Most businesses leaders are currently living with a lot of uncertainty. There’s very little clarity around the long term (or even short term) impact that the events of 2020 will have on the warehouse and distribution industry in general, and their business specifically.
It doesn’t seem to matter if you’ve taken a hit, or have mostly continued on as normal. Nearly everyone has their mind on the same thing – how can I build better financial security in my business?
While there are many steps you can (and will) take over the next few months and years to get back on the growth track, one of the easiest ways to boost the financial security of your business right now is by using your data.
Data is a tool that you already have on hand. It can be used to help stop the unnecessary loss of profits, as well as help unlock hidden profit opportunities. When utilised well, data doesn’t just tell you what is – it tells you what you should do.
Don’t look for complex solutions when a simple one will do
In the years I’ve spent working with warehouse and distribution businesses, I’ve seen all sorts of complex strategies and new ideas brought in to try and stimulate profit growth.
But in reality, it doesn’t take complex or intricate plans to boost profits; there are simple, small process changes that can have an even greater effect (for a lot less effort).
Some businesses are hesitant to look at or optimise their current processes, others simply think they don’t have the time. But failing to look at improving internal factors is often costing more money than external factors. For example, billions of dollars of revenue are lost by inventory shrinkage every year in the warehousing, retail and distribution industries. Furthermore, millions of dollars in potential profit are lost from failing to follow up quotes.
The answer? Implementing smart data usage into your existing processes.
Three powerful & profitable uses for your data
There are lots of ways you can use data in your business to improve efficiency, forecasting and profit margins. Here are just three ways that are particularly relevant to the current environment.
Identify Market Trends
If you know what customers want to buy, how much of it and when, you’ll be in a better position to provide them with what they need – and make more sales. Customer buying data (and, if you have eCommerce going, search data) can give you an inside look at market trends and live information about demand.
Knowing exactly what customers want, what they’re buying and what they aren’t as it’s happening puts you in better stead to supply in-demand items without delay. This sort of data can prove priceless; helping you keep customers, win new ones, cross-sell, upsell, or even enter new markets entirely.
Empower Your Sales Team
Sales is a hard job, and it can be made even harder when you don’t have the tools you need to succeed. Data empowers sales teams in multiple ways – improving profit opportunities in the process. The most notable:
- Providing them with personalised customer information and habits to allow them to start meaningful sales conversations that are highly relevant to the customer
- Notifying them of older customers who have not purchased for a while that need to be reengaged,
- Recognising when quotes need to be followed up so you can make the most of every prospect.
Improve Inventory Management
Inventory is likely one of the biggest costs for your business, and therefore presents one of the best opportunities to reclaim lost profits. Not only does stock tie up a lot of cash, but the processes around managing it can take a lot of hours and people-power – and extra expense. By utilising your stock data, you can improve efficiency across the entire ordering and managing process. Keep an eye on what’s moving and what’s not to minimise deadstock and keep in-demand items in stock, set up automatic re-orders for popular stock lines, and keep your staff moving with the information they need to do their jobs more quickly and more accurately.
Make your data work for you with ERP
The power to make more money already exists within your business – you just need to harness it. By now, most businesses know the difference data can make, but not all of them have got to the point where they’re utilising it effectively.
All businesses have data, but it’s the way you use it that makes a difference. To be able to make your data profitable, it needs to be:
- Accessible –data can be accessed easily and shared across every team member if needed, in an easily interpretable and reportable mode
- In real-time –access to live data that tells you what’s happening in your business right now, allowing for more relevant and effective decision making
- Powerful –ability to efficiently generate reports that show you what you need to know in a consumable way, allowing you to make quick data-driven decisions.
- Accurate– Make sure your data is up to date and a single source of the truth for anyone, and track any changes or edits that have been made.
When it comes to collecting, processing and accessing meaningful business data, nothing is more effective than an ERP system. An ERP system can not only allow you access to data, but makes it meaningful – allowing you to get new visibility and control into your business, your inventory and your customers.
ERP software integrates your systems and automates your processes – and records everything along the way, for simple and easy access to business insights. By using these insights, you can make profitable decisions and changes in stock, management, sales and more.
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? Or, click here to contact HARMONiQ for any general enquiries.
Robert Butler 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 getting the most out of your business data or improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.