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How Distribution Software Solves These 4 Common Fulfillment Problems

Posted by Brian Radford

Mar 4, 2015

common fulfillment problemsFrom sales and invoicing to warehouse management and inventory tracking, distribution is a very complicated endeavor. As a wholesale distribution company, you're well aware of the challenges associated with fulfillment – you encounter them on a daily basis. Find out how distribution software solves these common problems and helps your business run smoothly.

1. Your customer places an order, but you can't fulfill it.

When your customer places an order – no matter the channel – you're tentatively promising that you're able to fill it. But your inventory is inaccurate or your warehouse is mismanaged, so you're unable to process and fulfill orders as they come in. Your customers, who assume that your product availability is accurate when they place the order, are upset. You've lost their trust and all but eliminated the possibility that they'll return in the future.

How does distribution software help?

Distribution software utilizes data-capture technology to accurately track every item in your inventory. This warehouse management system is linked to barcode scanners, laptops, smartphones and mobile devices, so every item that comes in and out of your warehouse is tracked. Your overall business management system is integrated, so all the tracking data that's captured is immediately synced to the ERP software. This grants you real-time inventory control and visibility into your omnichannel transactions.

2. Your pick-and-pack process is taking too long.

Your inventory tracking tool accurately reflects your available products, so when a customer places an order, you're capable of fulfilling it. But your warehouse isn't organized properly, so your pickers have a difficult time locating or accessing the inventory you have. You waste valuable time and effort just to find the items you need to fulfill your customers' orders.

How does distribution software help?

Inventory control is about more than just knowing how many items you have available for purchase. Knowing you have products available doesn't help if nobody's able to get to them! 

Distribution software streamlines fulfillment by using sequenced order picking: Your employees receive a picking list that guides them to each location in the warehouse, cutting down on back-and-forth travel time. 

Smarter planning reduces wear and tear on your equipment and helps you reduce labor time and cost. Bar code technology eliminates superfluous processes and minimizes human handling. Accurate inventory tracking reduces stock discrepancies and increases the efficiency of your pick-and-pack processes. Distribution software is also equipped with mobile functionality, allowing your employees to use handheld devices (barcode scanners) to correctly identify inventory and eliminate data entry errors.

3. Your orders are incorrectly filled.

You have plenty of products to fulfill orders as they come in, but your inventory is mislabeled. Your pickers find the items they think they're looking for, but the product labels are incorrect. Your orders are filled swiftly … with the wrong items. Now, your customers are aggravated and you lose time and money by rectifying the situation.

How does distribution software help?

A proper warehouse management system helps you organize your inventory and optimize your warehouse layout. Inventory tracking uses product and lot bar codes to confirm that the labels match the products inside your packages. With multiple touch points, you have real-time inventory control, enabling you to check and double-check that your products are labeled correctly. Distribution software also makes it easy to organize your warehouse locations – with similar products or commonly bundled items close together – to make picking easier. Your customers' orders are filled more quickly and with no errors, so your profitability gets a boost.

4. Your inventory tracking process requires the temporary shutdown of your operations.

You have a warehouse management system that gives you inventory control, but physical stock-taking requires that you shut down your facility. You sacrifice productivity and profitability, and your customers are inconvenienced by slow (or halted) fulfillment of their orders.

How does distribution software help?

Distribution software utilizes cycle counting, an inventory tracking process that breaks your inventory down into small, manageable subsets (individual items or bins) to be counted on a regular basis. Each cycle is scheduled for an employee, who is guided by the warehouse management system to the assigned bin. The handler either uses bar code scanning or manual entry to input the quantity of items counted. This data is checked against other inventory tracking records and instantly uploaded to the system for management review. You never waste time or money taking physical inventory, and you eliminate the errors associated with human handling. 

Wholesale distribution businesses have the unique challenges of operating over large geographical distances. Headquarters, warehouses, stores and satellite offices are located in different states or even countries, so connecting everyone is difficult. If you operate in multiple channels (mobile, ecommerce, brick and mortar), you have the added challenge of integrating all of your presences into a single cohesive system. 

Distribution software vaults you over almost every obstacle you encounter in your operations, allowing you to streamline your processes, improve your productivity and reap benefits on your bottom line.

Want to learn more about SMB Suite's distribution software? Click the link below to sign up for a trial run of our comprehensive cloud ERP solution.

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Topics: order management software, distribution software