Discussions about digital transformation often lead off with the phrase, “Just imagine if…” Just image that you could use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to build a new kind of relationship with customers. Just imagine that you could track an order from receipt through delivery in real time. For a lot of companies, it’s pie in the sky. In distribution, the pie has already been served. You just have to order a slice. You don’t have to “just imagine” a digital transformation if you have the right tools.
Digital Transformation, the Concept
What is digital transformation? Briefly, digital transformation is a concept that started out in life as marketing hype but is quickly becoming reality. At its core, digital transformation involves using advances in application integration technology, cloud computing, data analytics and “edge computing” IoT devices to transform your relationship with customers, employees and partners. It enables you to venture into new business models and competitive strategies.
Digital Transformation in Distribution
The distribution business was actually an innovator in the practices that now comprise digital transformation. Distributors adopted computer-based order tracking, inventory management and the like years before anyone else. You may not remember, but before about 1990, if you shipped a package, you had a 0% chance of knowing when it was going to be delivered. You could call the carrier and ask, but they didn’t know.
Today, instant online or phone-based order tracking, along with dozens of comparable real-time processes, are simply an expectation of doing business. The problem with this is that once business practices become a given, they are no longer competitive. If every distribution company offers online order tracking, your distribution business is another dime, among dozens. Learn more in Looking at 2020 Distribution Industry Trends with ERP in Mind.
The challenge—and opportunity—for distribution companies is to use technology to take the business to new levels of efficiency and competitiveness. This is not always easy, but the tooling is definitely available to make it happen if you want it. With cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica, distributors can implement a range of digitally transformative processes and practices in their businesses. These include:
- Maintaining a real-time view of your customer’s activities across all your operations. This is made possible by integrating field service operations software with back office systems.
- Tracking customer engagement from first contact through opportunity creation, price quoting order processing, scheduling of installation and follow up field services—connecting mobile devices with ERP and accounting software as well as with data analytics and reporting tools.
- Using data visualization to spot issues in field service quality—and react in real time with route optimization
- Leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) for predictive maintenance that optimizes field service and keeps customers happy
- Discovering the optimal marketing processes to identify and convert the best prospects into high-grossing accounts—by analyzing account performance data with marketing campaigns
- Increasing back office productivity by automating workflows and becoming more efficient at document management, e.g. for contracts and sales orders
- Integrating with partner firms for better supply chain management and customer service
Acumatica Distribution Edition delivers, giving your business control over their supply chain and logistics activities, including warehouse management, inventory management, and order management. Built in the cloud and customized for your needs, Acumatica helps companies improve customer satisfaction, reduce order times, and control costs across the entire supply and distribution chain.
CCS Technology has considerable experience in the distribution vertical, equipping clients with industry-specific tools that ensure a smooth process, top-notch security, and consistent reliability. We’ll make sure your clients can count on you. Contact us to learn more.