After the last couple of years, we’ve learned that as business owners we can no longer expect a timeline for when we get back to normal – and this means that we can’t afford to be complacent.
These challenging times have also brought into view the internal inefficiencies that many businesses have – and unfortunately, these internal problems have heightened the external ones for many wholesale & distribution businesses.
So how can businesses plug their gaps and find new ways to adapt to the ongoing disruption?
Internal challenges are making external ones even worse
As we go into our third turbulent year, many businesses are realising that they’re facing several internal threats that make them vulnerable to disruption in their:
- Supply chain: without products being manufactured or delivered in a timely manner, businesses are increasingly losing customers. These leaks are occurring primarily due to supply chain challenges, but are heightened by poor planning and communication.
- Stock: whatever stock businesses do have is going quickly – without the ability to quickly replenish or find new ways to sell due to poor visibility and a lack of preparation; and
- Pricing: prices are increasing dramatically for everything from products to shipping and warehouses. But businesses are unable to make up for this in profits due to continuous leaks and delays.
While these challenges have affected most businesses, the ones that are finding it most difficult to cope with are the ones with poor internal stock and management processes in place. So, what is the cause of these poor practices and how can they be fixed?
Why are these vulnerabilities becoming more obvious?
For many businesses, their previously high margins in more stable periods have hidden the problems and poor practices within the business – and without stability and profit growth in the last few years, business owners have become far more aware of internal inefficiencies.
Some of these internal inefficiencies have naturally occurred as the business grew and wasn’t able to scale or expand as smoothly as needed, and so these internal problems have slowly become ingrained in the business.
These problems often appear in the software that businesses use. These cobbled-together systems and manual spreadsheets make it harder to have real-time visibility over the business, detect and prevent leaks, or identify trends and opportunities.
Unfortunately, there’s no more time left to delay for businesses to start improving their processes. Without better processes in place, it will be much harder to mitigate the supply and stock difficulties and increase the resilience of the business.
Could one business application improve business practices?
As businesses grow, many of them are hesitant to let go of their original software and applications due to familiarity with the systems. But this makes it all the harder to conduct business without mistakes.
So, if internal software is holding the business back, it’s time to look at how to connect your systems together again and create better practices.
One way to do this is with an ERP that’s customisable to your business. Some of the key functions that can give you back visibility and build processes are:
- Real-time analytics: having a real-time view into your business will ensure that you have better control over it, are aware of things as they happen, and can identify complications before they get worse;
- Workflows: having set workflows for customer interactions and sales ensures that your business starts building better processes so that nothing gets lost or disorganised; and
- Customer relationship management: having a full and accessible view of your entire customer base makes it much easier for your people to be aware of previous interactions and history – all the better to tailor your customer’s experiences.
Each of these functions will help you to trap leaks and make you far more conscious of where things are going wrong so you can plug any gaps as they appear.
Better practices build agile businesses
While improving internal processes and systems may seem like a low priority when compared to some of the external challenges you’re facing, these are really the backbone of what makes your business functional and efficient – and agile.
This agility is what will allow your business to:
You’ll have the ability to pivot to new business models or ventures quickly in times of trouble. Increased visibility into your financials, your stock, and market demands allow you to make smart decisions quickly.
Whether there’s no longer a viable demand for your current products or you see an opportunity to pursue a trend, pivoting quickly is what will enable you to succeed in adapting to the changing market.
Being able to answer questions about your current stock, your plan for the next two years, or the location of your supplies in transit can help reduce your losses as you work to mitigate the effects of disruption, or if you need to build up or shift your stock.
Trap and prevent leaks
With better customer management in place to stop leakage, your business is less likely to lose customers with no notice. Additionally, these processes allow you to identify places where your customers are leaking and plug those gaps in a timely manner.
Improve your internal practices for better outcomes
It’s not always easy to take the first step to reduce inefficiencies – but the HARMONiQ team has spent over 30 years helping wholesale & distribution based businesses to optimise their processes, connect their systems, and find new growth with a fully customisable ERP.
If you’ve identified gaps or inefficiencies and would like to learn how to overcome them, you can contact our team today to discuss how to.