DISTRIBUTION AND SUPPLY CHAIN TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
Enabling distribution businesses to keep the world turning with modern ERP, CRM and supply chain management technology.
TODAY AND Into the Future, WE HELP YOU GET THE BEST FROM YOUR DISTRIBUTION
Technology for distribution companies promises supply chain visibility, enhanced customer and vendor experiences, and lower costs. To accomplish these, distributors and manufacturers who distribute work with Sikich to deploy Microsoft solutions that:
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GET BEYOND THE SUPPLY CHAIN STATUS QUO
You have goals, dreams, and strategic milestones you want to achieve. We offer the supply-chain expertise and targeted technologies to make them possible. Benefit from our experience in hundreds of distribution assessments and successful software projects.
Keeping the right amount of inventory on hand to meet the demand that you expect, based on your historical data, and avoiding tying up funds in overstock, is still a common sense practice—but it’s simply not enough.
Changes in demand can happen surprisingly quickly. When unforeseen circumstances prompt consumers or businesses to stock up on certain products or find alternatives to them, your offerings may suddenly be attractive to more customers, in larger quantities than you might have expected.
Also, when you distribute through Amazon and similar retailers, you may need to have certain inventory levels always on hand. You may face penalties if you cannot maintain that minimum inventory, run out of stock, and won’t be able to deliver within the turnaround time you committed to.
In Microsoft Dynamics 365 deployed by Sikich, you always have full visibility and meaningful analytics to tell you what inventory levels currently are and how they are trending. The master planning module in Dynamics 365 is the critical engine for helping you manage inventory. All inventory information resides in a single repository, so you don’t have to navigate data silos.
You can go far on the strengths of your products. But you can extend your market reach and brand value even more if it’s also easy to do business with your company. And, when you interact with organizations that are much larger than your own, or which buy from or deliver to multiple businesses similar to yours, this can generate the kind of attention that make you stand out.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools in Microsoft Dynamics 365 help you document and manage commitments, conversations, and experiences with vendors and trading partners. Team members working with vendors can always be fully informed regarding the details of contracts, delivery schedules, discounts, requests, or other business conditions without digging into the company’s files or asking colleagues for help. Neither your associates nor your trading partners have to depend on someone who has information others don’t.
In Sikich-led deployments of Microsoft Dynamics 365, we often integrate a secure vendor portal with your ERP system. The portal’s functionality can meet your requirements for what matters most in vendor relationships. Anytime and without requiring other assistance, vendors can, for example, submit invoices, provide shipping updates, look up orders, or provide proposals.
Some distribution companies take quality risks when they engage with the industry’s leading online retailers. They may be motivated to source less expensive products in an attempt to secure sustainable margins, and quality may be compromised. Other distributors realize that they may have inadvertently risked damaging their business when they learn from customers that a vendor-provided product or component does not meet expectations.
Regaining customer goodwill after a bad experience can take much more effort and expense than winning it the first time.
Your vendor contracts may already stipulate certain base levels of acceptable product quality, but that does not guarantee that quality will be consistent or flawless. You may want to test sample shipments at random when you’re dealing with high volumes. If vendor products or components are essential for your manufacturing and distribution of high-ticket, partly customized items, you’re probably already testing them.
In addition to product quality, pricing, on-time delivery, and professional communications also play into a vendor’s overall performance. The scoring tools in Microsoft Dynamics 365 allow you to record and track such metrics over time. You can review the performance of individual vendors or group them in categories. You see how they trend and can hone in on data points to understand them better. Sikich can provide dashboards and reports for this purpose to augment Dynamics 365.
When you work with a retail organization that describes itself as fanatic or obsessed with customers’ experiences, you have to align with their high standards, or the collaboration won’t work out. You need to uphold your end of the business by honoring your customer promises and delivering quality goods on a tight schedule, with accuracy and speed in all of your processes.
On the other hand, if you treat customers well and garner praise, your search visibility on retail sites may improve and you have a better opportunity to win repeat and referral business.
How do you assess your company’s customer experience today? What are your protocols for improving it? You can use the CRM capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics 365 to manage your customers and commitments, and have a complete, real-time view of your performance to KPIs for customer experience and service levels. Sikich can also help you apply and achieve common industry benchmarks.
For most distributors, satisfying the needs of customers who repeatedly order the same products in similar quantities is not a challenge, but they find it difficult to adjust when demand shifts. Analytics and insight tools like Microsoft Power BI can complement your Dynamics 365 environment to give you early visibility of market volatility, so you can be ready to adjust quickly.
Some distributors offer products through online retail partners and decide to market others through their own channels. You will have your own criteria—profit margins, market share, brand building, customer segmentation—for doing so, and reporting through Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help you target the right product for the right market and channel.
If you want to stand up your own ecommerce, Sikich can deploy and configure the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce module. You can use dashboards developed by Sikich in conjunction with the analytics tools on the Microsoft Azure cloud to gain a real-time view of events in your ecommerce channel and make rapid course corrections.
Some Sikich clients market a small percentage of their products through their own ecommerce venue, while online retail leaders handle the lion’s share of their distribution. Some manufacturers generate considerable revenue by selling parts or supplies online. For other companies, ecommerce is an effective way to remain connected with certain customers and capture their interest when they are ready to offer new services or product upgrades. In any case, the Dynamics 365 environment Sikich implements for you has the scalability, flexibility, and intelligence to manage any number of transactions and profitably serve customers.
Today, many business customers and personal consumers prefer to do business with a distributor that matches their environmental values and can demonstrate pervasive sustainability practices. When you distribute through online retail leaders, these enterprises may expect you to align with their often well-publicized, companywide sustainability initiatives and values.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help you advance sustainability throughout your supply chain. For example, you can make environmentally sound production, packaging, and shipping part of your vendor evaluations. Reports based on these findings can be invaluable for planning procurement weighted toward the vendors which meet your standards and provide transparent disclosure of their accomplishments in sustainability. You can also plan engagements with shipping and logistics providers based on their track record of minimizing their carbon footprint and using energy from renewable sources.
On the other hand, when trading partners or customers ask you about your company’s sustainability programs and progress, you can rely on data and insights based on data in the ERP system to show them how you achieve the benchmarks and KPIs that drive your environmental performance.
Customers and suppliers may be ready for you to assist them in becoming more environmentally responsible. Some distributors offer recycling of products at the end of their lifecycle or of bulky packaging and containers that they cannot reuse or store. In Microsoft Dynamics, you can manage this as a valuable, profitable service that, currently, can still create a powerful competitive distinction for your company.
“We were looking for value-added opportunities, and Microsoft could provide a lot of options. Sikich took the tools Microsoft has available and demonstrated how they could support our various environments.”
Control costs once and for all, and make your best decisions with HeadStart for DISTRIBUTORS
You deserve tools and people who know your business. That’s why we created HEADSTART for Distributors, built on Dynamics 365. It supports your core processes of sales and order management, vendor management, warehousing, logistics and finances. Rather than starting from a blank slate, we offer a preconfigured distribution industry technology solution, based on best practices. HEADSTART maximizes your investment, reduces project duration and cost, and lets you focus on operational excellence through enhanced visibility and insights, streamlined process flow, and enhanced decision support.
WHAT'S NEXT IN DISTRIBUTION MANAGEMENT?
7 Key Areas for Modernizing Distribution
The pandemic highlighted vulnerabilities in how companies source goods and materials and distribute them to customers or reselling trading partners.
There is no doubt that the world of distribution and distribution technology is evolving. The supply chain as we know it has become more complex and fragile than ever, making it more difficult–but also more essential–to plan ahead for the short- and long-term outcomes of decisions. This requires investments in the digital ecosystem, which can be daunting for distributors. It’s clear that a modernization wave is soon coming, but what should you look out for?
This eBook takes you through 7 key supply chain topics today.
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