If you cannot get the product within the buyer’s window, the buyer will go somewhere else, but if you keep too much inventory on hand, you will lose money.
If your prices are not competitive, the buyer will go somewhere else, but if you lower the margin on the items you sell, either through poor pricing or through process inefficiency, you will lose money.
If you cannot provide top-notch customer service, the buyer will go somewhere else, but if you drive up the cost of customer service, you will lose money.
These are some of the most significant postulates of the advertising specialties and promotional products industry—you have to make sales at the right price and keep your customers happy or you won’t be in business very long. Throw into the mix thousands of vendors and 800,000 to 900,000 promotional products available at any given time plus highly fluid trends and seasonality, and you’ve got a real challenge.
To meet this challenge, you need end-to-end visibility into the supply chain. You need to be able to access inventory levels, orders on hand, and forecasts as well as your suppliers’ inventory availability and transportation channels. You need to know how fast can you get how many and how soon can you get them in the hands of your customer. And you need it in real time. And you need it to be consistent—the same information for everyone—sales, fulfillment, customer support—everyone.
But right now you are getting this information via phone call and email. You are checking suppliers’ websites. By doing it this way, you are getting a fragmented picture of your supply chain. You are then entering the information into spreadsheets and then reporting back to your customers. By time you get them the information it is out of date. In today’s market, your processes must be more efficient and your information must be more accurate and more timely or your will not be able to keep up with your competition. Period.
Turn to the Cloud. Today’s Cloud ERP systems allow anywhere, anytime access to real-time information and give you the means to collaborate with suppliers and communicate with customers. And integrated systems like Acumatica give you visibility into the entire supply chain, from ordering from the supplier to delivery to the customer. This integration not only gives you visibility, it enables the automation of entire processes and workflows, lets you create alerts, and allows for digital approvals. Reporting and analytics become possible over the entire supply chain and KPIs, which often take some data from here and some data from there, become easy to calculate and track.
But most important, with an integrated Cloud system tailored for the promotional products industry, you will be able to achieve a level of customer satisfaction that just isn’t possible using a patched together network of information pulled together by telephone and email and consolidated in spreadsheets and on a paper napkin. You will be able to optimize ordering and inventories and meet “needed by” deadlines, maintaining margins increasing your brand performance. And you’ll be able to quickly pull together the information you need to quote profitable prices while recognizing customer history and loyalty. And you will be able to better serve your customers with a smooth return process and effective feedback mechanisms. With Cloud visibility into the supply chain, you’ll be able to balance both sides of the each of the equations for success—the postulates we started with.
To see what Acumatica Cloud ERP can do for your advertising specialty or promotional products company, contact NexVue at 203.327.0800 or visit us online at www.nexvue.com.
This post was originally published in June 2017 but has been updated for relevance and accuracy.
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