Anyone in the wholesale packaging or packaging equipment game will tell you that time, value and service are critical. If customers can’t get this vital mix from their supplier they’ll quickly start looking elsewhere, writes Stephen Canning, CEO of JCurve Solutions.
What makes things challenging is that packaging can be a complex operation with unique client requirements around product specifications and design, expectations on fast order turnarounds and competitive pricing.
You may already have a wide range of high-quality products and a solid customer base. However, if you are thinking about speeding up your growth or becoming a streamlined national distribution network with the potential to go global, the key to unlocking this growth and becoming a supplier of choice is often found in four key areas.
1. Superior customer service: Providing a fast and responsive customer experience to each of your customers.
2. More scalability: Scaling up and growing faster with flexible systems that don’t slow you down.
3. Improved processes: Finding more streamlined and efficient ways of doing business, while still retaining quality.
4. Protect profit margins: Cutting costs, improving productivity and getting better supplier deals.
Succeeding in these four areas can be achieved by implementing clever technology and automation within your business management systems.
What are business management systems? They’re software applications that manage your business operations. For small businesses, it could be the spreadsheets used to track inventory, the accounting system for financials or the shared calendar system for tracking sales appointments. For larger businesses, it might be the backend system managing financials, a separate system to track sales and inventory, and another for customer relationship management (CRM).
You may have noticed a recurring theme here – many systems running separately to manage different business functions. But to become a supplier of choice and set your organisation up for growth you need a unified business management system. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system provides one, single platform to manage and better understand your entire business.
ERP is a consolidated software platform that gives you visibility and control across sales, CRM, inventory, accounting, purchasing, etc, bringing it all together in the one application.
Choosing one business management system for your entire business isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. It’s an investment that, when implemented the right way, can save your company significant time, reduce costs, improve service to customers, and drastically improve profitability.
With your business success and future growth at stake, finding the solution for your needs becomes critical. There are many different vendors, resellers and implementers out there, all touting their strengths. When assessing potential ERP systems, look for one that will:
Your customers are time poor. When you provide a simple, fast and streamlined procurement processes you have a clear competitive advantage by delivering an exceptional customer experience -- each and every time.
Becoming a customer’s sole supplier and providing a single invoice can save customers valuable time.
The packaging industry faces increasing pricing pressures with customers shopping around between suppliers. By streamlining and automating your business processes you won’t just improve productivity - you’ll also reduce operating costs. This gives you more room to move within increased profit margins and gives you the opportunity to compete more aggressively when needed.
You can also minimise wastage with more accurate forecasting that matches your stock to your demand. Not to mention leveraging better pricing quantity breaks from your suppliers when you can confidently buy in larger quantities, knowing the predicted demand for that stock.
Leaving customers waiting can mean missing out on their business. ERP dashboards are live information screens which your warehouse team can use to prioritise the most urgent or important orders that need to go out. Using dashboards is a powerful way to unlock greater productivity and create a more efficient service for your customers.
Also look for a package that integrates with your eCommerce website. Your customers who purchase via the site can then see real-time stock levels, product information, order statuses, and continue ordering - 24/7.
Access to business intelligence
ERP dashboards can be set up customised for different roles and areas of the business. Report snapshots, performance graphs and KPI meters give you real-time insights into business performance. This allows you to make better stock purchasing decisions, manage your cash flow, get more control over your inventory management, and even secure bulk discounts by more accurately predicting purchasing requirements.
Real-time business dashboards can show key metrics such as margins, orders to fulfil, sales by client, inventory levels in the warehouse and items on backorder. Your team can see updated information as it happens and make more insightful, data-driven decisions.
Cloud-based 24/7 access
Opting for a platform that is cloud-based means you can access it from anywhere, anytime. With everyone working from a single source of live information, collaboration is improved across office locations or among staff who are out on the road. It also means you can avoid the high IT infrastructure costs associated with on-premise server-based solutions.
In a digital economy that relies on speed and agility, focusing on becoming a supplier of choice and having lean, efficient operations can make your business more adaptable and more capable of continued growth. The right business management system can be the key to becoming a supplier of choice, improving profitability and setting your business up for faster growth.
About the author
Stephen Canning is the CEO of cloud solution provider, JCurve Solutions and the recent recipient of CEO Magazine’s 2018 Executive of the Year award in the category of IT & Telecommunications Executive of the Year. Canning has proven experience in strategic, business and operational planning, including product and go-to-market strategies. He is passionate about process improvement and understands the challenges of SMEs and growing companies right through to enterprise organisations.