Managing Customer Expectations in Today’s Electronic World

Mark Jensen, director of product management, Epicor

Mark Jensen, director of product management, Epicor

By Mark Jensen, director of product management, Epicor

At times, the pace of change for personal technology seems daunting and overwhelming.  Yet, with the emergence of each of these newer technologies, consumers are become acclimated to the conveniences that they experience and they begin to expect a technological breakthrough with every purchases that they make. As your customers’ expectations increase in their personal lives, the capabilities of your supply chain must improve as well; consumers are looking for the faster, easiest and better experience. The driving force behind all of this is e-commerce, though not in its most literal definition of buying and paying for goods through the Internet, but rather for the technology infrastructure changes e-commerce brings. E-commerce is redefining the distribution landscape, which means that wholesalers must rethink roles, processes, and culture, and invest in new technologies in order to remain relevant in the new digital economy.

For many distributors, older, legacy solutions that lack the required functionality and support needed are fragmenting the availability of information. And function-based, organizational silos and manual processes are inhibiting collaboration and the ability of distributors’ to respond to growth opportunities with speed and agility. With more complex order fulfilment requirements, distributors must engage in a bottom-up strategic redesign of processes, with the customer in mind, and invest in new technologies that enable integrated workflows and collaboration across the demand-to-fulfill network. Collaborative technologies such as Cloud, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and mobile, which enable the merging of functional silos, will be imperative in both contributing and responding to integrated business intelligence.

The time to start is now

Many organizations put off the decision to update software because of the fear of disruption to their business. This is a mistake, because, as today’s consumers have discovered, technology can enable convenience and efficiency. To minimize disruption when implementing new software, it’s important to follow a strategic selection framework. First identify business requirements, then identify technical requirements, and lastly, plan for problems. You want a system that provides you with a complete enterprise software solution that takes your business from order entry to the warehouse, from financial management to purchasing, and ties everything together with comprehensive inventory management functionality that keeps your business running smoothly, effectively, and successfully.

The ability to adapt to customer requirements in real-time is a key component to consider when selecting an ERP solution. Your order management processes directly affect your customers and how they view your business. Customers demand faster, better service, and will go elsewhere if you can’t meet their needs. For instance, in today’s electronic world, customers expect you to have a web-based storefront in order to do business with them. So, you will want to invest in an ERP system that allows your customers to use your secure web site as their business system to keep track of what they ordered and download account-specific information, including past invoices—a value-added service that provides the convenience and overall service your customers have come to expect.

Today’s digital landscape demands new ways of working and industry-leading distributors will recognize the need to invest in an integrated ERP solution that provides them with the visibility and agility they need to collaborate across the supply chain. The ability to adapt to shifting customer requirements, as quickly as you can, will be key in to delivering the seamless, connected experience your customers are coming to expect.