If you want to maximize your operational efficiency, analyze trends to prepare for the upcoming quarter, and improve your company’s decision-making, you already have everything you need to do just that. The answer is in your data.
The reality is that you’re sitting on a gold mine of information—whether you’re utilizing it or not. Every transaction, every shipment, every interaction with a customer leaves a digital footprint. Analyzing company data can do a world of good in determining how well you’re allocating resources, where processes are lagging, areas for improvement, and much more. That said, you need to know which types of metrics to look for and what to do with them before you can start reaping the benefits of data analysis.
There’s no substitute for high-quality data, and you can bet that making business decisions like inventory forecasting and software investments will become a lot easier when you have accurate information to inform your choices.
Furthermore, every distributor knows that order fulfillment thrives on precision and timeliness. Seemingly small mistakes like inaccurate inventory forecasting or delayed shipments can lead to significant losses. When you invest in optimizing your data, you can leverage accurate, real-time information about your inventory, orders, shipments, and more that you can rely on.
Aside from ensuring precision in your operation, there are many benefits to investing in high-quality data:
When you’re competing against giants like Amazon, customer service is king. Customers expect a seamless experience when buying from you—from quick shipping to a responsive support team if an issue arises. With optimized data, you can exceed these expectations through tracking customer preferences, buying behavior, and feedback, so your sales and CSR teams can tailor their services to customers’ needs. As a result, you’ll see an uptick in customer loyalty and overall satisfaction.
Whether you’ve got too much inventory or not enough, both hinder your profitability—which is why accurate inventory forecasting is an essential part of order management. Investing in your data via inventory management systems helps you strike the delicate balance between overstocking and stockouts and maintain full inventory visibility.
Zero in on demand patterns, seasonality, and trends, so you can make informed decisions about procurement, storage, and allocation with high accuracy. With the right information, you can keep your warehouse running smoothly, avoid bottlenecks and delays, and keep customer satisfaction high.
“[We’ve] been using [SalesPad] now for a few years and we have the historical data in there now. It is wonderful there. I can look at that sales analysis by month or by year or by quarter to see who’s buying it. Was that one special order that took all of them? Or is this a trend that we typically sell this many of them?”
— Homer Trecartin, Manager of Sales & Production Planning at Twixwood Nursery
From warehouse space to delivery routes, utilizing your assets is essential in distribution. Identifying high-demand regions and underutilized areas of your company allows you to optimize your team’s time and redirect them to more productive areas when necessary.
Adapting to market shifts, supply chain disruptions, and other hiccups in the distribution industry will set you apart from other businesses that are slow to react. When you take the time to invest in metrics like customer preferences and emerging trends, you’ll gain an edge over your competition by responding more quickly to challenges and shifts in your industry.
The most valuable metrics to track will vary from business to business, but prioritizing data from the following categories is a great starting point:
For any product-based business, it’s critical to know which inventory is driving the most revenue. With that data in hand, you can allocate your resources according to the highest-performing areas.
“The biggest advantage we see in having SalesPad is the analytics piece of it. So we have over 1,400 customers, and we can go into Sales Analysis and look at the categories and subcategories, and see which of our customers aren’t leveraging a certain segment of our business.”
— Bryan O’Connell, CEO of geckobrands
Accurate and abundant inventory data will prove invaluable when it comes to processes like demand forecasting and replenishment. Avoid tying up your capital or losing out on sales, while maintaining timely order fulfillment.
Refine your marketing efforts by zeroing in on customer behavior. The more you know about your customers’ buying habits, the better customer service your team can provide, and the more likely you are to engage in successful cross-selling and upselling.
While it’s tempting to narrow your focus to sales- and revenue-centric metrics, tracking quality and compliance data is just as important. Keeping this information in mind will aid in maintaining product integrity, meeting regulatory requirements, and strengthening customer trust.
For leadership in particular, tracking financial metrics plays a pivotal role in assessing the overall health of the business. Having this data on hand also better informs those making financial decisions and investments.
One of the best ways to gain a competitive edge in your industry is through leveraging relevant market data. Understanding market dynamics better enables you to predict shifts and respond accordingly, as well as fine-tune your pricing and marketing strategies.
Aside from gathering customer data, it’s worthwhile to collect their feedback as well. Product-based businesses thrive on positive customer relationships, so any opportunity to improve the customer experience is valuable.
Data is at the heart of everything you do. From making better-informed business decisions to gaining a competitive edge in responding to market shifts, there’s no question that optimizing your data is a worthwhile investment. Over time, you can begin to analyze changes in your business as well, and—to some extent—predict trends in your industry.
If you’ve found success with reporting and data analysis, join the conversation on LinkedIn to share your strategies. If you’re just getting started, contact us to begin capitalizing on your data.