As the bridge that connects manufacturers with their end customers, logistics is the backbone of every successful wholesale operation – and digital transformation is increasingly becoming the key to that success.
Here’s a look at how tapping into the latest digital technologies can help you achieve more efficient services, and a better customer experience.
The impact of e-commerce
The single biggest thing to affect logistics is the internet. No longer can retailers get away with simply receiving stock at a warehouse and distributing it to brick-and-mortar stores. The convenience of online shopping means people expect things like next-day delivery, sourcing of hard-to-find items, and stock pulled from other stores. If they don’t get it, they’ll shop elsewhere.
The customer’s needs come first—and that’s why choosing the right logistics technology is vital.
The new wave of logistics tools
Another big benefit of the internet age is that it has enabled unprecedented information sharing—and synchronisation—between wholesalers, partners, staff and retailers. In turn, this has made possible huge increases in supply chain speed, productivity and efficiency. The driving force is a new generation of web-based, enterprise level logistics applications, which enable:
- Better supply chain visibility: Wholesalers must often deal with a lack of timely information from other parts of the supply chain. Digital logistics can provide end-to-end visibility of inventory, orders and shipments—which helps to reduce inventories while improving customer satisfaction.
- Centralised command and control: Enterprise technologies such as online fulfillment, automated fleet management, and real-time warehouse management systems (WMS) allow wholesalers to improve the efficiency of a huge range of logistics events, from freight movements to staff coordination.
- Digital metrics and KPIs: Going digital creates many opportunities to collect and leverage data for continuous improvement. The latest enterprise applications can report real-time, cross-organisational performance data while allowing managers to ‘drill down’ through the information to get to the root causes of problems.
Although many logistics operations can be automated, your staff remains your most valuable asset. Advanced labour management tools offer many opportunities to improve productivity, quality and employee retention.
Preparing your business for digital logistics
It’s one thing to know why digital logistics is so important for wholesalers. But how can it be implemented in your organisation? Here are some guidelines.
- Consolidate your data: One of the biggest challenges of digital migration is pulling your existing data out of silos and consolidating it. Cloud-based databases and applications can support this by offering highly flexible data models and low cost of entry.
- It’s all about mobility: The latest generation of web-based logistics gives everyone access to the data they need when they need it. Deploying smart devices across the organisation, including tablets, notebooks, smartphones and mobile printers, will help to maximise staff coordination and productivity.
- Use your data: The data at your disposal can potentially be used for much more than just reviewing past patterns and internal processes. With the right ‘big data’ expertise at hand, it can also help you to spot important trends, such as potential competitive threats, or when local conditions are likely to affect operations.
Today’s wholesalers have a huge array of powerful digital logistics tools at their disposal, many of which can be deployed quickly at an affordable cost. Used together, they can offer significantly faster cycle times, lower cost overheads, and exceptional customer satisfaction.
For more information on how Brother can be part of your digital logistics solution visit our corporate solutions website