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Many businesses operating within the distribution industry find it hard to manage their operations throughout peak periods such as Christmas and other national holidays.

However, the rise of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has become a tradition in itself and a peak period for distributors. With Christmas fast approaching along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the need to optimise processes internally to ensure streamlined efficiency and the effective management of each stage of the distribution process throughout these spikes in demand is crucial. 

How can a distributor use the benefits of ERP software to help them prepare for peak periods?

Demand Forecasting  

Through utilising demand forecasting, distributors are now able to better predict the level of demand for their products in order to improve the process from start to finish and to also optimise other areas such as inventory and delivery to improve customer satisfaction, particularly in periods of high demand. This is achieved through taking historical purchasing data with machine learning capabilities to produce a predicted demand based on a previous years sales and also other variables which may effect the overall level of demand.  You can also make changes to forecasts in order to tailor in factors which may not be apparent from historical data such as changes in legislation, current affairs or changes happening within the industry. Distributors can provide excellent customer service through identifying trends and anticipating changes within the market, better enabling you to predict and forecast demand during peak periods throughout the year.   

Optimise Stock Management & Resources 

Stock Management - Once a demand forecast has been produced, stock inventory levels and resources must be optimised to be able to meet the predicted demand and satisfy customer needs. This can be achieved through reports being taken from historical data which provide insight into trends such as most popular line items or items frequently bought together, while also showing how well you  performed against previous year’s figures to provide awareness for future predictions. The time frame in which demand rises and falls is another significant indicator which will allow distributors to optimise their stock levels and management processes. If you are aware of the times of year that demand starts to rise and fall, resources and inventory can be sourced accordingly to ensure there is never shortfall in stock, and demand can always be met while also being able to prevent over purchasing and being left with dead stock items. 

Staff Resources - Being able to optimise business staffing levels and resources is also vital in being able to meet the demands of peak periods throughout the year. Through the use of ERP software, which provides complete visibility, distributors can optimise staff resources during busy periods to ensure the required and correctly skilled people are always on hand to meet customer demand. 

Optimise Delivery Process 

Combining an increase in planning from demand forecasting and stock/resource management, the delivery process can be optimised accordingly based on improvements made within these areas. There’s nothing worse than a late delivery, especially when your customer needs it now. Through increased planning, required customer delivery times can be achieved. This will improve the overall level of customer satisfaction which ultimately will affect a distributor’s bottom line positively. Distributors can ensure that their deliveries are always timely through assisted updates and optimised routing options based around a variety of variables to provide accurate delivery times to customers, which helps to improve customer satisfaction while also modernising the delivery process. Warehousing software solutions provide complete visibility throughout the transportation process, with every shipment there is always the need to validate the subsequent billing documentation so enhanced freight reconciliation capabilities are also included as part of these transportation features.