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Today's midsize distributors have the opportunity to leverage their existing IT infrastructures in ways that were impossible a few years ago. By layering advanced, affordable supply chain management (SCM) and electronic data interchange (EDI) functionality on top of their existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, midsize distributors can profit from improved productivity and lower labor costs.
Supply Chain Challenges for the Mid-market: Forklifts are for moving inventory, not for taking out existing systems. In the past, midsize distributors had various advantages that helped them compete against larger competitors. They were able to adjust business practices on the fly, personalize service for customers, and tailor their product offerings--all because they had fewer locations, flat organization charts, and manageable order sizes.
However, meeting the mandates of an increasingly complex and global supply chain is a baseline of doing business no matter what the organization's size. Small and medium companies (those with annual revenues of $250 million (USD) and below) must now look to other differentiators and process improvements to stay ahead of encroaching competitors and to retain their customers. Mid-market companies face the same issues as large companies, but they do not have the same resources to implement costly, high-end, integrated suites to answer the advance of large distributors on their territory. To survive, mid-market organizations should look for solutions that leverage their existing investments in enterprise resource planning (ERP) infrastructures, and augment those capabilities with enterprise-class functionality that integrates the back office to the warehouse.
ERP has matured for mid-market companies. Size, cost, complexity, and necessary manpower were once prohibitive, and mid-sized companies carved out their markets without the help of mammoth ERP applications. As with most technologies, time, adoption curve, and critical mass have dramatically cut the cost and increased the value of ERP solutions. These solutions are now better, cheaper, less complex, and more feature-rich than ever before. Big companies were the unwitting trailblazers in proving the technologies and improving capabilities while helping drive down the cost. Now, mid-market companies can take advantage of the investments and lessons learned of their larger competitors--by leveraging integrated electronic data interchange (EDI) and advanced supply chain execution capabilities alongside an existing ERP system, organizations can realize the benefits of an enterprise-class supply chain platform to meet the needs of both complex and simple supply chains.
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) Delivers the Dream of Fast, Accurate Fulfillment and Inventory Tracking: Fulfillment is the cornerstone of customer retention and growth. Having the, stock in the right quantity, at the right time has a significant impact on the bottom line. Inventory, once a mid-market company's biggest question, is no longer an unknown. Typically, it has been difficult for a midsized organization to have a precise view of inventory targets across all their products. Not having automated processes and real-time inventory updates meant not knowing inventory levels. In order to grow, mid-market companies must be able to handle more fulfillment volume, address customer-specific needs, and leverage solutions that provide intermodal visibility and control.
While small and midsized firms do not have the volume issues that larger distributors face, mid-market companies trying to expand should still seek more advanced fulfillment capabilities to help take them to the next level of growth, whether locally or globally. Global expansion adds new dimensions and complexity to a midsized business. As an increasing amount of inventory is imported globally, whether raw materials or finished goods, keeping track of that inventory becomes even more onerous and cumbersome. In addition, growth requires overcoming additional challenges, such as balancing a modest level of human resources without having to incur significant investments in additional capital assets. Read more...
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