Why Modern Distribution Requires Real-Time Visibility
Distribution can either be one of your greatest strengths or most problematic weaknesses. There are very few businesses these days that are not deeply dependent on their distribution networks. The ones that succeed are able to meet the expectations of today’s customers while bypassing issues that can drain resources. Conversely, the ones that fail are at a distinct competitive disadvantage and often fade into irrelevance.
The challenge of perfecting modern distribution is one that is notoriously difficult and seemingly in a constant state of flux. As a result, the enterprises that are trying to preserve their position or catch up to the pack are often unsure of where to invest, what to prioritize, and how to change. To some extent, the answers to those questions will be different for everyone. But one feature that is a universal necessity is real-time visibility.
Many enterprises assume they have this capability already, especially if they are relying on ERP distribution software. But the difference between “up to date” and “real time” is huge. And when data is simply up to date, it has limited utility for today’s fast-paced and highly-complex distribution networks.
Real-time visibility means that the data accurately reflects current conditions and is viewable to all involved team members. The data is not a day behind, or even an hour behind. Rather, the data is a perfect window into every aspect of the distribution process.
That is exactly the kind of perspective a dynamic distribution process requires, because the success or failure of that process is dependent on so many interconnected variables. If and when one of those variables changes, it could have a deep impact on everything else. Without real-time visibility showing you the causes and effects the minute they occur, there is no way to respond/react in a swift and targeted way.
With real-time visibility in place through something like ERP distribution software, it’s possible to more avoid disruptions and delays. But more importantly, it’s possible to make a serious effort to optimize a distribution process:
- Increase Agility – Real-time visibility is a crucial component of effective warehouse management. It becomes possible to slash the cost of inventory and reduce stockouts while enhancing your approach to order management.
- Seize New Opportunities – If and when a new business opportunity presents itself, it’s possible to re-calibrate distribution in a fraction of the time. If your competitors do not have the same capability, this puts you at a distinct advantage.
- Keep Pace with Growth – Even steady, predictable growth can put a serious strain on an existing distribution process. Real-time visibility reveals those points of stress before they lead to compromises, empowering businesses to look forward rather than backward.
- Improve Customer Relationship Management – Your ability to meet the distribution needs and wants of your customers has a direct impact on their satisfaction and loyalty. With real-time visibility, it’s easier to understand these requirements in-depth and identify opportunities to go above and beyond.
All of these capabilities are already huge assets. But it must be noted that as distribution continues to become both more challenging and more imperative, those assets will transform into obligations. No one can expect their approach to distribution to remain the same for long. And when it becomes necessary to make changes, enterprises will want to have a clear-eyed view into every corner of their distribution process.
To understand how real-time visibility would affect your enterprise, just do an honest evaluation of your current approach to distribution. Do you feel like you’re in control and ahead of the curve, or does it seem like unforeseen events are compromising your success? If you fall into the second category, real-time visibility is the crucial missing element.