The trick to effective wholesale automation
If your business involves wholesale operations, you’re familiar with the many challenges hampering your productivity and profitability.
That’s where wholesale automation comes in.
As the world becomes increasingly digital, leveraging automation is no longer an option but a necessity.
This guide dives deep into wholesale automation, shedding light on:
- What automation means in the wholesale industry.
- The various types of automation systems.
- Benefits of automating your wholesale processes.
But because it’s not all sunshine and roses, you’ll also review some challenges with implementing these systems.
The goal? To arm you with the knowledge you need to navigate the world of wholesale automation confidently.
What is automation in the wholesale industry?
Automation in the wholesale industry refers to turning manual tasks into automated workflows with the help of integrated systems.
Picture this: you set up an automatic reorder from a supplier when your inventory levels reach a certain threshold.
Better yet, by storing data across your organization in a centralized system, you can automatically reorder those materials.
Imagine sending emails, notifications, and quotes without moving a finger. That’s what automation wholesale is all about!
Types of automation systems for wholesale
There are numerous ways to automate your business. Let’s look at some types of wholesale automation systems.
Back-office automation systems
Back-office automation systems transform the way you handle administrative tasks.
These systems use software applications to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks like:
- Data entry.
- Inventory management.
- Accounting functions.
For example, automated accounting software can manage your financial processes by tracking incoming and outgoing payments and predicting cash flow based on historical data.
Similarly, inventory management software can keep track of stock levels in real-time, issue alerts when stock is low or nearing expiry, and predict future stock requirements.
This wholesale automation allows your team to focus on more strategic responsibilities that grow your business.
Warehouse automation systems
When it comes to automation in wholesale, warehouse automation systems are game-changers.
These systems simplify your warehousing operations using advanced technologies like:
- Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS).
- Conveyor belt systems.
They greatly enhance accuracy and speed up your operations, ensuring a seamless flow from inventory management to order fulfillment.
Smart automation products and technologies
Ever heard of bringing intelligence into your wholesale operations? Think of technologies that can analyze purchasing patterns and predict future demand.
Smart automation products, like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), make that possible by:.
- Enabling real-time monitoring and autonomous decision-making.
- Automatically optimizing inventory levels.
Overall, smart automation technologies are a type of wholesale automation offering sophisticated solutions to complex challenges.
Process automation involves using technology to automate complex processes with numerous steps.
For example, a typical order management process involves:
- Receiving the order.
- Checking inventory.
- Picking and packing items.
- Distributing the order.
- Invoicing the customer.
- Collecting payment.
Automating this process reduces the order fulfillment time and human error while ensuring a seamless customer experience.
Similarly, automated procurement systems can:
- Send purchase orders.
- Track deliveries.
- Evaluate suppliers based on performance metrics.
When it comes to automating your quote-to-sales processes, software can help you automate each step. From managing customer interactions to collecting payment, see how Method simplifies your operations.
Benefits of automation for wholesale companies
Now that you’re familiar with the different types of automation, it’s easy to see where automation wholesale can come in to save your business.
Let’s dive deeper into the benefits you reap with wholesale automation.
Accurate inventory counts and lists
Inventory management is a critical process in wholesale trading, where systematic errors can cause adverse financial impacts to the seller or distributor.
In the old days, businesses counted items manually or used RFID tags. This is either labor-intensive or too expensive for many operations.
One of the ways automation improves inventory accuracy is through real-time tracking.
Automated inventory management systems continually update inventory levels as products move in and out of the warehouse. This makes forecasting customer demand patterns easy, reducing overstocking or understocking issues.
Automation also eliminates the need for manual data entry, which usually causes errors in inventory management.
By integrating with other systems like Point of Sale (POS) or supplier databases, these systems automatically update inventory counts whenever a sale is made or a new shipment is received. This form of wholesale automation:
- Improves inventory accuracy.
- Saves time and resources.
- Eliminates labor-intensive tasks.
Increased customer satisfaction and experience
In today’s competitive business world, an outstanding customer experience is crucial. Wholesale automation contributes to this by streamlining operations and enabling personalized interactions.
Wholesale automation enhances customer satisfaction and experience through:
- Faster service — Automated systems process, fill, and ship order much faster than manual methods. Nearly 80% of American consumers cite speed, convenience, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.
- Improved accuracy — Automation increases inventory accuracy, ensuring customers receive what they order and lessening the chance of errors that lead to dissatisfaction. A survey by Voxware found that 69% of consumers are less likely to shop with a retailer again if an item they bought is not delivered correctly.
- 24/7 availability — Automated systems handle interactions round the clock so customers can place orders or make inquiries anytime.
- Personalized experiences — Advanced automation systems use data analytics to understand customer preferences and behavior. This helps you offer personalized product recommendations, promotions, and communications.
Decreased human error in repetitive tasks
Human error is one of the most common causes of errors in wholesale inventory management. Even the most skilled worker is not immune to making mistakes, especially when doing repetitive tasks.
Stress and fatigue are factors that cause 48.8% of human errors. Over time, these errors accumulate, resulting in high costs for your business.
Consider a case where your employee may need to manually change customer data in three different places. What if they forget to change the information in at least one field?
At best, you lose time finding and fixing the error. But you also risk losing money and maybe even a customer.
Little oversights like accidental duplicates or incorrect data in a transaction document can be detrimental to your business.
With wholesale automation, the system consistently takes charge of your workflow and applies the same action to every process, reducing the chance of errors.
Challenges of integrating automation in wholesale
While automation wholesale comes with numerous benefits, there are potential pitfalls to worth considering.
Risk of high maintenance costs for the new system
Maintenance costs for warehouse management and physical systems can be expensive.
If you don’t have the in-house staff and expertise to maintain and fix these systems, standard or emergency maintenance will incur added expenses and potentially interrupt operations.
A good third-party service provider can lessen these issues, especially with regular maintenance. It’s much better to have a predictable disruption for regularly scheduled maintenance than unexpected equipment failure.
You might also need periodic system upgrades to keep up with the latest features and improvements. So make sure to factor costs of:
- Regular software updates.
- Hardware maintenance.
- System malfunction repairs.
Another essential upfront cost when installing new systems or hiring new employees is staff training. This prevents risks to both your workers’ health and your business. Introducing wholesale automation is an investment, but the right system can make up the costs over time while making you more competitive.
Fear of job loss due to reduced need for human labor
As automation reduces manual labor, workers may fear losing their jobs. Automated systems perform repetitive and routine tasks more efficiently than humans.
But while it’s true that automation replaces some roles, it also creates new opportunities.
Many processes can’t be fully automated and still require a human touch. Examples include:
- Customer service.
- Strategic planning.
- Critical decision-making.
But you still need to address your workers’ concerns.
Transparent communication, recurrent training, and upskilling programs help employees adapt to new roles in the automation wholesale environment.
Example of automation in wholesale workflows
Sales invoices processing
In wholesale operations, handling invoices can be a time-consuming process. Through software, you can automate generating, sending, and tracking invoices with minimal human intervention.
It automatically pulls data from sales orders to create the invoices and sends them directly to customers via email or other digital platforms.
The software also:
- Tracks payments.
- Sends reminders for overdue invoices.
- Updates financial records.
Order fulfillment and logistics tracking
Automation in wholesale also revamps your order fulfillment and logistics tracking activities.
Once a customer places an order, an automated system immediately processes it and alerts the warehouse so the order can be packed and dispatched for delivery as quickly as possible.
This reduces your order-to-delivery time significantly, increasing customer satisfaction.
On the logistics side, automation allows real-time tracking of shipments, further helping you with:
- Monitoring goods in transit.
- Predicting accurate delivery times.
- Maintaining transparency with customers.
Customer demands and complaints handling
Handling customer demands and complaints manually is challenging and inefficient. With a vast number of queries to deal with, many may slip through the cracks.
But with automation, wholesale businesses can use tools like AI-powered chatbots and automated email responses to handle customer inquiries promptly.
These technologies help you:
- Identify and categorize customer issues.
- Quickly respond to common queries.
- Escalate complex problems to human agents.
The results are faster responses, fewer human errors, and a more personalized customer experience.
Supply chain and inventory management
Automation is also making strides in supply chain and inventory management. These nifty automated wholesale systems can:
- Track stock levels in real time.
- Predict demand based on historical data.
- Automatically reorder products when stock is running low.
In the supply chain front, wholesale automation provides real-time visibility into every process stage, from sourcing to distribution. This helps you identify and address any bottlenecks or inefficiencies to boost operational efficiency.
Get started: Automate your wholesale business with Method
Method is the #1 wholesale automation solution for QuickBooks and Xero users. It simplifies your operations with its:
- Powerful real-time, two-way QuickBooks or Xero.
- Inventory tracking and management features.
- Personalized customer service tools to boost customer satisfaction.