FOCUS > IT, SOFTWARE AND E-BUSINESS
Tooled-up on Tech
Torque Magazine rounds up IT, software and e-businesses with sales-i, OGL, Power Now and NiceLabel…
2020 has presented merchants, wholesalers and distributors with a long list of challenges that have meant businesses have needed to adapt, diversify and re-strategise to stay ahead of the competition, or sometimes to simply survive. This means businesses, now more than ever, need to take full advantage of the technology solutions available to them to remain flexible and agile throughout 2021 and beyond.
Continuing advancements in cloud computing, connectivity and artificial intelligence are all helping ERP systems to grow and improve. Cloud computing provides real-time access to data and software from any location creating a mobile workforce and AI enables further workflow automation and most importantly provides greater insight into key business data that historically was locked away in legacy systems. These ERP advancements help businesses provide an improved working environment where employees benefit from a better work life balance and feel empowered in their role to make smarter and quicker decisions. ERP systems crucially ensure business continuity so companies can continue to supply goods to customers no matter the change in market conditions.
It’s no secret that ERP systems, and technology as a whole, can be used by businesses to create more efficient processes, more productive teams and more profitable operations, but the technology alone cannot deliver on those promises. When implementing a new ERP system, it’s tempting to take existing processes and try to replicate them. This approach neglects the transformation that is required in company culture and core processes to fully utilise and optimise the investment.
The resilience we’ve seen from our customers at OGL Software can be attributed to the hardworking and dedicated team members who have taken on extra responsibilities, have thought on their feet and have remained positive to change. This is why the outlook for ERP in 2021 and beyond relies on the expertise, commitment and success of the teams using them. In 2021 we’ll see those businesses who are thriving have invested in their people to ensure they are experts in the use of their ERP solutions, have the right tools and technology to effectively do their role, are motivated to succeed and are well informed of business aims so that everyone is working as a team towards a common goal.
Joseph Cox, Business Development Manager at sales-i discusses the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the brands distribution business with Torque Magazine…
Much has been made of the damaging impact of the pandemic on the distribution sector, but with a workable vaccine on the immediate horizon and a published route out of lockdown now on the table, businesses are increasingly looking towards the future.
One of the few positive effects of the crisis on distributors has been an increasing willingness to embrace technology solutions to help streamline their operations, maximise productivity and ultimately, do better business.
With competition and price sensitivity in the market still high and margins ever tight on tooling and fastener transactions, operators are looking for any advantage to give them the edge, and sales enablement technology is coming increasingly to the fore as a simple yet powerful means of forging stronger customer relationships.
A data driven sales strategy can be highly effective for distribution businesses, given the huge amounts of customer information they hold. Data holds the key to unlocking improved performance and customer understanding in so many ways, but historically too many businesses have struggled with effective data capture and have been unable to use it strategically to inform better business practice.
Thankfully, this is changing, particularly among smaller players, who typically often rely on a handful of customers to fill their order books and for whom customer relationships are paramount.
Sales enablement software platforms like sales-i give organisations full visibility of their customer relationships on a comprehensive range of metrics, making it possible to spot trends and identify opportunities to cross and upsell. The benefits are compelling - typically, we find that the average distribution business using the software can expect to enjoy an increase in total sales volume of as much as 20% or more, alongside increases in average invoice value and the number of spending customers.
Fundamentally, our distribution customers tell us being better informed about their own customer behaviours enables them to make better decisions about their overall sales strategies and move from reactive customer relationship management to more proactive sales.
Of course, the Covid crisis is far from over and the New Year is seemingly characterised by continued uncertainty, especially against the backdrop of Britain’s exit from the EU. With continued fluctuations in supply and demand dynamics on the cards, sales teams across the distribution space will be looking for any advantage they can get to better understand their customers’ evolving needs and, ultimately, retain their business for the longer term.
Joseph Cox, Business Development Manager, sales-i
Powered Now, a mobile-based billing, invoicing and quotation application for trade businesses such as plumbers and electricians, has won a major grant from the government's innovation agency, Innovate UK.
Powered Now is dedicated to streamlining the communication process between small trade businesses and their customers, providing them with a safe place to store their vital documentation. This grant will enable Powered Now to develop features to help these micro-SMEs to compete more effectively and efficiently with larger corporations and companies who tend to have far more complex and expensive IT systems.
The domestic market, which suffered greatly during both the spring and winter lockdowns, is now calling for an evolution in their communication processes- one that is designed to help businesses efficiently adapt to a Covid-19 landscape.
The Powered Now app features:
Easy quoting and invoicing
Invoices and quotes can be raised from anywhere on smartphones, tablets or the web. Matt Walsh, owner of ARP Heating and Plumbing, uses Powered Now and says: “If it wasn’t for Powered Now I would have been divorced by now”. In a 2020 survey, business owners using Powered Now reported that on average they saved around half a day a week of time previously spent on paperwork.
Organise their teams
The owner of the business can know where their team is, at any time. Team chat helps co-ordinate work and a shared diary keeps appointments organised.
Everything in one place
With Powered Now, one app enables all of the business’ administration to be done in a single place. Invoices, quotes, job sheets, purchase orders and costs can all be raised and recorded. Gas and electrical certificates and many other statutory UK requirements can be met. Customer details are held along with details of appointments and time logs.
Customer details, notes, invoices, quotes, payments and appointments are all stored securely. If any device is lost, broken or stolen all the information can be recovered.
NiceLabel, a leading global developer of label design software and label management systems, has launched a new version of its label management solutions portfolio: version, 2019.3. The new software update will enable organisations to use just a single platform for designing and printing labels, thereby saving them time and costs and streamlining their whole production process.
The NiceLabel software previously offered out-of-the-box label design, allowing business users to quickly and easily design and print labels. The new version builds on this capability, enabling users, especially those working in factories or warehouses, to seamlessly design and print related supply chain documents, including delivery notes, pick lists, packing slips and invoices, from a single platform.
The 2019.3 release of the NiceLabel software also features a connector to cloud-based software from Workday. This is an example of a cloud-to-cloud integration that also supports cloud connected printers (IoT printing). Businesses that adopt this functionality can print driverless, completely eliminate their on-premise labelling footprint and save costs as a result. Their existing Workday process remains the same, but they gain the benefits of streamlined label printing through NiceLabel Label Cloud.
The release also includes enhancements to NiceLabel’s SAP advanced business application programming (ABAP) package including the ability to print supply chain documents more easily; and exporting data sources for streamlined design.
The new 2019.3 release additionally features a web-based manager for the NiceLabel integration system that allows users to centrally manage all integrations.
In parallel with the 2019.3 launch, NiceLabel is also introducing a brand-new edition of Label Cloud. Label Cloud Compliance is vertically aimed at regulated companies including medical device manufacturers, pharmaceuticals businesses and chemicals companies which require a compliant labelling process to meet evolving US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Union (EU) regulatory requirements.