The simple things leading Distributors do to stay competitive and profitable

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When running a small to medium sized business, it might be difficult to understand why it’s important to look to big businesses for inspiration.

After all, their size, infrastructure, profits and assets are larger, so how could their systems be relevant to you?

Yet, industry leaders (whether they are global heavyweights or thriving local businesses) often run their businesses in a dynamic, forward-thinking way – which is ultimately translatable to businesses of any size, in any sector.

You don’t have to be like Amazon and announce you are building drones to deliver goods to stay head of the pack (although nothing is stopping you from doing that either)! Just look at the key attributes of businesses that are leading the way in the realms of distribution, logistics and supply chain management, and see how you can apply the same thinking and processes to your organisation.

Leading distributors routinely:

Embrace technology

In the world of distribution, there is very little room left for dinosaurs. The way you operated five, ten or fifteen years ago is rapidly becoming less and less relevant to ‘the now’. Warehouse automation has changed the game of picking and packing, forever. Gone are the days of packing orders off pieces of paper, or memorising data off computer screens while wandering around a stock room.

Leading distributors recognise the value of cloud-based supply chain management systems, which offer increased cost savings and productivity. Most large businesses have implemented cloud-based technology into their organisations, and now we are seeing this trickle down into small and medium sized businesses too. Integration of next generation technology doesn’t have to be costly – set up and maintenance costs are remarkably low when considering the real cost savings and immediate, lasting benefits.

Recognise the importance of data

Cloud-based technology allows information to be collected, managed and used in real time. This data is a real, gold mine for managers and analysts who can view reports using real-time data and therefore manage supply and demand more easily. Capturing, managing and using your data efficiently and effectively is one of the best ways to predict customer behaviour and then tailor your offering for increased profit and customer satisfaction.

Streamline their supply chains

Great businesses constantly find ways to streamline their supply chains to reduce costs and boost productivity. They don’t view their supply chain as static – it’s a fluid, changing business element. Victorian-based company Australian Fresh Leaf has won much recognition for their innovative supply chain initiatives, and have recorded significant profits for a relatively new business.

The team behind Australian Fresh Leaf emphasise the importance of operational tightness and efficiency, and use technology to make their supply chain management among the world’s most effective.

Stay open to change

You’ve heard it before but businesses that stay flexible and adaptable have a greater chance of long term success. The business case of Kodak is a classic example of missing the chance to innovate, and condemning your business in the process of ‘staying stuck’. While photography is currently riding a wave of global popularity, Kodak hasn’t found a way to integrate new technology into its business model.

One of the world’s most recognisable brands missed its opportunity to stay relevant and profitable in the face of changing tides. On the other hand, leading businesses like Amazon, McDonalds, Starbucks, Apple, Ebay and Disney constantly innovate, offer new products and refine their way of doing business, to great effect.

These days, it truly is a case of ‘evolve or dissolve’.

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