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8 Tips For Running A Successful Distribution Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Distribution Business|8 Tips For Running A Successful Distribution BusinessWhile it is important to manufacture and deliver good products to drive more sales, most businesses would fall apart without an efficient distribution system.

An efficient distribution system is imperative for any business to thrive, especially in a global economy. Customers now shop online and expect to receive their products on time. So, if you’re planning on entering the business, now’s a good time. And if you’re already in it and want some quick tips on how to improve it, you’ve come to the right place. Listed below are a few tips that’ll help you run a distribution business successfully.

Manage your cash flow

Cash flow management may sound very simple- keeping track of the money coming in and going out. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. The process gets tricky when money is tied up in stock. Making purchase and sale decisions and meeting other business expenditures becomes a headache in this case as maintaining balance is essential. One bad decision can lead to a series of losses for your business.

So, use tech tools to stay on top of your accounts payable and receivable. Set reminders for sending customers, suppliers, and vendors timely invoices to pay their dues. Doing so will help you stay in the green zone when managing cash flow.

Skill up

If you’re an enthusiastic learner, consider equipping yourself with additional know-how in supply chain management. Or motivate an existing resource in your business to do the same.

You can search for a budget-friendly online MBA in supply chain management on the internet to fast-track the learning process. These online degrees/courses specially cater to professionals looking for ways to enhance their knowledge, but don’t have all the time in the world to go back to campus-based education. By enrolling in such a course, you’ll learn many new tricks of the trade, including better inventory management, decision-making, etc. The updated info will help you run your operations more seamlessly.

Invest in automation

It’s always good to invest in your business and upgrade it. So, if you’re still running your business the old-school way, it’s time to become tech-savvy. Automating your processes, including inventory management, payments, and tracking will help you manage operations better and provide customers with better services. Your system will also be able to generate purchase reorders to keep inventory levels at the desired number for each product. This way, you won’t have to constantly count what to order and restock.

Automation will help reduce time lost in manual labor and eliminate errors in order fulfillment. You can then use the money and resources you save in other crucial business aspects such as marketing and customer support.

Organize your inventory

Maintaining inventory is perhaps the most essential part of a distribution business. If your inventory is unorganized, work will get difficult to manage. Staying on top of it is imperative, and some proactive measures can go a long way for your business.

Track and update your stock with invoices and physically oversee the store to double-check. It’s good to use technology here, i.e., barcode tagging and scanning to log incoming and outgoing shipments. Ensure your warehouse is tidy, well-organized, and safe from environmental threats. The last thing you want is your merchandise being damaged before it even reaches customers.

Make the ordering process simple

If a customer can’t place an order easily, they’ll likely not use your service again. Therefore, you must ensure your customers have a seamless experience while using your service.

A user-friendly website can be of great help. Ensure your website loads fast, and use efficient software to reduce the ordering time for the customer. Keep navigation simple and provide multiple payment options to facilitate more customers. Providing a fast, seamless experience means people will be more likely to use your service again and recommend it to others.

Prioritize customer support

At the end of the day, happy customers will drive your business to success. And considering that you’re not the only one in the industry, providing excellent customer support will help you retain a competitive edge.

Instead of relying solely on low-price strategies, focus on the quality of service and maintaining high customer satisfaction levels. Always provide your customers with the best products and services. Use chatbots on your website and social media accounts to provide 24/7 support and address customer complaints. You can also collect feedback from your customers on how they feel you can improve your service and incorporate it into your business model. You can leverage trust in your brand to build a loyal customer base for a steady income stream.

Invest in staff development

As a business owner, you must see if your staff is suitably equipped to adapt to any long-term organizational changes you implement. Investing in their growth means investing in your business growth also.

Providing your staff with the proper tools and training will ensure better productivity, whether it’s stock handling or customer support. This is also a good way to keep your staff more engaged, motivated, and loyal to your business. While employee turnover rates in 2021 were as high as 57%, research states that 94% of employees would stay with their current jobs if employers invested in their long-term training. So, invest in building a solid team.

Branch out your sales channels

A diverse customer base is always ideal for a business. However, you can’t cater to more customers with limited sales channels. So market your business and establish touchpoints n different channels, including social media and third-party retailers like Amazon. Incorporate an omnichannel strategy in your marketing mix. By catering to more customers, you can nurture more leads and sales.

Conclusion

When running a distribution business, the stakes are high because customers want their stuff on time and in good shape. This article mentions a few tips to help you run such a business model smoothly. While sound management is essential along with tech integration and providing customers a seamless experience, consider honing your expertise in the supply chain industry by seeking more education. By following the tips mentioned above, you can increase your chances of running a successful distribution company.

8 Easy Ways Any Company Can Improve Inventory Management

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution ArticleProper inventory management is one of the keys to keeping your business running smoothly and remaining profitable. Make mistakes here, and you may run out of best sellers, buy products you don’t need, and waste resources you can’t afford to lose. Here are eight essential inventory management tips every business should follow. We’ll focus on universal advice that almost any firm can implement.

Manage Inventory via Software

Don’t rely on spreadsheets to track software. Spreadsheets can be deleted. Cell values could be deleted or overwritten. Formulas may be altered, scrambling values elsewhere in the spreadsheet.

One of the best ways to manage inventory is by using software designed for this task instead. The ideal case is switching to inventory management software that integrates with your accounting system. Then the inventory is automatically updated as you sell items or buy more. That is why a QuickBooks Inventory management tool is invaluable – it is already tied to software you already use. QuickBooks lacks serial numbers, scanning barcodes and shipping. An inventory management tool can handle all of this. There are several tools that will allow you adjust stock levels in inventory checks and automatically remove inventory from stock when you receive orders so you don’t accidentally sell more than you actually have on hand. They will also help you track items reserved for sales orders and you can track inventory status, such as when you’re waiting for products to arrive so you can fill outstanding orders.

Have Clear Product Names

If you want to avoid problems with customer orders and internal inventory management, have a clear product naming system. You could use manufacturer part numbers, though this may be confusing if different manufacturers use similar part numbers for very different products. The ideal situation is creating internal part numbers that make it very obvious what someone is picking up. Instead of CRAY008 and CRAY016 for crayons in boxes of 8 and 18, label them “crayons, set of 8” and “crayons, set of 16”.

Set Minimum Stock Levels

Nearly every inventory management system allows you to set minimum stock levels, and most have reorder points. This ensures that you won’t run out of items. The best inventory management systems allow you to calculate reorder points based on historical data so you can order items based on how quickly you actually consume the product. You can still set low inventory alerts to ensure that you never run out.

Implement FIFO

FIFO is first in, first out inventory management. This is one of the oldest inventory management techniques, and it remains one of the most popular. A major reason of this is that it minimizes spoilage and the associated waste, since you’re selling the oldest items first. This isn’t limited to perishable goods that can spoil; it is applicable to other products, as well. Move your oldest products first so that they don’t become obsolete due to changes in packaging or industry standards. It simply requires setting up inventory so that the oldest items are on the front of the shelf and picked by employees, though you’ll want to train people to check expiration dates. You’ll also have to train staff to ensure that the FIFO system is properly maintained, instead of someone hurriedly stocking the front of each shelf with the newest products.

Keep the Warehouse Organized

If the warehouse itself is disorganized, how can you reasonably expect your staff to keep your inventory organized? Don’t let crates of packaged inventory pile up in aisles; have them immediately emptied and the shelves stocked. Keep work surfaces as clean as possible. Make certain that items are clearly labeled.

Also, make sure that you have formal processes for each task. Document how people perform tasks like placing purchase orders, receiving items, fulfilling orders and checking stock levels.

Do Regular Checks

Inventory management systems don’t eliminate the need to do inventory checks. People may make mistakes when checking in deliveries or in their data entry. Theft, spoilage and property damage may erode your inventory, too.

There are two main ways to check inventory. One way is with a complete physical inventory – checking all inventories – usually done at the end of the month. The other way is with cycle counting, counting small sections of the inventory on a particular day. You can mix and match with these tactics, such as doing surface area cycle counts for particular aisles in the warehouse each day but checking large physical item inventory every quarter or year.

Prioritize with an ABC System

An ABC system allows you to prioritize inventory checks and product maintenance. The “A” items are high value items that have low turnover. “B” items have some value and sell at a steady rate. “C” items have low value but sell in large numbers. “A” items should be checked for spoilage, maintenance and theft regularly, since you have so much money tied up in them. “B” items are a lower priority, since they don’t cost you as much but do move steadily. “C” items require little attention since they move quickly and cost very little, though you’ll want to make sure you have enough in stock.

Only Order with Purchase Orders

Only place orders via purchase orders. Don’t let employees place orders over the phone with your vendors. They may order items you don’t really need or can’t afford to buy at this point. By requiring people to order via a purchase order, it forces every purchase to be checked against inventory levels and the budget. No one orders an item that’s already on its way from the supplier. It creates a paper trail so that no one is surprised by a delivery of widgets. There’s no confusion regarding the payment terms or rush to figure out how to pay for something that just hit the dock. It ensures that inventory knows when to expect delivery and gives management a chance to negotiate purchase prices.

You cannot afford for the gap between accurate inventory numbers and bookkeeping to grow. This knowledge gap prevents your firm from being able to plan for the future or know the true state of operations.

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Why Every Business Owner Should Study Supply Chain Management

No matter if you run a manufacturing business or  a small online store, you need to stay competitive by making sure that you reduce waste and improve customer satisfaction every day. Supply chain management is sometimes considered as a posh name for logistics, but it does entail much more than making sure that products are delivered from Point A to B. If you are serious about improving your business and your productivity, you have to take supply chain management more seriously in the future. Find out more about why it is important for every 21st century entrepreneur.

Improving Productivity

Having an effective supply chain management system in place will reduce idle times in your business. Even if you deliver services for customers, you will need to make sure that you complete the work in time, and get paid faster. Nobody wants to pay employees to sit around, therefore, getting the work done as soon as possible, delivering it to the client, and getting paid in a shorter time will free up time to complete other jobs. This will improve your organization’s performance, and you can benefit from more value created each day by your company.

Reducing Regulatory Risks

Having a supply chain management can also reduce your organization’s risks of non-compliance. By managing your suppliers and contractors effectively, you can conduct spot checks. When documenting the different processes that take place in your company, you can find the risks easier. If you evaluate your contractors regularly and check their processes, you will have a better chance of complying with the current regulations, and making sure they do everything by the books.

Utilizing Talent Better

If you have an effective supply chain management system set up, you’ll be able to get everyone the right job in your organization. By measuring the performance of different processes in the organization, you can find the right match for your talent. If someone has an outstanding performance on one job, but they underdeliver on other areas, you can identify the gaps in their skills and knowledge and provide them with support and training that will not only make them more valuable for the company, but also more motivated.

Preventing Fraud

By following the route of products or services from the point of order to delivery, you can track materials and reduce the risk of fraud within the organization. You can track your spendings and your inventory, and control your costs. If you check the qualities and keep an eye on the stock, you can prevent internal fraud as well.

Reducing Waste

One of the main benefits of having a well-designed supply chain is that you can reduce waste. By following up the route of raw materials through the channel until they become the end product. Identifying waste will be easier, and you can address the quality issues as soon as possible. This will leave your customers more satisfied, and there will be more money left in your pocket, too. From making sure that no two employees have to do the same job twice to reducing the waiting times, there are several ways your company will benefit from an improved supply chain.

Improved Delivery Times

When your supply chain runs smoothly, you can get better delivery times and serve your customers better. Choosing the right delivery company is crucial. Check out Jayde Transport to find out more about additional tracking services and supply chain solutions that can take your company to the next level. When you deliver faster than other companies, you can build a competitive advantage and improve your customer retention rates. This will translate to higher profitability and reduced marketing costs.

Better Quality

Quality assurance is important in both manufacturing and wholesale. If you are able to check the quality at different stages, you can improve it over time. Adding checkpoints in your supply chain will help you identify defects and address them. This means that your customers will always get the best quality product or service, and you don’t have to spend money on external audits to find out where your profits disappear.

Customer Satisfaction

If you record when an item or enters a new process, you can account for all materials, and provide your customers with up to date information, too. Customers will get a product that has been followed up and checked at different points, so there will be fewer complaints related to quality. When designing your supply chain, you will need to have customer satisfaction in mind. From maintaining a constant quality to eliminating waste, everything will improve your end product and customers’ experience.

Reduced Operational Expenses

As a result of maintaining quality standards, reducing waste in terms of materials, resources, and time, you can improve your profitability. By managing and tracking your expenses, you can offer more value for less to your customers. If you implement quality checks in your supply chain, you can save money on replacements, refunds, and time on separate checks.

Improved Strategy

A supply chain management will be helping you create a better long term strategy. You don’t have to micromanage the different stages of product or service delivery, and you can focus on the things that matter. If you can predict delivery times and the cost of production, you can calculate the profits better and make continuous improvements to increase your income. Creating a strategy that is focused on building company assets will help you remain competitive, no matter which industry you are in.

Whether you are in the wholesale business or deliver services for businesses, managing your supply chain and improving it constantly will help you achieve higher profits and better profitability. You can improve your customer satisfaction and retention rates, while managing your talent and resources better. Studying supply chain management will have more several benefits for you as a professional and your company, other than another degree on your office wall. Through keeping an eye on the supply chain, you can make processes more effective and better functioning.

Conscientious consumers or creatures of habit? A focus on our supply chains

We are all consumers, no doubt about that. And I think it’s safe to say that we are all creatures of habit…to an extent.

We buy the products we are familiar with, the products that we grew up with. This is definitely true for me. When I first left the family home and moved out into the real world on my own, I remember doing my first ‘big shop’ at the local supermarket. Without really thinking about it, my trolley was slowly but surely filling up with the products I recognised from the time of living with my parents.

Without even realising it, here I was buying the products that my parents had used because they were familiar to me. There was no other real reason behind my choice (apart from probably cost).

It got me thinking… how much thought do we really give to the products we buy?


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About the Author

Laura GibbonsLaura Gibbons is a driven and committed marketing professional with over 10 years’ experience. Working closely with Ideagen’s Marketing Executives and Partner teams, Laura is responsible for looking after the Ideagen brand across multiple sectors within the region.

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