Commentary | IT Matters: Logistics & Supply Chain Technology

B2B Commerce Technology Improves Fulfillment Times and Supply Management

Tags: E-commerce, Manufacturing, Fulfillment, Supply Chain

Michael Elmgreen is Chief Marketing Officer, Handshake, 646-580-9630

For manufacturers and distributors, order delivery speed and product availability have never been more important. As their B2B buyers face the pressures of today’s on-demand economy, fulfillment times and availability can mean the difference between keeping a customer or not. To ensure customer satisfaction, many companies look for workflow improvements in their warehouses and distribution centers.

However, fulfillment times and demand planning can often be improved simply by starting with the ordering process. Enhancing how orders are recorded, submitted, and processed can produce significant gains. Implementing B2B commerce software that puts the latest technology in the hands of order writers and integrates with core back office systems drives operational efficiencies that reduce fulfillment times while also improving inventory forecasting.

Faster Order Writing and Submission

B2B commerce technology provides manufacturers and distributors with a consolidated platform of mobile and online solutions for creating and managing orders. These modern solutions are intuitive, mobile-first applications running on consumer technology like the iPad and iPhone or e-commerce websites that are designed specifically for the B2B purchasing process. Manufacturers and distributors can provide a mobile order writing app to their sales reps and a separate B2B e-commerce application for their customers.

Manufacturers and distributors can ensure that relevant customer account information is on hand. They can provide customer-specific product catalogs to speed up the ordering process by ensuring only products relevant to that buyer are available for purchase. The product catalog also includes HD images, so the sales rep or customer can visually confirm they are ordering the right products. Customer-specific pricing and supplier promotions are easily managed within the system and applied to orders.

With key information, such as pricing, SKU numbers, and shipping addresses, readily available and accurate, order processing isn’t delayed due to errors. This highly visual, familiar digital experience enables sales reps and customers to rapidly write an order and instantly sync it to the manufacturers’ and distributors’ back office systems.

Rapid Order Processing

By consolidating sales channels on a single digital ordering platform that integrates these applications with manufacturers’ and distributors’ fulfillment systems, orders can be synced directly from the field to the back office. Suppliers remove the delays and fulfillment errors that occur when dependent on legacy methods like paper order forms and human data entry, improving both speed and accuracy.

With orders being quickly written and submitted to back office teams, the fulfillment process for an order can begin minutes after the order has been written. Staff can confirm the order and start the next steps; in many cases, allowing orders to be sent to the warehouse, picked and packed for shipment same day, and delivered the next.

Enhanced Supply Management

Faster order writing and submission enables manufacturers and distributors that adopt B2B commerce technology to develop a quicker feedback loop on inventory and demand. For starters, inventory information can be provided to sales reps and customers while the order is being built. This enables sales reps to avoid out-of-stock items, and for customers to choose other products that might be available. Suppliers can even provide a promotion for certain goods as a way of selling inventory that is aging or in excess supply. B2B commerce technology helps today’s leading manufacturers and distributors focus on moving the inventory that is available and increase fulfillment times by reducing backorders.

In addition, manufacturers and distributors sell many products seasonally. B2B commerce technology provides a faster way for sales reps to develop pre-books. By getting the information quickly from the field, manufacturers know how much inventory to build for the upcoming season and lock-in production financing. Receiving early preseason orders fast also enables planning around inventory for at-once orders during the season, which can also be captured through the B2B commerce platform. Through this virtuous cycle of fast and easy order writing and instantaneous submission, manufacturers and distributors have a clearer insight into the supply and demand of their business.

With demand for speed and convenience at an all-time high, the need to streamline and speed up order fulfillment is more important than ever. Technology that allows sales reps and customers to rapidly write orders and submit them almost instantaneously for fulfillment is a major competitive advantage.






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