Like many industries, new technology and global economic change have had an impact on wholesale and distribution businesses. The movement of goods is a crucial part of the supply chain, turning over £29 billion in the UK– and analytics play a key role in this sector. Thanks to advanced business intelligence applications that incorporate supply chain-centric analytics, distributors are now able to truly understand their channels in real-time, which can lead to better decisions and ultimately, higher profits.
The complexity of wholesaling combined with the realities of Brexit and COVID-19 presents major business challenges such as managing huge product inventories, narrow margins, diverse downstream customer requirements, long lead times, and unpredictable supply. But how can data and analytics enable wholesalers to overcome these challenges?
There are four main areas where data tools can improve efficiency in the wholesale industry:
1. Stock Management
2. Customer Behaviour and Engagement
3. Simplifying Operations
4. Improved Purchasing
Every wholesale and distribution business revolves around how its stock is managed. Stock management is not just about selling items and stocking them, but more about how well you evaluate your products and, based on that evaluation, how you market them. By combining your stock data with your sales and customer data into one place, businesses can create a single view allowing them to stock enough to fill customer orders without overstocking or going out of stock. With the help of data scientists, businesses can drill into their data to look for patterns that can predict customer behaviour, (even during our uncertain climate) to reduce dead stock and perform cover analysis, preventing wastage. A data warehouse and a BI system modelling on top of this can help you to easily report on that data and gain these insights daily which can be automated, giving visibility across the organisation.
For all wholesalers and distributors, understanding customer preferences and sales networks is crucial. To improve sales and marketing, wholesalers must first determine relevant metrics and analyse that data to ensure sales and marketing are performing to expectations. Using data, wholesalers can uncover insights into consumer behaviour, availability of stock, optimal pricing for the greatest return, and sales network performance. These insights help manufacturers ensure products are developed and sold according to market demand. Using your data, you can then expand your marketing potential helping you to identify and reach out to disengaged customers and reposition products that aren’t selling as well.
Streamlining operations can help reduce operational costs and ensure supply chain continuity and efficiency. By bringing wholesale data on sourcing and procurement, asset availability, work order cycle times and more together and analysing the full ecosystem of processes in one platform, leadership can get a clear picture into how operations are running whether optimising costs in storage or ensuring productivity in the warehouse, allowing them to easily spot inefficiencies and schedule effectively to eliminate waste.
Furthermore, technological advancements in planning software allow wholesalers to implement a proactive approach to the supply chain. Through scenario modelling and continuity planning, businesses can build workflows to understand what needs to happen if there is a problem and can continue to update these plans with changes in the current market. This can help wholesalers stay agile and build operational resilience for the future. This is particularly vital for supply chain, where visibility, tracking and the ability to quickly act on insights can mean the difference between a successful delivery and catastrophic disruption.
Key to driving efficiencies in wholesale is ensuring precision and quality in stock procurement. However, challenges arise from varying costs from multiple suppliers, lack of visibility into supplier pricing packages, and a lack of conformity to quality specifications. Using data, wholesalers can easily compare suppliers by performing bill of materials analysis, stock cover analysis, cost trending and optimisation, and supplier performance scorecards. These insights enable wholesalers to ensure they are purchasing the right quality stock for the best price, maximising their profits and meeting customer expectations.
The future of wholesale distribution is in your data. Tahola has considerable experience helping wholesale distribution companies better understand their data, so our team would be happy to talk to you about any of the areas above. We can find the right solution for every business, with innovative partners we offer a range of data solutions including:
• Qlik Sense
• IBM Planning Analytics
• IBM Cognos Analytics
• Microsoft Azure
• Microsoft Power BI
To better understand your data position and how to equip your business to navigate in the new circumstances, contact Tahola today.