How Wholesalers and Distributors Can Use Analytics to Boost Productivity

One of our long-time partners, Sage Software, wrote an excellent article about using analytics to boost productivity. The following article is a high-level look at the main points in the original Sage Software article.

With advances in retailer demand, and technology analytics can play a crucial part in the movement of goods within a company’s supply chain. This is especially important for wholesalers and distributors to recognize and continue to keep up with industry changes and advances.

Many industries have been impacted by new technology and economic change this trickles down and impacts wholesale and distribution businesses in the following ways:

  • They are caught between the demands of manufacturers looking for more efficiency, and retailers that want them to be more responsive. Technology disruption means there are now considerable margin pressures.
  • It’s now possible for retailers to use online wholesale marketplaces to work directly with manufacturers, cutting out a distributor entirely. Many distributors and wholesalers are struggling to cope with an increasingly digital world.
  • With the e-commerce experience improving, customers are more likely to be online. With so much choice, it also takes more to win their loyalty.
    Competition is getting tougher. Think of giants such as Amazon and the threat of new wholesale and distribution entrants.
  • It’s getting harder to find the right talent. There’s a struggle to understand a millennial generation that has different workplace demands – so where is the next generation of leaders coming from?

A recent study by the Aberdeen Group reported that the biggest challenges wholesale or distributors face is a need to reduce costs. The two leading challenges that follow are, the need to manage growth expectations, and changing customer needs.

To address these challenges another Aberdeen study showed that wholesalers and distributors are enacting the strategies highlighted in the chart below:

Companies are looking to new technologies to streamline processes, and optimize supply chains. Specifically, modern accounting software that handles critical back-end processes, such as purchase history, billing and shipping details, supply chain management, financial data, and accounting information. Modern ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Platforms allow users the ability to not just streamline processes but also improve collaboration internally and customer facing.

A big challenge wholesale distributors face centers around supply chain and getting products to customers when they need them. Aberdeen stats show you need to have ERP solutions with integrated business functionality to become a leader in wholesale and distribution. By integrating your ERP systems and utilizing advances in technology you allow your business to understand prospects and clients better, as well as manage relationships, sales, and marketing.

A modern accounting system should have customer relationship management (CRM) systems either built in or integrated to the solution. CRM platforms manage the fron-end information, such as customer interaction data, sales and pipeline tracking, prospecting and marketing campaign data.

As you can see in the chart above wholesaler and distributor leaders are three times more likely than followers to have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems integrated with ERP. Having such an integration can create a centralized portal for customer data, interacting with supply chain functionality.

Another area to be aware of is ecommerce. B2B e-commerce can improve the way you communicate with retailers and manufacturers, making it easier for you to order from each other. If you don’t do this, your business could become vulnerable to competition with more effective and efficient e-commerce operations.

Predictive Analytics. What is it and why does it matter?

Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from data mining, predictive modelling, and machine learning, that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events.

According to an Aberdeen study conducted in 2017 leading wholesale and distribution businesses use the relevant data from their ERP systems to make better decisions and react in a more proactive way. “Leaders are 72% more likely to have business analytics integrated into ERP, which means they can make better decisions backed up with evidence and perform more accurate demand planning.” – Asavin Wattanajantra, Sage Software

For organizations with lots of moving parts real-time visibility is essential for handling logistics in an agile manner. Modern ERP software can consume data, in conjunction with predictive analytics allowing companies to better plan and forecast demand as well as inform changes in workflows.

Sage software employee, Asavin Wattanajantra, states that predictive analytics could help you to:

  • Improve communication and understanding between the distributor and wholesaler sales departments and retailers. For instance, it could allow a wholesale or distributor sales representative to provide valuable insight to a retail buyer, and showcase the most relevant and valuable products coming up in upcoming orders.
  • Analyze data on what retailers have purchased in the past to predict future sales. Sharing this data with manufacturing suppliers could be extremely valuable, as normally suppliers will only have data on quantities sold rather than information that can help with product strategy.

The last Aberdeen study we will present shows some of the reasons why businesses are choosing cloud:

“There are the challenges that come with outdated applications. It’s costly and time-consuming to update them, and outdated applications just don’t provide access to the most updated functionality and best practices. Not only is this a limiting factor as organizations attempt to be more agile in product delivery, but it also means that old solutions just are not adequate.” Aberdeen Group

To learn more about boosting productivity through analytics feel free to reach out to our team by email, or phone (440) 352-4700.

To read the original article click here. Learn how since implementing Sage Mobile Sales, this companies sales went up by 16 percent. Read the case study here.

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