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  Posted by: electime      4th May 2021

Electrical machinery and appliances are among the top ten goods imported into the UK from the EU and vice versa. Recent estimates show that the UK exports around £6.4 billion worth of electrical goods to the EU and imports a further £11 billion each year – but figures are likely to plummet as the industry grapples with post-Brexit challenges.

Here, Jon Roberts, senior sales manager at OrderWise, explores how warehouse management systems can help electrical wholesalers mitigate against disruption, price hikes and ensure profitability, without compromising their ability to offer good quality customer service.

The UK’s electrical wholesale distribution market comprises numerous complex supply chains and, due to ongoing disruption and delays caused by Brexit, many are concerned that important trading relationships across the EU could be at risk.

It’s, therefore, more important than ever for electrical wholesalers to be prepared and invest wisely in their warehouse systems. Aside from the Brexit disruption, specialist technology can also alleviate many other challenges previously hampering productivity, such as inaccurate data or visibility issues.

If you’ve been considering investing in new software, here are some factors you should consider;

Knowing what suits your business

I regularly meet with business owners who have been burdened with managing their operations with an unsuitable piece of software, often that they’ve perhaps outgrown or had mis-sold.

Naturally, when looking for a new solution, people reach out to industry peers, seek recommendations or use a search engine to find the most reputable provider. However, every business is different, and what might work for one business certainly isn’t guaranteed to work perfectly for another.

If these new systems can’t do the jobs they were implemented to do, you may find yourself introducing a new process to work around it. This completely defeats the point and rather than driving efficiency, it could actually slow you down.

Understanding your choices

No business should spend money on a product and still have to jump through hoops, so you need to think carefully about what you want from your new software and the issues it’s been implemented to address.

We find that many electrical wholesalers use systems which don’t fulfil their stock and warehouse management requirements. This creates a lot of manual and inefficient processes in their operations and results in the need to find costly workaround solutions.

Instead, often what’s needed is to choose an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, complete with a Warehouse Management System (WMS), which can deliver a strong stock control focus. With features that help control operations within the physical warehouse, driving growth and efficiency, as well as streamlining many of the back-office functions that would previously have drained hours of staff time, it’s a choice that’s ideal especially now, as online opportunities increase.

As many businesses saw during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, cloud-based software is fantastic when working remotely or having to scale up quickly, accessible at any time and from any location. But, it’s important to do your research on the pros and cons to ensuring you’re making the right decision for your business.

How can WMS change operations day-to-day?

A quality WMS will improve accuracy, efficiency and daily productivity and can be adapted to meet the changing needs of your business. For example, OrderWise users have the flexibility to configure how goods in, replenishment and despatch processes are managed based on order volumes. This allows our customers to scale up their warehouse operation during peak times, or to scale back during quieter periods.

Moreover, with businesses operating across multiple branches, stock transfers between sites can quickly be arranged, so orders can be shipped to the customer from the closest branch location, making vast efficiency savings.

Businesses can also implement the likes of barcode-scanning technology, allowing operatives to double, triple or quadruple the amount of orders they were managing prior to software installation.

Mitigate against disruption

As proved throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the ability to mitigate against disruption is key. All warehouses are reliant on the smooth and efficient running of the supply chain and whether it’s goods coming in or out, storage or shipping – delays and shortages can create real problems.

Without specialist software, tracking stock and identifying which product lines have the quickest turnover is also difficult. Via a WMS you can gain invaluable insight into sale data and also be notified of any sudden surges in orders – helping keep downtime to a minimum even in the most testing of circumstances.

Similarly, losing track of where items are located and in what quantities can have big consequences for your business. A WMS can locate and retrieve goods in a matter of seconds, preventing costly oversights or errors.

Help prepare for sudden price hikes

Price fluctuations are part and parcel of the industry, however, there are some simple steps you can take to prepare. With a robust inventory management process, you can prevent over-ordering of stock that inevitably sits on the shelves and decreases your cash flow. Where one branch may be low on stock, you can also identify where goods are needed most and redistribute your inventory rather than purchasing more.

Should prices start to rise, you can quickly amend your order quantity, with full view of your data and the capability to know the items and quantities to order more of, and in which quantity, to cover your business for a set period of time. That way, you can ensure you aren’t left with endless stock that you might not be able to shift, or left short of goods and unable to safeguard the availability of your key lines.

By improving record accuracy, an efficient WMS can also help to reduce lead times, decreasing the need for safety stock that is also a drain on your cash reserves.

The ultimate goal of every business is to remain profitable, and with the import and export of electrical machinery and appliances likely to become more costly, businesses need to be doing everything possible to mitigate against these costs.

To find out more about the cutting edge OrderWise WMS software, visit the website.