Have You Outgrown Your Distribution System?Have You Outgrown Your Distribution System?

Over the years, I have met with many different business owners within many different industries. They commonly ask themselves “Have we outgrown our distribution system?” without realizing that they are doing it.

The Importance of the Customer Experience

In our tough economy, you need to do more than sell a good product. To be truly competitive, businesses not only need control their inventory and costs, but also the customer experience.

Customers as a rule always look for good affordable products, plus want to be able to place an order easily, know the status of their order and receive good service.  If all of these conditions are present, then the customer will be loyal and tell other people about their experience. Many business owners strive to make this happen while controlling their inventory and costs so they can offer products at an affordable price.

If you are kept awake at night trying to figure out how you can accomplish this with your business, you really are asking yourself, “Have we outgrown our distribution system?”

Here are some indicators that are worth looking at:

  • Have your support costs risen?
  • Do you find yourself not having enough support resources?
  • Are your systems performing slowly?
  • Does the software utilized by your business inhibit users from completing tasks?
  • Do employees ask to add non-authorized software to your system?
  • Does your business maintain data in multiple separate systems that do not exchange information requiring duplicate data entry?
  • Does it take longer to enter a customer order than it does to fulfill it?
  • Are you are unable to track the status of the customer order?
  • Do you have visibility into how much inventory you have and its availability for order fulfillment?
  • Do you find that when performing a physical inventory there are a lot of adjustments and write offs?
  • Are you unable to trace where your inventory came from or who it was sold to?
  • Can you submit orders to vendors in their preferred format?
  • Are you still not making full use of the internet?
  • How easy is it for a customer to place an order?
  • Does your system’s order process and shipping process not follow your internal processes?
  • Have the level of customer complaints raised significantly?
  • Can you fulfill orders for customers in their preferred timeframe?

Take Action

If after considering the above factors you decide that you have outgrown your current system, you can take action by modifying your existing system or replacing it with one that better meets your needs.

In the end, your distribution system should help you control costs, drive sales and keep customers loyal.

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