommerce solution cannot help them, but there is so much that the right solution can do for you and your staff.
Improving staff productivity
Having an eCommerce solution which isn’t built to meet your complex needs as a supplier can give way to a whole host of problems for your staff. If your system is built outside of SAP and requires integration, this can lead to a lot of down-time but also a heavy reliance on IT. This reliance isn’t just felt by your workforce on the shop floor, who find themselves unable to process new orders, but by your marketing team who aren’t able to action business development strategies, by your finance department who have incorrect figures, and so on.
Then there is the frustration of data entry; your entire business will need to double the time it takes to input new data into your system, because if your system isn’t built within SAP, you need to duplicate it across platforms. Otherwise, your customers could be getting a totally different view of your site; they see an item is in stock and purchase it only to be told it is no longer available because the system was not working in real-time with the information stored in SAP. You just lost yourself a valuable contract.
All of these factors have implications for your employees, and can drastically affect both their own productivity as well as that of your business. It will leave them frustrated by the time-consuming efforts they must put into order management, data entry and so on, while your resource efficiency is depleted further each time. Recently, there have been huge leaps forward in technology for the sector, and if you invest wisely alongside the right solution, you will find that the combination could do wonders for your business.
Let’s look at an industry example…
There was a company we helped recently who massively benefitted from implementing this kind of technology. They wanted to simplify the manner in which their customer-base worked out what stock was required from them, and how an order was then efficiently placed. The main goal was to help their customer-base increase internal staff productivity, both impressing their clients and ultimately building brand loyalty.
They opted for hand-held scanners; this is an up-and-coming idea in the Warehousing & Distribution sector, with many companies turning to mobile solutions to improve efficiency. The company supplied the staff of their client’s businesses with these scanners, so that they could simply walk around the warehouse scanning the barcodes of the items they required. This would generate an order for the required goods to be sent to their provider (i.e. our client). The entire system is in real-time so there are no concerns over inaccurate data due to integration. By enabling them to upload these orders instantly, with this being managed and monitored by their eCommerce solution, they were making it easier for themselves as well as their customer.
Supplying them with relatively inexpensive scanning technology meant that it increased staff empowerment, ease of use and therefore productivity. However, the benefits for the supplying company are huge in terms of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, as they could be for you!
If you’re in the Warehousing & Distribution Industry and would like to know more about how our eCommerce solution could do the same for you, then please get in touch!