Business growth

Taken a hit? Set your business up to recover – and grow bigger

Last month, I discussed how warehouse and distribution businesses can prepare for the ‘new normal’. A large part of this was about growing customer bases and expanding into new markets.

But if we look further ahead, the goal for many isn’t just getting back to ‘normal’ – it’s continued growth.

This major disruption has (and will) affect many businesses growth plans and trajectories. The momentum they had, or the strategies that had been put in place, now won’t be as effective. Or, they’ll take much longer to come to fruition.

Exploring new customer opportunities is an important step to getting back to where you were at the beginning of the year. But growth will require more than just new business. The road to growth starts with internal changes, ensuring your business processes and operations are set up to support an expanding business.

Businesses are facing big operational changes

This disruption is clearly not over (as our friends in Melbourne are discovering). And the impact on this industry could set to continue, or worsen, over the next 12-18 months.

It’s one thing to be able to roll with the punches for a couple of months or through one lockdown period. But this is no way to approach a long-term change to operating and selling.

I previously discussed that the way businesses sell has likely changed, and there will be a need to adapt. But on top of this, there will also be an internal change to how operations run, and how the customer promise is met. During the next little while, a lot of businesses will experience:

Less staff

Some businesses are facing returning to ‘normal’ or increased operations with fewer staff to carry out jobs. This means not all jobs can be done, and there will be a strong need to prioritise some tasks over others

Changes in stock needs

Fluctuating sales and customer numbers can create inventory management headaches. Continuous changes in ordering trends and customer numbers makes ensuring stock availability without overstocking a fine balancing act.

Interrupted trends

Growth and sales patterns have been thrown off, making it hard to identify trends and forecast business performance. As we’ve seen, things can change dramatically in as little as 24 hours, leaving everyone feeling uncertain. Even those who haven’t felt the crunch are unsure about what the next year or two means for them.

Growth takes more than increasing customers

Up until now, the main objective has been survival. But as we realise this isn’t going away, and the way business operates is likely changed for good, simply keeping a head above eliminates the capacity for bigger and better things.

Growth stems from not just managing what you have, but having the capacity to take on more without it affecting your customer promise.

Attracting more customers and expanding into more markets will definitely help with business growth. But to be successful in the long run, you need the internal processes in place to support an increase in business.

Simply put, you have to be able to do more with less. And to successfully achieve this, you’ll need:

  • Operational efficiency – Automation helps frees up staff time so they can focus on more important tasks, and allows you to function at a higher capacity with a smaller workforce. This means that as your customer base and order demand grow, your team can still deliver.
  • Sales support – Access to market and customer insights not only helps with inventory management, it helps the sales team follow up more leads, serve customers better and improve opportunities to up and cross sell.
  • Data insights – Forecasting is always key to running a business, but becomes even more vital when things are changing rapidly. You need an idea of what’s coming and where you sit to be able to effectively plan your way forward.

Your internal processes will make the difference between surviving and thriving

In terms of how businesses operate more effectively and stay ahead of the competition, change has been coming for a long time. The recent circumstances have just sped the process up.

The next step is not only setting ourselves up for surviving the disruption, but thriving in the new normal. The further you look, the faster you go. Look beyond the next step – growth might not happen straight away, but it needs to be in the plan.

Look at your processes, look at your systems and software and reassess their ability to help you in this new normal.

  • How has your business changed, and what capabilities do you now need to meet goals?
  • Can your existing systems support efficiency and productivity and deliver ROI?
  • Are you in a place to invest in improvements?

Your software and systems play a big role in supporting growth and, if you’re able, it could be time to change things up. If you’re committed to sustaining long-term growth, overhauling your processes with an ERP system could be the best answer for you.

An ERP sets you up now for future growth but also provides flexibility to work with whatever further changes and disruptions come our way. Giving you the power of not only automation, but real-time insights you need to:

  • Supply for the market
  • Prevent inventory shrinkage
  • Forecast revenue
  • Support your customers

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?  If you’d like to discuss any of the steps I’ve mentioned further, or get some guidance around market expansion, reach out to me via our website or email me directly at drew@micronet.com.au.

 

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 discuss preparing your business for growth or improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.

The benefit of long-term thinking: How to make downtime valuable

How do you successfully plan in a time when no one knows what’s coming next, or what could change tomorrow? It’s a question many businesses are facing thanks to COVID-19.

In warehouse and distribution, some of us are in a more fortunate position than many other businesses. I am yet to hear (so far) of businesses in our industry that have been affected to the point of no return during this crisis.  We’re lucky that when the government is thinking about essential services, they’re considering supply chains too.

But if we’re realistic, no one will get out of this unscathed. It’s likely things will change for many businesses and at the very least you will face downtime or changes in workload. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

It’s important to resist the urge to think of reacting now, and rather use this time to your advantage and think long term. There are simple things you can do during this time to make the most of what you have, and support your business and those in it until we regain some normalcy.

Looking over the horizon

We’ve never experienced anything quite like COVID-19 before, so there’s no strategy or best practice to fall back on. It’s situations like this which are dangerous and can lead to short-term thinking. Fight or flight has kicked in and it’s tempting to go the later. But it’s not a good idea.

We’ve seen it happen a few times – sales go south and the panic sets in. Businesses get rid of staff, cut costs wherever they can, shut up shop straight away. I get it, it’s in a bid to stay alive. Or so they think.

But by doing this, managers and directors may not be thinking through all the options. They’re not considering that they have a role as a business leader to do something that’s not just about them. They have staff, customers and stakeholders to think about, too.

When this is happening day by day, people can feel like they have to make day by day decisions. But this isn’t going to work in the long run. COVID-19 is going to affect everything we do, but it’s going to pass. And we need to be ready when it does.

Your staff are valuable – use them wisely

Thankfully, the biggest hurdle many businesses have been facing has been somewhat mitigated by the government’s Job Keeper scheme. You can now possibly afford to keep paying most employees – that’s great.

But, if the work has slowed, changed or is coming in inconsistently, how can you use these paid employees?  This different period of business gives you an opportunity to understand what’s happening in the business and improve our processes moving forward.

If the work isn’t there but the employees are, it becomes about finding different, valuable things for them to be able to do. If staff capacity has changed, so has your ability to try different things. Have a think about:

  • Who is on the books?
  • What’s their availability?
  • What’s their ability?
  • How can you get them thinking about the future instead of thinking about what’s happening right now?

There are plenty of things businesses can do to improve their processes in the long run.  I’m 100% sure every business out there would have tasks and projects that they’ve been meaning to do, but have not had the capacity to complete. Now is the time to do it.

Futureproofing and process optimisation are an excellent use of your downtime. Need some tips on where to get started? We’ve created a checklist of ideas:

HARMONiQ Business Downtime Checklist

Download HARMONiQ Business Downtime Checklist

Change your thinking, change the outcome

In times of uncertainty and panic, putting your guard up can certainly feel like the best way to protect yourself. But right now, a better way to protect your business is asking “what can I do to improve my circumstances and that of all the stakeholders in my business?”

In the short term, this approach will help you:

  • See what’s good in the business, and what might need to change
  • Keep staff busy
  • Keep the business running
  • Achieve clarity around your needs and your capabilities

And in the long-term, it means keeping your staff and your customers, and coming out of this in a better position to run your business,

Of course, every business will need to deal with the effects differently. But it’s the thought process that counts. Long-term thinking will improve short-term decision making. Just as short-term thinking will create mayhem in long-term outcomes.

Keep people busy, keep business running, and put yourself in an improved situation to continue the best you can once things return to normal.

I’m sure you have a project you can go and execute. Or take one from the checklist. If you need help with where you should start or how to execute properly, efficiently and cost-effectively right now, reach out to me.

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 discuss how to best spend your downtime improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.

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.

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.

3 essential considerations before you implement new margin and cost controls

In a globalised market that is fiercely competitive, your business needs to outperform its competitors wherever and whenever it can.

One huge opportunity for competitive advantage is margin and cost optimisation.

Last month, we established the importance of introducing tighter margin and cost controls. (And the risks of not doing it.)

The next step: how to implement those controls.

As much as you might want to jump straight into a new approach — knee-jerk, short-lived changes can put your staff off side, and do more harm than good.

How do you ensure your new approach lasts?

Taking an integrated, project-based approach is the best way. But it’s not without its own challenges.

HARMONiQ has helped a wide range of retail, warehousing and distribution businesses put in place the metrics and controls they need to stay more competitive.

We even created a whole eBook about it. Download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs eBook here.

In this month’s blog, I’m discussing what you have to think through before you get down to implementing tighter controls…

3 essential considerations

1.How effective is your change management?

“Creating sustainable cost transformation is not a change in process – it is a change in thinking that requires complete organisational commitment and involvement.” – Tania Seary, The Faculty

For change to occur – a complete staff buy-in is needed

Your management’s ability to prepare and support your team in making fundamental changes will be a defining factor in your success

You will need to establish a culture of cost and margin optimisation.

This new culture must be embraced by all. It won’t happen if senior management is resistant and staff is not involved.

How do you ensure organisational commitment and involvement?

First, you need to make sure it’s not seen as a cost cutting exercise.

The initiative needs to be embraced as a positive, value-adding endeavour –  to identify and leverage every point where you add (or don’t add) value for your customer.

Second, senior management must commit up front to the mission – its importance – and the process to ensure staff buy-in all the way down the line.

2. Have you decided on the right metrics and controls?

To make the right decisions you need to be measuring the right metrics

With today’s modern technologies, businesses can measure almost anything — it’s choosing what to filter out that’s the real challenge.

You need to find the true primary and secondary drivers of your business’ value chain. These are the activities that provide significant value to the end-user – and consequently, competitive advantage to the business.

For example: Is your logistical ability to deliver product more quickly than competitors delivering value to your customers? Or is this unimportant to the customer, and a cheaper alternative could win the day?

A deep dive into each of your organisational activities will highlight the true value drivers. This will ultimately allow you to

  • Reduce the cost of invaluable activities
  • Spend to add value where it truly matters for your customers
  • And make your business more competitive as a result.

3. How will you embed the new controls into your business

Reporting on your new metrics must become a core part of your organisation

When you’ve decided your metrics, you’ll need to set up your business systems to track, measure, and report on them.

But that’s not just a one-time project.

It’s a continuous process that needs to be imbedded into everyday operations – kept top of mind – and used long-term as an ongoing management tool.

It’s imperative that you ensure the project isn’t forgotten just because it is a continuous project.

At the same time, your metrics need to remain flexible, adaptable to market changes and open to continuous improvement

What happens when you get it right

Once you’ve done the initial hard work, your business will benefit long term from your ability to:

  • Make informed business decisions
  • Cut costs
  • Implement consistent controls, while allowing staff room to negotiate on prices
  • Access one source of truth for all aspects of your business
  • Get accurate real time reporting
  • Encourage team collaboration
  • Get better at purchasing, selling, and negotiating

But most importantly… cost and margin control ultimately means you’ll be more profitable and competitive.

Why not learn more! Download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs e-book.

Next month, I’ll bring you more insights on how to keep up with rapid changes in the retail, warehousing and distribution industries.

And if you’d like to see how our system can help you gain control and streamline your processes, 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.

Tightening cost and margin controls to weather uncertain times

A decade of blistering change — technology advances, economic uncertainties and rising customer expectations — has shifted the ground seismically for retail, warehousing and distribution businesses.

And there’s only more uncertainty ahead. Probably the greatest threat (or opportunity, depending on where you sit) is the growing inroads made by e-commerce.

The arrival of Amazon, in particular, has everyone on edge. According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, 52% of Australian businesses see Amazon as a threat. Yet only 25% have a plan to compete with the online shopping giant.

With uncontrollable threats to business-as-usual crashing in from all sides, the need to better control what you can control in your business is more vital than ever.

And one area where too many businesses control less than they could? Managing margin and costs.

3 common cost and margin control failings

We’ve worked with a wide range of businesses throughout Australia and New Zealand to pinpoint where they’re vulnerable, and where and how controls need to be tightened.

In fact, we’ve created a whole e-book about it: download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs here.

Meanwhile, these are three areas in particular where I see repeated underperformance — and serious risk to the business as a result.

1. Inefficiencies lurking in systems and processes

It is paramount your business technology system stays up to date in order to spot inefficiencies early on.

Technology advances keep rolling in and can make a live-or-die difference to your operations — and ultimately, your bottom line.

Those whose systems and processes fall behind can lose ground competitively, and see margins progressively eroded by cascading inefficiencies like:

  • Excess downtime;
  • Haphazard and un-optimised e-commerce sites;
  • Errors in distribution, stocktake, or inventory; and,
  • Rising customer complaints and defections.

What’s needed today: a thorough and continuous process of technology re-assessment.

Businesses that want to be nimble enough to survive the unexpected need regular forensic analysis of their operations to:

  • Map out and thoroughly understand businesses processes;
  • Break down and quantify cost components;
  • Spot inefficiencies early;
  • Identify risks and vulnerabilities; and,
  • Uncover potential improvements and their financial impact.

2. Not knowing where to invest and where to cut costs

To tighten your businesses cost and margin controls effectively, you need a system that gives you visibility of all your financial decisions.

Companies that can’t precisely understand, monitor and manage costs and margins can too easily make the wrong financial decisions — and undermine their ability to stay competitive:

  • Opting for short-term financial gains, vs investing in long-term competitiveness and growth;
  • Under-investing in ‘good costs’ — the elements that add value for customers and competitiveness for the business; and,
  • Over-spending on ‘bad costs’ — the ones that don’t add intrinsic value to your business

What’s needed today: the right metrics and controls to provide a solid business case for your spending decisions.

This requires:

  • Identification of the true drivers of cost and margin performance in your business;
  • A business system that automates their tracking, measurement and reporting; and,
  • A culture of margin and cost optimisation across the entire organisation

3. Software and systems that just aren’t up to the task

Your business needs to be supported by one cohesive system.

Having production line, inventory, pricing and other systems spread across multiple platforms might once have been manageable.

And for smaller businesses certain simple, cheap, easily accessible solutions seemed to make sense, even if they were cumbersome, error-prone and less than optimal.

That’s just not good enough anymore, for businesses of any size.

A lack of reliable, integrated systems and data isn’t just a headache. It can cost a fortune, hold your business back and even threaten its viability:

  • Monitoring production costs and margin controls becomes imprecise, difficult and time-consuming;
  • The flexibility you and your staff need to meet the market is hampered;
  • Problems and inefficiencies get overlooked; and,
  • Opportunities for growth or improvement are missed.

What’s needed today: up-to-date, integrated software that provides full margin and cost visibility and control

Very simply – your software and systems need to let you:

  • Monitor and interpret data across the entire operation;
  • Spot problems in real time;
  • Operate flexibly, but within strategically-defined constraints; and,
  • Act swiftly on factors affecting your bottom line

Any of these issues sound familiar?

HARMONiQ has helped a wide range of retail, warehousing and distribution business put in place the metrics and controls they need to make an immediate impact on their bottom line.

Next month, I’ll talk more about ways to implement tighter margin and cost controls.

Meanwhile, why not learn more: download HARMONiQ’s Controlling Margin and Costs e-book.

And if you’d like to see how our system can help you gain control and weather the pressures ahead, 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.

How to gain efficiency with an automated warehouse system

Many businesses find that as they grow, their warehousing becomes inefficient and drags behind them. Very few businesses have warehouses optimised for productivity, and continuing to rely on labour-intensive processes results in poor resource utilisation and ineffective inventory management.

The consequences of inefficient warehousing are numerous and affect all aspects of an organisation, especially revenue generation. It also affects customer satisfaction, particularly when their products are delayed or lost due to disorganisation.

Automated mobile warehousing is becoming an increasingly attractive option as businesses seek a dramatic improvement in their productivity and stocktake process, as well as seeking to have control over their inventory.

Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous companies across Australia and New Zealand to help them successfully implement smarter warehousing. I’ve seen the most common challenges small to medium businesses face, and have provided access to the tools they need to overcome them.

In this month’s blog, I’ve outlined the three ways that an automated warehouse system can improve previously labour-intensive tasks, and the significant increase in productivity that happens as a result.

 

3 ways that automated warehousing can simplify previously labour-intensive tasks

1. Increase pick efficiency

automated warehouse system

Increased pick efficiency allows you to better deliver your products to your customers

Knowing where products are located in your warehouse is a basic necessity—you need this knowledge for picking stock, which is the first step in delivering your product to a customer. But many organisations, due to incorrectly labelled goods or other reasons, have inaccurate picking methods. Errors in stock management lead to a negative cycle of pick inefficiency in which goods are continuously handled incorrectly and rushed out, leading to a knock-on effect into purchasing and re-stocking. This ultimately results in massive holes in the system that require extra work from warehouse employees to try and mitigate.

In an ideal warehouse, stock is correctly labelled and managed, leading to optimised pick time and making the process much easier. Download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook to learn how an automated warehouse system can increase pick efficiency and save you time.

2.Accurate stocktakes 

automated warehouse system

Changing up your stocktake process saves time and improves accuracy in stock management

Most companies see stocktakes as something to be scheduled annually. This often involves shutting down the warehouse for the day, and beginning a slow, labour-intensive process that ultimately results in inaccurate stock levels.

Instead, stocktakes need to be optimised for efficiency and accuracy. We’ve found that the best way to do this is to avoid annual stocktakes, and instead utilise the downtime that happens between couriers. An automated warehouse system allows you to use spare moments to run a cyclic continuous stocktake, which increases efficiency and accuracy.

To learn how smarter warehousing can optimise the stocktake process and make it less labour-intensive, download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook.

3.Better warehouse layout 

automated warehouse system

Improving your warehouse layout ensures processes and tasks are actioned faster.

Warehouses usually have one layout plan developed right at the beginning of the moving-in process, and then stock stays in that arrangement forever. This means that as products change, or you get more of them based on demand, the warehouse layout stays the same and isn’t optimised for efficiency.

Ideally, the warehouse layout would be improved in much the same way as stocktakes would—using moments of downtime to re-shelve products. A better warehouse layout would lead to a better pick-rate and replenishment system. By continually adapting the warehouse layout to respond to the demands of picking, the process would drive efficiency and be less labour-intensive, leading to on-time deliveries and even more time to do other tasks.

Download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook to learn how smarter warehousing can dramatically improve efficiency in your organisation.

 

How can I start leveraging automated warehousing in my business?

As well as eliminating or simplifying labour intensive tasks, organisations driven by an automated warehouse system have the edge over their competitors because they are able to:

  • Save time and money;
  • Improve stock accuracy;
  • Reduce overstocking and shrinkage;
  • Track items from ‘goods in’ to ‘goods out’;
  • Automatically update stock records in real time;
  • Minimise picking times and picking errors;
  • Assign barcodes for loose or un-barcoded items; and
  • Carry out rolling stock takes.

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.

If you would like to see the impact HARMONiQ’s Mobile Warehousing can have on your business, then 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 organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.

3 reasons why every business should be thinking about inventory control

There’s no doubt that gaining control of your stock and learning how to manage it is one of the most challenging things you could do for your business. The best way to think about stock is to treat it like cash – if you wouldn’t leave $100 notes lying around your warehouse, why would you leave your stock unchecked and waiting to go missing? Learning how to efficiently manage stock is critical.

More and more businesses are thinking about how to optimise their stock management strategy – using tools and equipment to control their inventory in order to balance customer needs while minimising the cost of carrying excess items.

Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous companies across Australia and New Zealand to help them successfully gain control of stock inventory in their businesses. I’ve seen the most common challenges small to medium businesses face, and have provided access to the tools they need to overcome them.

In this month’s blog, I’ve outlined the three reasons small to medium businesses should have control of their inventory, and the ways taking control can benefit an organisation.

3 reasons effective inventory control can optimise your operational effectiveness

 

1. Mitigate risks early on

Better systems for inventory control in warehouses eliminates inaccuracies in your stock levels.

Traditionally, the recording of stock is done through a time-consuming, labour-intensive yearly stocktake — a highly inefficient process that inevitably leads to inaccuracies and loss in your stock levels.

Having doubts about the accuracy of your stock-on-hand reports costs you down the line. Ultimately these mistakes get recorded as shrinkage, resulting in lost revenue and, sometimes, the perception of theft in your warehouse.

By implementing a new system that allows you to efficiently record and track all of your inventory, you eliminate inaccurate stock records and minimise time spent on stocktake. Download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook to learn how adopting inventory control through an integrated ERP system will mitigate risks in your warehouses.

2. Eliminate excess or back-orders

The inaccuracies of pen and paper processes are in the past once you adopt effective tools for stock management.

What tools are you using to optimise your ordering process?

Many warehouses rely on guesswork to order stock, and as a result stock levels don’t match what is required to meet demand. This means you either don’t order enough of what your customers require —resulting in lost sales, dissatisfied customers and reputation impacts — or you have excess inventory and dead stock, meaning money wasted and an impact on your profitability.

Most simply lack the tools to optimise their ordering, and instead rely on simple programs like Excel or pen and paper processes even when their business has far outgrown them.

A system that is fit-for-purpose and allows you to gain control over the ordering process would be a powerful tool, and our studies show that an integrated inventory system can result in a 7.5% decrease in the frequency of out-of-stock inventory. Find out more about how to gain control of your stock ordering in the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook.

3. Visibility over your entire stock

Gain insights into your business when you gain visibility over all of your inventory.

If you have multiple warehouses and you’re still using basic systems for inventory management, it is virtually impossible to have visibility over all of your stock. A lack of visibility ultimately causes all of your other tasks to be time-consuming and inaccurate, such as transferring or sending out stock.

By eliminating basic processes, you can gain valuable insights into your business. Our studies show that, paired with an integrated inventory system like HARMONiQ, 95.4% of your outbound orders are delivered to customers complete and on time. You are also much more likely to have online visibility into in-transit shipment status.

Maintaining accurate and visible stock levels across the organisation enables all departments who rely on accurate stock detail to work more efficiently and make smarter decisions. To learn how to implement an inventory control solution that provides access to real time, accurate data and can also simplify work processes within your organisation, download your copy of the HARMONIQ Effective Stock Management eBook.

How can I start leveraging effective inventory control for my business?

Organisations driven by effective inventory control have the edge over their competitors because they can easily track, record, and order stock, eliminating inefficiencies and helping them to minimise excess and keep their customers happy.

Download the HARMONiQ: Effective Stock Management eBook today as your next step guide on 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 here 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 sales processes in your business, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.