As eCommerce has become more and more prominent as a means of selling products directly to customers, distribution management solutions have naturally begun to migrate to the cloud. And many businesses are making the shift to the cloud as well. Some businesses still use legacy distribution management solutions installed locally on a desktop PC or Mac, but going this route has proven to have an increasing number of limitations, especially when there are better options available. As more systems are becoming Web-based, it is now essential to be in the cloud in order to integrate with all of those systems that are in the cloud, too. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having your distribution management system in the cloud.
Synergy Between Your Online Store and Online Marketplaces
Selling products and services online is essential for pretty much any type of business, and you want to have your products visible in the most popular online marketplaces (e.g., eBay and Amazon) as well as search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, and Yahoo). There are even extensions available that can syndicate your product updates and stock levels across all of these different marketplaces; you would just need to make the updates once within the software and then it would send the updates to all of the websites where you have products listed online. You can take advantage of these extensions and API integrations to keep your data centralized so you can act quicker and with greater flexibility to changing supply and demand requirements.
Google and Bing are the most popular search engines right now, and you will definitely want your product pages showing up at the very top of organic search results for keywords and terms that apply to your products. The same thing applies to the merchant center. You always want your products to show up high on the list. Many online retailers do not understand that the organic results and product listing ads are separate platforms for Google and Bing. The former is free, and it depends on the quality of content on the pages, number of links to them, and other SEO factors to determine how high on the list that they appear. The latter is a paid service that is governed by bidding amounts, so companies tell Google or Bing how much they are willing to pay per click, and that determines their placement on the page. Product syndication makes the process of updating product listings much easier, and distribution management software must have this capability to be effective. EBay, Overstock, and Amazon are the most popular 3rd party marketplaces. You can syndicate your products across these platforms as well as via a cloud-based distribution management software.
Optimizing a Warehouse for Faster Picking, Packing, and Shipping
You need to have your warehouse ready to handle different levels of supply and demand. You need to have the right processes in place, your personnel trained, and an advanced software system to glue everything together. You should be prepared for sudden spikes in demand or problems in the supply chain, which can happen on a seasonal basis or at unexpected times of the year. Having a Web-based distribution management solution allows you to quickly identify where the problem is when something goes wrong. You can set rules to be notified at certain inventory levels, order quantities, or other key indicators in the order fulfillment process.
Since your distribution management system can receive and process orders, life is much easier when your orders are centralized from all of your sales channels. The fact that this data is stored in the cloud allows for real-time updates and gives you the ability to see all of this information in a single dashboard. Optimizing your warehouse is an ever-evolving process. It is hard to make the right improvements without accurate order, inventory, and financial data. Having “smart” data allows you to have a “smart” warehouse.
Getting Instant Shipping Quotes
Having a cloud-based distribution management system lets you get shipping quote updates in real time from the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx. This is a huge benefit, as these rates can change due to the slightest change to an order as well as other factors. If you ship products to customers nationwide and worldwide on a regular basis, this saves a lot of time. This is especially true when you are dealing with thousands of locations.
Shipping rates that involve sea freight are much more expensive and have more variance in cost than ground shipping. In addition, keeping track of the relative values of currencies from around the world would be incredibly difficult to do manually, and you would need a system to track the moving target of currency exchange rates in real time. This is also an important part of the point of sale process for the customer – the ability to seamlessly check out online via a safe and secure shopping cart. It greatly assists in automating your selling and order fulfillment process.
Automatic Re-order Points
One of the most integral parts of inventory management and distribution management software is the feature that allows you to set and manage the reorder points for all of the products in your warehouse(s). Stockouts are a major problem that can easily lead to lost revenue and customers. Consumers have many options of where to buy from and are often very impatient. If you can’t fulfill their needs immediately then your competitor likely will. Your ability to supply always needs to be sufficient to meet the demand.
Having your orders and stock levels centralized and tracked in the cloud allows you to accurately forecast and check your reorder points. As soon as a product’s quantity reaches a specified minimum level, you are instantly alerted and told how many new products you should reorder to bring it back to a healthy level without going over the maximum quantity. You need to walk a fine line of preventing both overstocking and stockouts. High carrying costs, product spoilage, and inefficiently used warehouse space can be just as expensive and wasteful as shortages.
Integrating with Multiple Business Solutions
The ability to integrate with multiple business solutions is perhaps the biggest benefit of having a cloud-based distribution management solution. No single app or desktop software can possibly do everything that your business needs – keep all of the departments running smoothly. But nowadays there is an app for just about every individual process that a business needs to automate. You must be able to work with all of these solutions in order to reap the benefits from them. If you have software you installed locally that is unable to reach out via the cloud, you lose the ability to connect it to many other solutions: accounting, shipping, ecommerce shopping carts, time and labor, and more.
Business automation and the ability to synergize with other apps has become the golden standard of how efficient businesses operate. Incredible solutions, such as Zapier, exist to create API bridges between thousands of solutions. Most distribution management systems on the market will integrate with the popular Web-based accounting solutions out there, such as QuickBooks Online and Xero. Integrations with shopping carts from Shopify, Magento, Volusion, and BigCommerce have also become important. Make sure the software you choose integrates with all of the other solutions you use on a daily basis.
You can keep all of your business solutions and apps working in harmony with each other with the help of cloud-based distribution management software. Optimize the order fulfillment process, get instant quotes from a variety of shippers, set up automatic reorder points, and much more with a cloud-based solution. So it is high time that you move your business from hosted to cloud-based distribution management software & reap the above-mentioned benefits!