Integrated cloud ERP and CRM systems can help cut distributors’ order-to-fulfillment time by streamlining the exchange of information and increasing visibility.
A recent move by Wal-Mart demonstrates how important it is to decrease fulfillment times. According to an article on the Multichannel Merchant website, Wal-Mart recently announced the construction of two new, large fulfillment centers dedicated exclusively to online orders.
The first of the centers, an 800,000-square-foot facility in Fort Worth, Texas, started shipping in late September. The second center, located in Bethlehem, Pa., will be Wal-Mart’s largest at more than 1 million square feet. It is set to open early next year.
This is just one example of how order fulfillment is a high priority moving forward for distributors — even those considerably smaller than large businesses like Wal-Mart. Lowering fulfillment times requires a streamlined process for exchanging information and for employees to have visibility into the supply chain. Both can be accomplished with integrated cloud ERP and CRM systems.
Integrated ERP and CRM systems provide a way for the sales department, for example, to efficiently exchange information with the order processing department.
With integrated systems, a prospect’s information can be automatically transferred from the CRM to the ERP system. This reduces or even eliminates the need for manual data entry to create a customer record. Automated entry is always more accurate and quicker.
Likewise, quotes are generally created in the cloud CRM system, and they can easily be converted to a sales order in the cloud ERP system. Of course, the process is dependent upon accurate information being entered into the CRM system. It’s incumbent upon the salespeople to ensure this is done correctly and early in the process.
Why is it important to enter data as soon as possible? It’s more efficient to add information to the order as it advances throughout the process. In other words, you want to build upon information that’s generated as orders move toward fulfillment.
The visibility created by integrated cloud ERP and CRM systems can also help reduce fulfillment time. For example, you could minimize labor by allowing the sales team to offer price breaks at specific quantities.
The idea is to have salespeople push order sizes that mesh with your inventory. You’ll avoid extra work if you don’t have to break down cases or ship packages that aren’t full. You can only actively pursue this more efficient option, though, if your sales team is able to see what those numbers are.
Visibility is an important focus area for many distributors. According to an article on the Aberdeen Group website, a majority of respondents to a survey identified improving supply chain visibility as a key initiative. Of 149 companies with largely global supply chains, 68 percent said visibility was a high priority.
Wal-Mart’s move comes as it seeks to improve its omni-channel order fulfillment, a goal many distributors are also pursuing. As an article on the Enterra Insights website reports, visibility will be critical in such endeavors.
“Clearly, successful omni-channel operations involve a number of technologies that can track supplies in real-time as well as predictive analytics that ensure supply is going to be able to meet demand,” the article states.
Reducing order to fulfillment time is a priority for many distributors, but in order to do so, they must know what they’re working with and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Integrated cloud ERP and CRM systems are crucial to streamlining communication between departments and increasing visibility into the process.