Software recommendations for small to medium B2B firms
Written by Rob Piancone
We love what we do as a leading provider of logistics and distribution services throughout Mexico. We have specialised in doing so for companies in the food and beverage industry and the consumer product goods industry. We possess a superb reputation for knowing the avenues and pitfalls that will help such organizations be successful in their cross-border initiatives.
Other businesses have similar values and commitment to customer service. The work they do is a labour of love- carefully scrutinising budgets to keep overheads low, prices reasonable and people employed.
Technology plays a key part in our ability to manage inventory, take orders and streamline our supply chain operations. To that end, there are four systems that I find essential to keeping things humming at my work that I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to recommend to other business-to-business operations:
1. QuickBooks Enterprise with Advanced Inventory. For medium-sized companies like ours, this program has all the capabilities needed to keep track of multiple currencies, financials, budgets and profitability. The system also allows for serial and lot number tracking, “First-in-First-out” costing of merchandise and handling multiple warehouses. We can now accurately track inventory across our five distribution centres in Mexico along with our San Diego warehouse, and assign that inventory to sales receipts and invoices.
2. Santrio’s Open for Business.This web-based order processing system integrates with our QuickBooks program in a cost effective manner. The system took about two days to integrate and allows our sales reps and customers to quickly look up product data, pricing and availability without ever having to speak with me or our back office team directly. The platform also provides each client with their own unique, customized order form that they can complete and submit without ever sending us a fax, email or voice mail. Doing so expedites their order with greater accuracy and practically eliminates our 8-12 minute time constraint per order, or what amounts to about one week per month of time. Furthermore, using a service like this drastically cuts down on ordering errors, which translates to less headaches and happier customers, sales people and office staff.
3. SphereWMS. The warehouse management solution simplifies our complex order and inventory business processes, making it easier for us to manage multi-client and multi-site warehouse operations and manage the flow of information between trading partners, suppliers and carriers throughout all logistics processes.
4. uFollowIt. The delivery management solution simplifies our load tracking and POD service available; with precise location status and delivery alerts as well as Single Shot multiple load tracking screens. Users can perform unlimited tracking, supported with Android/I-Phone Smart Phones.
We can all use a bit of technology help. Supply chain and inventory management operations are no exception. The issue is how much to get and spend. The four systems are not only essential, but won’t bust the budget in the process.
About the Author
Rob Piancone is the COO of NERY’s Logistics, Inc., a leading provider of logistics and distribution services throughout Mexico. We have specialized in doing so for companies in the food and beverage industry and the consumer products goods industry for many years. He can be reached at [email protected]
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.