The distribution industry is responsible for the complex task of getting products from the manufacturer to the buyer. This often involves working with a number of suppliers along the line, adapting as needed to their pricing and transaction structures. Modern technology offers a number of powerful solutions along the line that can make it easier for distributors to do their jobs. Watch for these tech trends to change the shape of the industry in the coming years.
A growing number of distributors are choosing to automate administrative tasks. This allows the business to ultimately shrink its on-site office staff. Today's software solutions make it possible to automate payroll, data entry, order management, and even onboarding tasks. Automation can eliminate a great deal of human error, such as typos in records or accidentally deleted information.
Well-rounded business management solutions like the Sage ERP can provide a full suite of automation tools applicable to distribution, manufacturing, and more. Working with a cohesive program like this allows for tech-based solutions that are neatly integrated throughout a company's business processes.
Implementing Warehouse Robotics
Robotic material handling is serving a valuable role in today's warehouse environment. Robotic solutions can pick quickly and accurately. Robotics can offer an efficient solution to many problems in the warehouse, such as staffing challenges and the need to increase capacity while reducing cycle time. Warehouses are expected to invest $22.1 billion in robotics around the globe in 2021.
Streamlining the Last Mile
The last mile is one of the most difficult stretches for distribution companies. The closer a product gets to the customer, the fewer items it has to travel with. This can cause shipping costs to skyrocket for that final stretch. Businesses are looking for innovative ways to address the last mile, using technology like delivery drones. Drones have the ability to carry products right to customers' doors while bypassing obstacles like twisting rural roads.
Supply Chain Management Review estimated that drone delivery as a supplement to delivery trucks can provide savings of around 30 percent. Though there are still some obstacles to widespread adoption of this technology, it's an enhancement that is looming large on the horizon.
Utilizing Cloud-Based Solutions
Cloud-based technology offers distributors unparalleled opportunities for streamlined growth. This is crucial in an industry where the market is expanding at an astounding rate. Consumers spent $1.7 trillion on e-commerce in 2015. By 2019, this is expected to increase to $3.5 trillion.
Using the cloud, distributors pay only for the capacity that they need. Adding storage space or processing power is as simple as upgrading your plan. Working in the cloud is something that distributors can do long into the future, as this flexible solution will likely grow and change with its customers.
These key trends in the distribution industry will improve efficiency and cut costs, so companies can get products out to buyers as quickly as possible. Businesses looking to excel in the distribution space will need to take advantage of these tech-based solutions to stay ahead of the competition.