Leveraging inventory management software to increase visibility and reduce costs

Most businesses would say that increasing productivity and boosting profits are two things that are vitally important to them. However, most businesses also engage in inventory management techniques that are draining both time and money from their business.

Manual inventory control processes – which many businesses rely on – cost more than you might imagine. Manual processes result in increased stock holdings, the cost of labour to count it, lost productivity, compounding errors, and lost sales opportunities from customers left dissatisfied.

For inventory-heavy businesses like yours, having visibility over stock is vital to keeping customers happy and identifying cost-saving opportunities. Manual processes are never going to achieve that – but automation can.

Download HARMONiQ’s Effective Stock Management eBook to discover how to effectively manage stock in your business and control your inventory.

Are your processes creating hidden costs?

Billions of dollars of revenue are lost by inventory shrinkage every year in the warehousing, retail and distribution industries. In most cases, the losses I see are caused by errors and inefficiencies in inventory management.

Working with SME’s across Australia and New Zealand, here are some of the most common costly processes I see.

Inaccurate reporting

Exception reporting – or the difference between expected and actual performance of your inventory – helps control costs and tighten margins. But completing this manually requires endless data entry, stock and data reconciliation. Not only time-consuming, this process has a high incidence of human error – and just one mistake can skew the results of an entire report.

Random ordering:

When you’re relying on estimations, changing paperwork and guess work to complete stock orders, the chances of getting it right are slim. You risk ordering not enough of what you need, too much of what you don’t – and not being able to deliver what your customers want.

Delayed stock control:

Stocktake has always been an important part of inventory management, but it’s often too little, too late. Manual stocktaking tells you little more than what you have and what you don’t – it gives no insight into why losses are occurring, or what you can do to minimise them.

Manual workflows

Workflows from stock replenishment to late delivery notifications to suppliers are still being completed manually – costing your workforce priceless hours and productivity.

When you rely on manual processes to carry out a big task like inventory management, there is the chance for mistakes at every step. These errors are all costing your business money – and they only compound as time goes by.

Inventory in warehouse

Guesswork means you risk ordering not enough of what you need, and too much of what you don’t

The importance of stock visibility

The common theme in all the problems resulting from inventory management is visibility – specifically, a lack of it. Time intensive, paper-based management systems restrict the visibility of stock across your business.

To successfully order, manage and sell stock, you and your staff need to know:

  • What stock you have on hand, and what needs to be ordered
  • Where this stock is located, and if it can be transferred between warehouses
  • When a delivery is coming or going
  • How much is being delivered, being bought or being moved

This visibility of what, when, where and how builds a bigger picture and can ultimately tell you what many manual processes can’t – the WHY.

Inventory management in warehouse

Stock visibility allows for better inventory reporting, planning and ordering

Automate your inventory management

Automation makes the ‘why’ of inventory management completely transparent. By replacing manual process and disparate systems with inventory management software, you can automate and integrate your systems – from POS, to ordering, to reporting – to give all staff 100% visibility of inventory data.

By leveraging automation with inventory management software, you can achieve:

  • Precision ordering
  • Appropriate up-selling and cross-selling
  • Accurate reporting
  • Timely variance investigations
  • Automated workflows

And that’s just to name a few – all of which are going to decrease unnecessary expenditure and boost productivity.

In fact, studies have shown that an integrated inventory system results in a 7.5% decrease in the frequency of out-of-stock inventory. That’s an immediate opportunity for increased sales.

Organisations driven by effective inventory control have the edge over their competitors because increased visibility allows them to eliminate inefficiencies and minimise excess – decreasing costs and improving customer satisfaction.

Download the HARMONiQ: Effective Stock Management eBook today as your next step guide to becoming an organisation driven by optimised inventory control.

If you would like to see the impact effective stock management can have on your business, then click to request a demo of HARMONiQ and I’ll be in touch shortly.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the inventory management in your business, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.

Downfalls of manual stock inventory control

How inventory management software is solving the 3 big problems of manual stock control

Every aspect of your business is important, but stock could be considered the backbone of the whole operation. After all, it’s what your customers come for – and what brings in the profit.

Unfortunately, I see many businesses that don’t treat their stock like the valuable asset it is. Of course, no-one does this on purpose – but the common practice of manual stock control can cause more damage than you may realise.

In 2016 alone, it was estimated that a staggering $4.5 billion was lost due to inventory shrinkage in Australia’s retail, warehousing and distribution sector.

Download HARMONiQ’s Effective Stock Management eBook

The losses don’t stop with physical stock either. They extend to the opportunities you’re failing to pursue due to being unable to harness your stock data.

Are you losing more than you think?

The reason it’s so hard to notice when your stock is being mistreated is that manual processes have long been the norm, and technological improvements are ignored. And it’s more common than you might imagine – it’s how many inventory and distribution-based businesses run.

But as more businesses realise there are better ways to manage their stock, the more you’ll find yourself falling behind the competition with your manual processes. Here are three reasons why.

1. You lose more – and you don’t know why

Inventory shrinkage is a part of business – but how much is too much? It’s estimated that Australian wholesalers and retailers lose an average of 1.24% total turnover per year.

A lot of this loss is to do with mistakes that stem from manual stock control, including:

  • Damaged stock
  • Missing or wrongly stored items
  • Mislabelling
  • Miscounting
  • Ordering too much or too little

Manual handling isn’t the only problem. When all your inventory information is recorded through paperwork, it could take weeks – or longer – to find where a problem originated. This makes your chance of identifying and rectifying your shortcomings very slim.

2. Staff are working harder, but achieving less

Nothing in your business works in isolation. Every process and action rely on another to make the business work. However, manual inventory control can have a staccato effect on the overall process.

Errors in stock management can lead to an extensive knock on effect, making it hard for your staff to achieve efficient workflows or see purpose and results of their actions.

This is caused by:

  • Poor visibility over inventory, availability and/or deliveries
  • Detailed and arduous tasks that increase the risk of human error
  • Unclear communication between departments, or between two staff in a supply chain

This often results in physical stocking errors, such as over and under purchasing and restocking. It also creates confusion across the business, with sales reps selling unavailable stock and customers receiving incorrect orders.

Downfalls of manual stock inventory control

3. You’re left guessing what your customers want

Stock isn’t just about what you have, but what you can offer. The disconnect manual control creates between departments of your business mean you have limited visibility over your customers’ needs.

You’re likely to be holding onto dead stock and selling out of in-demand items with little to no warning, tying up capital in the process. Not to mention, incorrectly shaping customer expectations, and affecting your competitive place in the market at the same time.

These factors can all convince customers to go to another supplier – and stay there.

Work smarter, not harder with inventory management software

It can be hard to change from what you’re used to, but if you do what you’ve always done… well, you know the saying. By embracing modern technology, you’ll be able to move your business away from the ‘same old’ and into the future.

One such technology is inventory management software. The same way that manual processes restrict you, inventory management software can open doors to new opportunities and capabilities.

Whether it’s a sales team wanting insights into buying behaviour and popular lines, or a warehouse worker who needs to be able to find and deliver an item more efficiently, an inventory management system can help by delivering:

  • Accurate reporting and non-paper-based data for accurate and easy stocktake
  • Real time alerts of stock variances and easy identification of problem areas
  • Flagging discrepancies in performance
  • Insight into consumer behaviour and product demand

The capabilities of purpose-built software open doors not only in the management of physical stock, but the way that stock is communicated and viewed across the business.

automated inventory management

Don’t just apply – integrate, with HARMONiQ

A fully integrated inventory system like HARMONiQ recognises businesses individuality, while also working with the demands of the industry. Businesses that have implemented the technology have been able to eliminate or simplify labour intensive tasks and achieved tangible efficiency improvements:

  • 5% decrease in frequency of out-of-stock items
  • 95% of orders delivered complete and on time
  • 7 times more likely to find and access procurement data needed for decision making

HARMONiQ is an all-in-one platform with advanced inventory management functionality that can help you revolutionise your stock and inventory management.

With an integrated solution like HARMONiQ, you not only fast-track yourself to a competitive leader but embrace technology to better your business and protect your assets.

Download the HARMONiQ: Effective Stock Management eBook today as your next step guide on becoming an organisation driven by smarter warehousing—because your computer system should not be a barrier to implementing an effective stock management process.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the inventory management in your business, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.

Technology can help your buisness grow

Get the results of a big company with the resources of a small one using business management software

Big businesses don’t just start big – they’ve managed to grow over time to become the success stories they are today.

And while some of this can be put down to luck, perseverance or smart investing, there’s one factor that always contributes to their ongoing success – technology.

Traditionally, technology has been implemented by businesses when they become too big to manage manually. But this is no longer the case.

Small and medium sized businesses have started utilising technology to help them achieve the growth they desire – and continue using it to aid operations when they succeed.

Find out if an ERP system is the right move for your business by downloading our ERP Automation eBook

Getting stuck in small business patterns

Big businesses seem to always be in the know – they win sales, and stock the right products. They have carefully thought-out strategies and trackable growth projections.

But they also have more staff, collateral and finances. How can you possibly complete?

Often, I see SME’s get stuck in a pattern that stunts their growth, repeating the same behaviours:

  • Practicing reactive management, and dealing with problems as they happen
  • Relying heavily on manual processes
  • Missing sales opportunities and enquiry follow ups
  • Chasing up data but not having the time or knowledge to use it efficiently
  • Spending all their time running the business and not making time for future planning

Simply running everyday business and juggling your current needs means there’s no time left to strategically achieve business growth.

Technology can help your buisness grow

Relying on people power alone can hold your business back from growth

Big benefits of technology

This is where technology comes in. For those who can’t afford to hire the extra manpower, outsourcing your time-consuming and difficult processes to software is a great option.

But the right software won’t only free up your time, it’ll provide capabilities and insights that no amount of staff or manual expertise can deliver.

Create opportunities

Business management software with built in CRM can revolutionise how you sell your products. Yes, CRM’s can hold customer information, but they can do so much more. With the right software and integration, CRM can help you:

  • Engage your customers through personalised eMarketing
  • Give you sales insights to know who wants what – and when
  • Automatically respond to sales enquiries so you never miss an opportunity
  • Prompt existing customers with new stock lines or special offers

Increase efficiency and productivity

Managing inventory optimally is difficult when you’re relying purely on manual processes carried out by individual staff members. Good software can speed things up and minimise errors by:

  • Removing the chance for human error in reporting data
  • Alerting you when you need to re-order and automatically re-ordering stock
  • Noting dead or dying stock lines
  • Improving staff productivity and efficiency by removing slow manual tasks and streamlining workflows

Plan for the future

Analyse business data and use it to plan for growth. Business management software can help you create efficiencies by:

  • Uncovering trends that allow you to take a proactive approach to management
  • Improving visibility over all departments, processes and workflows to aid operational decisions
  • Tracking key performance metrics
  • Analysing data and business performance to accurately plan for the future

Business visibility and insights let you effectively plan for growth

Size really doesn’t matter

When it comes down to it, big businesses will always have more resources than smaller business. But you can achieve the same capabilities just by investing in one: business management software.

HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software is an all-in-one ERP solution that includes financials, inventory, sales, marketing and more.

As a truly customisable and scalable software, HARMONiQ can help you achieve growth – and will grow alongside you as you do.

If you would like to determine if an ERP system is the right move for your business, download our ERP Automation eBook to learn more.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging great technology to achieve significant efficiency improvements in your business, please call me on (02) 9542 2000 or email me at drew@micronet.com.au

 

Author bio

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping small businesses overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

CRMs help you understand your customers buying behaviour

How to use business CRM software to increase customer satisfaction – and profits

There’s no denying that if you want to grow your business, you need to grow your revenue. But this doesn’t necessarily mean putting all your effort into growing your customer base.

In fact, retaining and growing your existing customer base is more cost effective for your business than attempting to gain more customers.

Don’t go ditching the marketing budget and increasing your sales team’s upselling KPI’s too quickly, though. If you’re going to try and boost profits by utilising current customers, you need to effectively balance your wants with customer needs.

The best way to do that? Improve your customer service capabilities by utilising integrated business CRM software.

CRMs can increase customer satisfaction

Maximising the opportunities in your current customer base can be just as profitable.

When customer service gets left behind

A lot of businesses – especially those experiencing growth – can find it hard to manage their customer relationships.

Whether it’s failing to keep in regular contact or taking too long to follow up on a request, it’s not hard to find yourself slipping behind the service standard.

In this day and age, nearly every sales interaction people have is instant and personalised – and they’ve come to expect nothing less. If a customer isn’t receiving the service they expect, they’ll go somewhere else.

In my experience working with small and mid-sized businesses, the business processes that lead to poor customer satisfaction are common ones, including:

  • Disparate customer and sales data
  • Clunky or non-existent sales processes
  • An inability to interpret customer information
  • Reliance on manual procedures

Any one – or a mixture – of these problems means you’re not able to offer your customers high level service – and that you’re missing easy opportunities to maximise your profits.

Information is the key to success

The information you gain from customers with every interaction (like their preferences and buying habits) are invaluable to your business – it’s what you can use to your advantage to not only improve profitability, but take your customer service above and beyond.

But if this information is lost in a sea of bad processes, different systems and the memories of multiple sales people, you can’t use it to your advantage.

Being able to have easy access and reporting capabilities to interpret this data gives you and your team the immediate ability to:

  • Identify buying trends
  • Highlight cross selling opportunities
  • Offer your customers what they want before they even know what that is

You need to treat your data with the respect it deserves – and in return it will give you what you need to increase your customer satisfaction and in return, your profits.

CRMs help you understand your customers buying behaviour

Understanding your customers buying behaviour can be very advantageous for your business in the long term

Give your team a helping hand with HARMONiQ business CRM software

It’s easy enough to say, but actually harnessing your existing information to improve your service is hard to achieve without a quality, integrated CRM system.

HARMONiQ business CRM software supports your sales team by bridging any services gaps and handling tedious admin procedures, so your staff can get back to what they do best.

And how does this service upgrade increase your profits? Well, if you invest in a fully integrated ERP system like HARMONiQ, your CRM will work in conjunction with your existing system to provide unparalleled visibility and automation capabilities.

This will give you the ability to create and pursue selling opportunities that didn’t exist before.

  • Send automatic responses or follow ups, so you never miss a job request
  • Set up automatic reminders for regular customers, with the option to simply ‘reorder’ their usual products
  • Alert customers to newly available stock lines
  • Tell when an order is missed or deviates from the norm, so you can follow up
  • Create and enforce clear sales processes that can be followed by the entire team, so you never miss a sale

These are just a few of the ways HARMONiQ can help you optimise for exceptional customer service to achieve profit growth. As a truly customisable and scalable software system, HARMONiQ is designed to grow alongside your business.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging great technology to deliver exceptional, consistent customer service, let me know, or please call me on 02 9542 2000. Alternatively, you can request a free customised demo of our software below.

 

Author bio

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

Workflow automation

Utilising workflow automation software to improve productivity and profit

When we think about the factors that could be affecting the profitability of our business, our mind often skips straight to the big-ticket items – sales, cost structures or inventory.

While it’s important to consider these bigger aspects, we often forget to think about other smaller inefficiencies that could be present – practices that have become part of everyday business that are innocuously adding up.

Your staff are a significant but vital business cost. However, if you’re not helping your staff to do their job as well as they possibly can, you’re lowering the return on the money you’re investing into them.

Poor productivity is exacerbated by disorganised business structures reliant on manual processes. By adopting an integrated business solution that offers process automation, you can once and for all rid your business of inefficiencies and re-focus on your big-ticket items.

Discover how you can benefit from an all-in-one ERP system by downloading the free margin and cost control e-Book

From little problems, big ones grow

There could be several mistakes you and your staff are making every day that you didn’t even know are affecting productivity. Processes you see as “normal” are actually adding up to significant and unnecessary costs.

Some of the more common ones I see are:

Using staff as data collectors

Correctly storing and analysing data is important for determining business performance – but the way many businesses go about it is clunky and inefficient. Storing information across different systems, databases and/or spreadsheets means your staff are wasting time just trying to access the data – let alone actually going through it. On top of this, you risk data being entered multiple times, incorrectly or not at all. Remember, you’re paying for this time – and your business is relying on this data.

Process automation

Manual data entry is time consuming, expensive and error prone

Not establishing (or maintaining) best practice

Not establishing best practice processes can waste a lot of time and create inconsistency across the business. But even if you have spent the time establishing these processes, by not setting up a system that can communicate and enforce their use across all staff and procedures, you’ve wasted your time – and are allowing inefficient practices to continue to take place.

Wasting time and resources on manual processes

There are many tasks within your business that are tedious and time-consuming, but are incredibly important and necessary to keep everything running smoothly. By ignoring the option of automation and having staff undertake these processes manually, your business can face all sorts of issues that affect productivity and growth, including:

  • Wasted staff time
  • Higher wage costs
  • Neglect of other tasks
  • Lower staff morale

Eliminate inefficiencies by building a strong foundation

Checking, double checking and repeating every other job or process in your business will waste time and drive costs up exponentially – as well as frustrate everyone involved.

To avoid the economical and emotional costs of inefficient, manual processes, you need to establish a business environment where doublechecking isn’t required.

Automating previously draining manual processes by engaging an integrated business solution, will result in:

  • A centralised, accurate and easily accessible data system
  • A clear source of best practice and business procedures
  • Visibility across all workflows
  • Staff knowing exactly what they should be doing, why and how
  • Increased productivity through the elimination of laborious manual tasks
Workflow automation

Workflow automation increases productivity and decreases costs

Tick all your boxes with workflow automation software

Workflow automation software is an integrated business solution that can eliminate a lot of the problems that stem from staff inefficiencies that lead to poor ROI.

A well implemented workflow automation software that integrates all aspects of business – from financials to CRM to inventory and customer support – offers you the ability to:

  1. Easily identify inefficient processes, and correct them, saving you the costs of poor productivity
  2. Store and access all information in one system, so poor habits or confusion over procedure won’t be able to sneak back in.
  3. Empower staff to do their job – and do it well. Eliminating tedious manual tasks, gives staff the opportunity to excel at their job while helping the business succeed.

Finding the right software is key – each system is designed differently and ensuring full integration that supports your businesses and staff’s unique needs is paramount.

HARMONiQ is the first software in the industry that can be fully customised to your business. It provides simple but powerful capabilities that can grow and change as your business does – ensuring efficiency, productivity and profit opportunities can continue to increase.

Discover how you can benefit from an ERP system by downloading the free margin and cost control e-Book

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging integrated workflow automation software to achieve increased staff productivity and process efficiency in your business, please call me on (02) 9542 2000.

Author bio

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

ERP benefits

How to ensure effective ERP implementation

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

The idea of what a new ERP system and process automation can deliver for your business is exciting – but before you can experience the benefits, you need to undertake a successful implementation.

In our last blog, we talked about how to decide whether an ERP system is right for your business – if you’ve decided that it is, you’ll want to keep reading. Or, download HARMONiQ’s ERP automation eBook for a complete breakdown of ERP implementation techniques.

The transition period of system implementation is critical to the success of your ERP further down the line – simply investing in process automation technology does not guarantee you a seamless journey to success and growth.

Not only is an ERP system an investment of time and money but it will affect the way your employees do their job, the future capabilities of your business and your capacity for growth.

With stakes this high, successful implementation can prove to be make or break.

Poor approach, poor result

The ERP implementation itself can only fail if you allow it to. Taking a back seat and assuming your vendor and the technology can do all the work for you will result in:

  • Receiving a system that’s not right for you

During the implementation phase, your ERP vendor will work to customise the system to best suit your business needs (within the limits of the technology). Failing to establish specifically what you expect and need from your system – or focusing on the fancy features instead of must-haves – will see deliverance of a system that doesn’t meet your process automation needs and can’t be utilised to its full potential.

  • Not achieving your goals

If you can’t clearly outline what quantifiable targets you want to reach with the help of your ERP system, chances are that not only will it be difficult to customise, but you could face problems convincing your staff to get onboard with such a big change. If you don’t know what your goals are, you should be reassessing your decision to implement ERP in the first place.

  • Experiencing people problems

Failing to get your staff involved with the transition and not establishing open paths of communication will result in an incredibly disjointed ERP implementation experience. Failure to consider the human impact of change leads to:

  • Technology that doesn’t suit your staff needs
  • Staff dissatisfaction
  • Staff unable or unwilling to utilise the technology
  • Discovering problems (or better ideas) after implementation.

The result of all these factors is a system that doesn’t automate the processes you desire and ultimately, a waste of time and money.

ERP Implementation

A poorly implemented ERP system can cause all kinds of headaches

Cover all your bases

Before you start your ERP implementation – or even source a vendor – carefully think about your expectations, goals, and unique business requirements or parameters. You can never be too prepared, especially when it comes to ERP systems.

Chances are you won’t be going through this process again for quite some time, so it’s worth putting in the effort to make sure you’re getting just what you need, and that the system you implement now will continue to benefit your business through future periods of change and growth.

No one knows your business like you do. Using employee experience and knowledge, past limitations and future goals, you have the ability to build a strong foundation for your new ERP system.

Keep in mind that before – and throughout – the implementation journey, you need to consider:

  • Business trajectory
  • Processes that can benefit from optimisation/automation.
  • Each role that will be affected (and how)
  • Your quantifiable business targets
ERP benefits

The benefits of an ERP system can be endless – if you plan correctly

Get out what you put in

The path to ERP is not walked alone – your ERP vendor will be your partner through the process. Your ERP vendor will be there to provide you with expertise you need to realise desired benefits and process automation. However, it’s important not to expect too much from them, as they can’t do all the work for you.

Your best chance at a positive ERP implementation and system transition is through building a specific pre-implementation plan.

This plan allows you and your entire business to be ready for the changes your ERP system will bring, and ensure you’re getting the best ROI. Some helpful elements to include in your plan are:

  1. Project objectives – Why are you implementing the system? What business goals are you wanting it to help you achieve?
    What process automation are you seeking?
  2. Project team – Designate a representative from every department that will be affected by the change and have them take ownership of a particular area of the implementation based on their expertise.
  3. Discovery – Make time for you ERP vendor to learn the ins and outs of your business processes and future goals, so they can build a system that reflects this.
  4. Change management – Form a strategy and team to handle the human impact of the change and drive communication throughout the business

It can be easy to get caught up in the end result – but to ensure you make it there, preparation is key.

For a step-by-step walk through of how to approach and build your pre-implementation plan, download the HARMONiQ ERP Automation eBook. Here you can find all the most commonly asked questions about ERP’s and read a more in-depth overview of the implementation process.

Is an ERP system the right move for you?

The opportunities and benefits of workflow automation

Whenever you’re considering a change in business process, it’s important to know why you’re making the change and what you’re getting out of it – especially when it’s going to affect the entire organisation.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are software solutions that automate complex business processes. They can give companies the power to streamline operations and increase performance efficiency that would otherwise be slowed down by clunky manual processes.

While they might sound like the one solution to all your operational problems, it’s important not to jump in without fully considering your company’s needs – transitioning to an ERP is a serious investment, both economically and time-wise.

So how do you determine if an ERP is the right choice for your company?

In this month’s blog I discuss what you have to think through before deciding if an ERP system is right for your business. Alternatively, you can download HARMONiQ’s ERP Automation eBook for a more in-depth analysis.

Are manual processes slowing you down?

There are many ways in which inefficient manual processes can negatively affect business operations, but here we will be focusing on three that are often deemed the most important by businesses considering a system change.

Cost

It’s true that ERP system implementation comes with a cost, but many businesses overlook the cost they’re already wearing due to inefficient processes.

While manual processes can work well for some smaller companies, a lot of the time they can be costly for larger businesses or those striving for growth. These costs can be large and plentiful, caused by:

  • Lost productivity through time-consuming manual work
  • Extra staff needed to complete processes
  • Repetition of tasks due to human error
  • Loss of stock due to poorly maintained manual records
  • Lost customers due to stock unavailability

These are direct costs, as well as indirect costs associated with loss of time and staff productivity. The latter can often be overlooked by companies – especially if ineffective manual processes have become the norm.

Inventory Management Process

Manual inventory management can be a messy and expensive process

Competition

While you don’t want to just implement a new system because everyone else is, it’s important to understand your competition and the services they are offering.

If your competitors have already implemented workflow automation and are making the most of the benefits, there’s a real chance they’re improved processes are drawing in customers – customers that could be coming to you. If your processes are slow, difficult and time-consuming, you aren’t able to go above and beyond for your customers to achieve sales growth.

In this day and age, information is much more accessible, allowing customers the privilege of shopping around and doing their research. If a competitor can offer faster, more accurate and a more cost-effective service than you, chances are they’ll score the business.

Growth

If, like many companies, you want to achieve growth and see your business prosper, it’s unlikely your current processes will support you in this goal.

It is next to impossible to experience and sustain growth with a paper-based system and manual processes. As your business starts to grow, how are you going to:

  • Review, keep track and store paperwork and business documents?
  • Store, distribute, track and manage an increased inventory?
  • Train staff and keep them up to date on all business operations?
  • Take care and keep track of every customer?
  • View all business data to gain visibility of overall business performance?
Inventory Management Paperwork

More business means more paperwork – are you prepared?

Know where you stand

You can now see how important it is to take a thorough look at your business practices – unnoticed costs and roadblocks can often be discovered hiding in plain sight.

Now you know what to look for, you will have a better ability to determine your need for workflow automation. You should be considering:

  • The cost of implementing an ERP vs. the cost of keeping things the same
  • The projection of your industry and the paths your competitors are taking to further progress their business and boost sales
  • Whether your current practices can support you through periods of growth without compromising on service delivery

When you really consider it, it’s likely you’ll find that manual processes won’t let you continue a consistent offering through growth periods.

This is a good sign that you should be looking for a way to update your system through workflow automation, which can provide the biggest reward for the smallest investment.

Look to the future with workflow automation

Implementing an ERP system is the most efficient way to achieve workflow automation across your business. ERP’s are fully integratable, and can streamline processes throughout your entire operation, including:

  • Warehousing and Distribution
  • CRM
  • Inventory Management
  • Sales
  • Reporting

Allowing an ERP to simplify and automate your business processes removes the chance of error, saves time and money, increases staff productivity and will allow for growth without interruption.

If you’re considering implementing an ERP system into your business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business? It will also give you a more extensive idea of the benefits and capabilities of ERP’s, so you can make a clear and objective decision regarding the suitability for your business.

Next month, I will be talking about the most efficient way to implement an ERP system.

If you would like to discuss this further, please email me at drew@micronet.com.au – I am always happy to have a chat.

 

Author Bio

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

Should you be selling online? Discover if e-commerce is right for your business

Have you been thinking about online selling?

If you are, the good news is that online sales reached $1.5 trillion dollars worldwide in 2016, and over the last 2 years has continued to grow.

That number demonstrates that customers are increasingly refusing to be limited by physical boundaries and the need to shop in store or fill out manual orders. So, there are some huge opportunities to expand into e-commerce in order to tap into that market.

But is it worth it for your business?

With so much potential revenue waiting for you, it’s a smart move to start weighing up your options and considering the viability of an e-commerce website.

Online Selling

Online shopping is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world.

Taking the first step into the world of e-commerce

For businesses who engage in traditional offline selling practices, deciding to sell your products online is a new terrain and may seem intimidating at first. There are many questions to ask yourself, including:

  • How will your customers benefit from an e-commerce site?
  • How much is an e-commerce site going to cost you?
  • How will you set up the site?
  • Who will set up the site?
  • When is the right time to launch?

But, before you even begin to go down that rabbit hole, you need to weigh up what you’d like to achieve with online selling. Then you can determine whether or not e-commerce actually has the capability to achieve these goals for you.

If you already know that e-commerce is a direction you want to take, our Selling Online e-book, is a complete guide to everything you need to know to get you started on your e-commerce journey. But, if you’re not sold on the idea yet, read on.

Your objectives vs. e-commerce capabilities

For any business, it’s safe to assume that you’re always looking for new ways to make your processes more efficient, grow your business and make more money.

That’s why e-commerce and the opportunities it creates (and the needs that it can fulfil) is so exciting.

Let’s take a look at the 3 most common needs businesses are wanting to fulfil with online selling.

1. Increasing your customer reach

The beauty in having a smaller customer base is how well you get to know your customers, so there are definitely some advantages to staying traditional. By building stronger relationships, your customers will often become advocates for your brand and spread positive word-of-mouth to their network.

While traditional bricks and mortar businesses are limited to the customer base that surrounds the vicinity of the store or warehouse, one-on-one customer engagement is still an extremely important part of selling. Being able to speak directly to your customers about their needs, issues and the value your products offer will provide them valuable guidance.

For these reasons, sticking with traditional practices is a totally viable business option. But, when it comes to e-commerce, you can gain access to an entirely new customer base — and boost your sales volume as a result.

With e-commerce, it’s possible to reach thousands of new customers (potentially from anywhere in the world), at any time of the day or night. Traditional business hours no longer matter, as customers can complete their orders 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

And even better than that?

You, as the merchant, wouldn’t need to dedicate any extra resources to support it.

2. Increased workflow and supply-chain efficiency

While front-facing operations are a huge part of selling online, there is a whole other side of online selling that involves processing customer orders and getting them out quickly and efficiently.

When set-up correctly, e-commerce sites are a cost-effective way to streamline your workflow processes by eliminating manual, labour-intensive processes and replacing them with automation.

e-commerce platforms can help you to:

  • Streamline order processes
    Manage all incoming orders from a centralised location, leading to larger volumes of orders that can be filled daily.
  • Increase order accuracy
    Maintain order accuracy, even during busy times of the year like major sales and Christmas.
  • Complete inventory visibility
    Having accurate, real-time views of your product inventory will enable you to maintain accurate orders.

However, if you currently operate warehousing facilities but you aren’t currently selling online, these systems are still able to be utilised with mobile warehousing solutions.

You don’t necessarily need an e-commerce site to automate warehouse processes, but seamlessly integrating the two will make the buying process a lot easier for you, and your customers

e-commerce and distribution integration

Seemlessly integrate e-commerce and distribution operations.

3. Achievement of financial goals

If you’re after quick, short-term financial gain, e-commerce may not be the right move for your business. Online selling is much more of a long-term investment that will cost you at first but will certainly earn back its value very quickly.

You need to be aware that there will be initial set-up costs to get your site up and running. But, before you even get to that stage, there will be lots of time (and money) spent on strategy and planning to get the right solution for your business and — more importantly — your customers.

In saying that, in the long-run, e-commerce is an extremely successful and sustainable business model. The operational costs are far lower than traditional bricks-and-mortar, and marketing automation functions will lower the total number of employees required to run your business. This will result in outstanding long-term ROI, and the initial set-up costs will quickly be forgotten.

Selling Online

Online selling isn’t a quick fix, it’s a long-term financial investment.

There’s no question that more and more businesses are turning to digital, driven by customer demand. But that doesn’t mean it is the right move for your business to move online — yet.

In order to be successful, you will need thorough planning, and be supported by well-chosen technology that suits the needs and wants of your business and your customers. Check out the Selling Online eBook for more information about assessing if your business is ready for online selling.

Are you thinking about online selling?

HARMONiQ has helped a wide range of retail, warehousing and distribution business make a successful and seamless switch to a fully integrated e-commerce solution which maximised their sales and ROI.

We’re using that expertise to keep you informed about your selling online options. That’s why next month, I’ll talk more about ensuring your transition to selling online is a success. Meanwhile, why not learn more: download HARMONiQ’s “Complete Guide to Online Selling” e-book.

Here you’ll find a complete overview of all the planning and resources you need to invest in, so you can effectively facilitate the launch of a successful e-commerce platform.

And if you’d like to see first-hand how our system can help you seamlessly transition to online selling, click here to request a demo and I’ll be in touch shortly.

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

Seeking a competitive advantage? Try automation and cost controls.

In my last blog, I spoke about the massive issues caused by manual systems, and how adopting process automation can help you control costs and eliminate these inefficiencies.

But in competitive industries such as wholesale, distribution, or retail, you need to do much more than just eliminate inefficiencies. Every dollar counts, so you need to be looking for ways to both cut costs where necessary and invest in long-term solutions that will be more cost-effective.

Every business is striving to stay competitive with innovation, technology and improved processes. That means you need to be too. Because continuing to rely on how things have always been done can be the fastest way to get left behind.

When I previously spoke about process automation, I talked about how it can help you achieve:

  • Increased staff productivity
  • Streamlined reporting
  • Better management of suppliers
  • Improved customer satisfaction.

Which ultimately all results in tighter costs and margin controls — and therefore, more revenue.

You might think that the intricacies of increasing cost controls can be daunting and complex, but it’s been laid out in an easily understandable way in HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs eBook

Process Automation

Unsure where to cut costs, and where to invest? Find out in the eBook

The eBook will go into more detail about the various processes and changes you can implement in order to control costs, but today I’m bringing you the top 3 methods of leveraging process automation. These will increase your capability to control costs and give a huge leg-up on your ability to be competitive.

Every dollar counts: 3 ways process automation can control costs and boost your competitiveness

  1. Eliminate double-handling

Technology can make or break your business. While the right kind of tech can boost efficiency and productivity, the wrong kind could be your downfall.

This is especially the case if you’ve got multiple systems working in isolation. This creates a huge number of issues, one of the most significant being an extreme amount of double-handling. This includes:

  • Importing and exporting data between different systems
  • Entering the same data multiple times
  • Re-entering data if there’s errors and inconsistencies

Obviously, this level of inefficiency is going to rapidly increase costs, not help control them.

Double-handling is a constant adversary for retail, warehousing and distribution businesses, and process automation is one of the only ways to guarantee victory over it.

Businesses who use software that integrates all aspects of their operations (accounting, inventory management, customer service, eMarketing, etc.) can easily identify and eliminate instances in which staff duplicate their efforts, make errors, or repeat data entry.

  1. Streamline your reporting

Monitoring your KPIs through robust reporting is a great way to ensure your business stays on the right track and is effectively controlling costs.

Many business executives think this means having to dedicate significant resources towards data compilation and analytics. But is that really the case?

Of course not!

Automated reporting is an opportunity being seized by businesses who want to gain a competitive advantage.

By making full use of their reporting tools, leading businesses generate reports to ensure that:

  • Financials are on track
  • Variances are investigated immediately
  • Sales staff are held accountable for their targets
  • Generating pipeline analytics is fast and easy

So not only does process automation allow you to track how you’ve done in the past, it can also help you plan intelligently for the future.

  1. Engage your customers

Businesses frequently rely solely on staff to action follow-up tasks and respond to customer enquiries. This almost inevitably results in some tasks falling through the cracks, which means missed opportunities and a compromised customer service record.

That’s hardly ideal if you’re trying to remain competitive — especially if you’re relying on referrals or return business to boost your bottom line.

This is where I’ve seen businesses use their CRMs (Customer Relationship Management systems) to intelligently achieve significant advantage in customer satisfaction. Some examples of what they do:

  • Automatic follow-ups to quotes
  • Targeted emails to touch base with existing customers every few months
  • Personalised follow-up emails to customers who have deviated from their usual buying habits.

By using a CRM to automate these tasks, you could be saving time and effort for your staff, while also continuing to maintain meaningful relationships with your customers and drive increased sales and cost controls.

Seize the automation opportunity

The endless benefits of process automation don’t just stop there. If you’re trying to stay competitive and you want to know more about methods for controlling costs, then check out HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margins and Costs eBook.

Process automation software

Boost your efficiency and competitiveness with process automation and integrated operations

As strong advocates for automation, we’ve helped businesses leverage technology to increase their efficiency and profitability with our HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software.

It’s a unique platform that gives you:

  • Full integration by incorporating all operations into one platform — totally streamlining your business.
  • The ability to track key performance metrics, as well as pipeline analytics, allowing you to forecast your outcomes and make more informed decisions.
  • Automation of simple selling and sales support tasks, such as sending follow up emails for quotes, or setting reminders for follow up calls.

These are just a few of the ways HARMONiQ can help you optimise your business processes and gain that edge you need. As a truly customisable and scalable software, you can leverage HARMONiQ to drive significant efficiencies, while also ensuring that the software will continue to grow alongside your business.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging process automation and other great technology to achieve significant efficiency improvements in your business, please call me on 02 9542 2000.

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

 

Lost inventory getting you down? Fight inventory shrinkage with process automation.

It’s estimated that Australian wholesalers and retailers lose an average of 1.24% of total turnover per year through various forms of inventory shrinkage.

That adds up to a huge amount of money — last year alone, it was estimated that a staggering $4.5 billion was lost due to inventory shrinkage in Australia’s retail, warehousing and distribution sector.

Most businesses attribute a large portion of these losses to theft and breakage. While these factors do play a significant part in lost capital, there’s no denying the huge losses that are caused by inefficiencies and errors.

Inventory Shrinkage

Inventory shrinkage is a massive cost for Australian businesses

By inefficiencies, I mean:

  • Unchecked stock variances, or the excessive monitoring of variances
  • Invoicing errors
  • Administrative mistakes
  • Double-handling of inventory and tasks

And the worst part?

Often these expensive drains on productivity are either passed onto our customers, or simply taken as a hit to the company’s bottom line.

So, how can businesses, like yours, minimise their costs when it comes to dealing with variances and shrinkage?

The best way is the adoption of process automation.

See how process automation can help you control costs: HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margins and Costs eBook

How manual processes are wasting your time

The following are just two of the many examples where the speed and productivity of a business is drastically affected by processes that have not yet been optimised.

Inefficient Exception Reporting

Exception reporting is the process of flagging any discrepancies between a company’s actual and expected performance. It is an essential part of controlling costs and tightening margins, but completing it manually causes all sorts of problems.

There are so many points in the reporting process that are prime opportunities for errors and inefficiencies:

  • Scrutiny of inbound stock data
  • Analysis of outbound stock data
  • Data entry across a number of different points
  • Reconciling data across different systems.

Not only is this hugely inefficient, but an error in any one of these steps means massive inaccuracies across all reporting.

Needless to say, the whole process is prone to administrative and paperwork errors that can contribute in driving your business’s inventory shrinkage.

Delayed Variance Investigations

A good example of a knock-on effect from inaccurate reporting is the way it can affect stock variance.

Adjustments and variances tend to pile-up. If you’re waiting weeks, or even months, before you sift through paperwork and complete investigations, then you’re in huge danger of chasing red herrings and failing to identify the real source of the issues.

By this time these situations will have become not only more difficult to identify and resolve, but more expensive as well.

For example, you might discover that you have been short-delivered stock far too late. Obviously, this is not ideal for a myriad of reasons, but it’s the lost capital that’s going to hurt the most.

That’s the advantage of process automation — real-time alerts of excessive variances and the easy identification of problem areas.

process automation

Administration issues contribute greatly to inventory shrinkage

How you can get a better grip on your stock — and your margins

Although it will likely always be a factor for any retailer or warehouse, inventory shrinkage can be massively reduced with greater automation.

See how process automation can help you gain visibility and increase efficiency: HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margins and Costs eBook

Automating inventory parameters

Once you have process automation integrated within your business, you can set parameters to avoid various triggers of inventory shrinkage. With these parameters you can set alerts for whenever you go above or below acceptable stock levels.

This way you can make sure that you never promise a customer a product that you don’t have, or over order stock that will pass a use-by date before it is sold.

Automated stock adjustments

Process automation can also let you know when stock adjustments have been completed. This means any issues that come up relating to invoicing or stock levels can be immediately dealt with.

With this process in place you will know in real-time if you need to chase up that supplier who forgot to deliver that one extra pallet before it becomes an issue for your customers.

The best part? Implementing process automation doesn’t have to be difficult

HARMONiQ has already helped many wholesalers, retailers and distributers reduce their inventory shrinkage, and ultimately create a much healthier turnover.

HARMONiQ can provide you with

  • Real time alerts
  • Accurate adjustments
  • Easy reporting
  • Stock investigations

To learn more about the capabilities of our system, check out our eBook.

In my next blog I’ll be talking about how process automation and cost controls can contribute to a competitive advantage.

In the meantime, book an online demo to see how process automation can benefit your business.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology.