If there is one thing most distributors understand, it’s this: things have changed in supply chain forecasting. In fact, if you had told many of them a few years ago that they would have trouble getting the product they need, they wouldn’t have believed it. After all, Americans are used to getting what they want, when they need it, in real-time.
But times have changed.
According to Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, “The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.” He’s talking about the supply chain issues and customer demands that are currently affecting most distributors and retailers.
Schwab attributes the declining supply chain to three issues: Covid-19, climate change, and clashing world governments. In other words, the supply chain is collapsing because of everything we’re hearing about in the news.
According to Schwab, “We do not yet know the full extent and the systemic structural changes which will happen, however, we do know the global energy systems, food systems, and supply chains will be deeply affected.”
The worst part? Experts agree that in the coming days and months, the supply chain issues are likely to get worse.
But then Schwab offers hope. “The bottom line,” he says, “is the same: business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.”
Supply Chain Forecasting: What It Means for Distributors
When Schwab spoke of innovation as being the answer to issues of supply chain management, he was likely speaking about things like route accounting software and how it can help distributors with supply chain management. Things like the ability to predict future demand using machine learning, exponential smoothing, quantitative forecasting, and qualitative forecasting can help distributors with their supply chain planning.
Consider Amazon, the world’s largest distributor: It is taking serious strides to accommodate consumers by using various modes of demand forecasting. For instance, the mega-company applied for and was granted a patent for a method and system for anticipatory package shipping where it uses its extensive algorithm to pre-send packages to consumers based on their history of shopping behavior. It’s a bold move made by an innovator that understands how the world is changing.
While your business probably isn’t ready to ship truckloads of products to customers who haven’t yet placed an order, you can also rely on forecasting tools to become the inventory management expert that your customers expect you to be.
What Is Route Accounting Software?
As a distributor, it’s your job to utilize forecasting methods, market research, and long-term planning to ensure that your customers have what they need – on their schedule. But lead times vary by season, and in today’s environment, it’s more difficult than ever to keep track of the moving average without the use of reliable and proven chain forecasting software.
That’s where route accounting software comes in. This forecasting model makes your job easier (and more exacting) by allowing you to help your customers get their orders on time. It makes compensating for delays and disruptions seem easy, even in today’s unpredictable environment.
If being the hero in your customer’s eyes isn’t enough motivation for you to stop using outdated software and join the technological revolution, here are some other reasons why you should consider making the move to route accounting software.
- Plan seasonal purchases based on facts. Without predictive software, you are left to rely on last year’s numbers and your gut feeling about what customers will order this season. That’s no way to run a warehouse. Instead, when you use predictive software, you can plan based on last year’s numbers in addition to an algorithm-based prediction about their orders for the upcoming season.
- Promotions made easy. Predicting the success of a promotion is enough to give any warehouse manager heartburn, but the process can be stress-free when you rely on route accounting software to predict it for you. Rather than guessing, the software will make accurate predictions based on real data. You will never dread having to place orders for promotions again.
- Reduce lead times. Your customers want their products quickly, and if you use predictive software, you will be able to fill their orders faster and reduce lead times because you already have the product in stock. Compared to other distributors that are trying to manage the ordering process in the current environment, you will look like a genius!
- No more excess stock. You know you do it: have a ton of extra stock in the warehouse in case your predictions about customer orders are off. But when you use predictive software, you can eliminate all that extra stock and make room for all those new customer orders once word gets out about how quickly you fulfill orders!
- Improve employee planning. When you know how much product you have to move, it makes it much easier to plan for staff. If you know that the demand for a certain product will be much higher at some point, you can plan to have enough staff ready to move it.
- Just in time. If your customers rely on Just-in-Time (JIT) systems, you know how important it is to have the right amount of stock sitting in the warehouse for them. That can make it stressful, especially in times when shipping times are so unpredictable. But the right warehouse management system can help you overcome the challenges and ensure that your JIT customers always have what they need.
- Get back to service. As a distributor, your core function is to service your customers. That means shipping out products on time and in the quantities that they need. Without the right warehouse management tools, it’s easy to get lost in the details, which means service can take a backseat. That’s no way to please your customers. But once you begin using predictive software, it will free up your time and allow you to get back to what you do best: servicing your clients.
Are You Ready to Be a Hero in Your Customer’s Eyes?
The world is changing, and those who want to continue to outshine their competitors have to innovate in order to make their customers’ lives easier. We get it: shipments and delays have become the norm and your customers are frustrated. The truth is that everyone is feeling the effects of the supply chain issues and while some distributors shrug their shoulders and blame missed or late shipments on the environment, you can be different. You can be one of the innovators who make a difference in the lives of your customers.
If you want to know more about eoStar’s route accounting system, we encourage you to schedule a call with us. We’ll first evaluate your current processes, talk with you about your challenges, and then customize our proprietary technology system to fit your needs. Once your new system is up and running, you will operate your warehouse by making smarter predictions, better decisions, and on-time distribution.
And then your customers will tell others, and they’ll tell others, and soon, you will understand how being an innovator can grow your business, even in difficult times.