Businesses struggle immensely due to inefficiency, errors and slow processing. It’s almost inevitable to bear losses as a result of operations; from over and under stocking supplies to issues with order taking and problems such as delayed delivery—there’s a lot that can go wrong.
One of the biggest ways to minimise losses is through the streamlining and improvement of supply chain management. From the moment supplies come in and an order is placed, till it’s delivered to clients, there’s a lot that goes on and a lot at stake. Making the shift from a traditional, manual supply chain management (SCM) style to an automated one can be very beneficial.
How can the SCM process be automated?
Given that there are multiple stages and facets of SCM, there are different ways to automate it. Companies and businesses can opt for complete automation, switching completely to use of technology, or they can choose to automate certain aspects such as:
· Order taking and tracking
Through this, orders are saved and processed, using software and other digital forms including tablets, trackers and more. This form of automation makes for an accurate, simple, efficient order taking process, with lower chances of mistakes.
Since it’s digitised and automated, with everything happening online, clients can easily keep track of their orders and any updates that they need.
· Inventory management
This is another very useful application of SCM automation since wholesalers can order stock accordingly. With each processed order, the stocks are updated via software, providing an updated record of existing and dead stock. It’s incredibly hard for people to do this manually, whether a business is small or large.
For large businesses, orders and stocks are quite big, which makes it difficult to keep track of, whereas small businesses tend to lack personnel.
This is a specific type of automation that makes use of robotics and robots in various forms, in order to speed up or enhance the production process.
Machine learning, complex tools and devices, remote construction and all sorts of engineering processes can use robotics. It is also used in the SCM process for packaging, processing and shipping supplies and orders.
Not all industries require or benefit from robotisation the same, which means it may not be the right investment for everyone to make.
· Automated trucking and packaging
An industry that’s growing rapidly and expected to get even bigger in the coming years, automated trucking and packaging is the answer to industry shortage of labour.
Companies like UPS have begun to operate self-driving trucks and machines that complete deliveries efficiently and safely, only getting smarter with more developments. Again, it’s an expensive and tricky mode of automation that’s better suited to specific industries and large businesses.
Packaging is more flexible, given that a lot of businesses could stand to benefit from it. Secure, safe delivery, that preserves the contents being sent to clients can improve overall business performance. This is especially effective for an industry like the food and business industry, where wholesalers are dealing with perishable items all the time.
· Payments and invoicing
Another highly practical aspect of automation is payment and invoicing; when invoices are digitised, they’re more easily recorded and saved. They can be linked to accounts, both internal and external, which make it much easier to process payments that are made and received.
Everything is kept in a secure place, with easy access and clear tracking of the ins and outflow of payments. Digital invoices also help keep a straighter record, removing any chance of fraud or error.
· Accounting and financing
Speaking of payments, a major benefit of automation is for the purpose of accounting and financing. Through digital ledgers and accounting software, or software and applications that integrate tracking expenses and income along with other features, businesses can keep track of their debit and credit histories.
In addition to that, it’s an expense saved because there’s no need for hiring accountants or outsourcing accounts and audits to firms. This also helps alleviate the burden from business owners themselves who might have had to manage this aspect of their work.
· Monitoring progress
Since a lot of these software track data, trends and information about day-to-day operations and more specific aspects, they can help in understanding performance. Certain software are specifically designed for this purpose; others come with this feature added.
For instance, OrderTron is an OMS, but generates data that business owners can use for tracking their performance and strategizing better.
· Customer service
Another game changer, automating customer care partially or completely is a very effective strategy. You can do this with chat-bots that will communicate with clients or building a system where clients can have queries and concerns addressed or setting up a medium where clients can speak to customer representatives directly.
It varies from business to business and across industries. Some wholesalers and manufacturers for instance, even use Augmented Reality (AR) in their manufacturing process. Automation has come a long way and can go even further. However, AR is better suited to complex manufacturing processes such as the automotive industry, or other design and engineering related work.
An excellent example of automating the SCM is the use of Order Management System (OMS) and Inventory Management Software (IMS). Each of these has a variety of features and advantages that businesses, especially those in the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry can utilise.
The Advantages of OMS for SCM
For the purpose of improving SCM, a lot of small businesses make use of order management software that can make their operations run more smoothly.
The benefits of using an OMS extend across many tiers and stages of the SCM process by applying many of the aforementioned possibilities. With a specific focus on food service supply companies and wholesalers, some key advantages of an OMS are:
Faster order processing
This is the biggest advantage an OMS offers suppliers. When your entire business centres around taking orders and processing them, slow order processing can affect operations and client satisfaction.
An OMS allows instant order placement and the software processes it immediately. Clients can access your catalogue from anywhere and place an order for supplies or set a running order on a schedule.
Fewer errors in order processing
Apart from fast order processing, an OMS lowers and almost eradicates errors altogether. Since everything is on record, clear cut and simple, there are fewer chances of any mistakes and oversights.
Exact amounts and figures are presented, especially if the order is a repeated order. It’s efficient since business owners no longer need to worry about quantities and supplies being mishandled.
Real time updates of orders and inventory
Another major advantage is the ease with which orders can be tracked and inventories updated. Since the software records the inventory, any orders indicating changes to it are updated in real time.
This offers a clear idea of stocks and what needs to be re-ordered from manufacturers when stocks are running low and gives a more accurate estimate of how much stock needs to be on standby.
For wholesale businesses, especially food suppliers, this helps avoid the issue of dead stock and overstocking perishable goods. When a business ends up overstocking, it’s capital that’s hung up and inefficiently used. In fact, it leads to losses in the long run.
Communication with Clients
Through an OMS, clients and suppliers can also communicate with each other; sometimes directly, other times indirectly.
This varies from software to software, but generally, the idea is to make communications clear and simple so there is no issue that emerges later. When orders are digitally placed and there is transparency, both parties can be held accountable.
Record keeping and accounting
An OMS like OrderTron keeps track of your payments and income by integrating with your accounting systems. It’s a bonus feature that heftily reduces data entry and saves time, increases efficiency and reflects in real time the profits you make.
The software stores all your data when processing an order, so there’s no longer any need for manual data entry and recordkeeping of invoices, reports, slips, delivery details and much more. Everything is on a cloud and can be saved and accessed any time, allowing complete transparency.
Efficiency and Mobility
With the reduced data entry and amount of time spent on processing orders, there’s greater flexibility that businesses have to take on more clients. They can easily process more orders throughout the day, managing inventory accordingly.
In fact, seeing as how OrderTron mobile apps can be downloaded for both supplier and client, there’s also a lot of mobility in its use. You can place and process an order on the go, with a few taps of your mobile phone.
To learn more about the use of OrderTron, visit our get in touch with us. We aim to help small businesses prosper!