Catering to consumer demand by bridging the supply gap is essential for growing a business. The lesser time taken to deliver the product to the customer, the higher is the competitive advantage. According to research, more than 25% of the shoppers would abandon their carts online if same-day delivery wasn’t available.
It’s no surprise that retailers worldwide are improving their distribution networks for providing same-day delivery. The same is the case with industrial hardware distributors. They are rapidly adopting same-day delivery, as it helps project managers save both time and money.
Online retailers are expected to reap the maximum benefits as same-day delivery of products improves their position against stationary retailers. Customers, too, derive more value from it due to higher convenience and lower pricing. Improving distribution channels is the key to boost any supply-chain network of hardware distribution.
What Is a Distribution Channel?
Distribution channels refer to the routes through which products are delivered to the customers from the inventory. Earlier, a typical distribution channel for hardware suppliers comprised manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and finally, customers. Several e-commerce stores have made direct-to-consumer sales available and are popular throughout the globe.
The key to optimizing the distribution channels for industrial hardware distributors involves offering more products to existing and potential customers and delivering those in the least possible time frame. Same-day shipping is now essential to stay competitive.
How to Increase the Efficiency of the Distribution Channel?
Judging by the current market scenario, increasing the efficiency of distribution channels is of paramount importance. Here’s what you can do.
1. Keep Track of Channel Dealers
This is the most crucial step toward making same-day delivery possible. Tracking the distribution channel and the players involved will provide you with detailed insight into the specific areas that need improvement.
A proper tracking mechanism on the channel dealers will also help you analyze where you need to put in more resources or diversify the existing ones to improve the overall distribution network.
2. Focus on Managing Inventory
A detailed analysis of your stock in different outlets and subsequent sales volume will provide you with average sales data. In turn, you will have an insight into the products that are selling and the ones that aren’t.
Additionally, this will provide you with a record of your marketing histories in all regions where you have a dedicated distribution network. This will give you a clear understanding of whether or not your marketing initiatives are uniform through all locations. Depending on this, you can either tweak the existing ones or come up with an entirely new campaign.
3. Optimize Your Warehouses
A messy warehouse often slows down the entire process of same-day delivery. Warehouse automation is the key to overcoming all warehouse and distribution challenges and ensuring same-day shipping of products.
Warehouse automation technology helps achieve greater efficiency with significantly lesser effort. The best thing about these technologies is that they are scalable and provide a higher ROI.
4. Deliver to Parcel Lockers
The boom of e-commerce and preference for convenience is paving the way for new delivery options. A parcel locker is a safe and convenient package delivery solution that is extensively contributing to enhancing the distribution network for retail and e-commerce stores. These are now gaining global popularity for delivering packages from online retailers. Best of all, there’s no need for you to worry about theft or your package getting misplaced.
A noteworthy advantage of parcel lockers is that they can be accessed 24 hours a day. Packages can be shipped and delivered to parcel lockers the same day and stored until you pick them up at your convenience. You will get a push notification, text message, and email containing a unique QR code and pin. You need to use the code and pin to receive your delivery.
5. Pick Channel Intermediaries with Care
The key to improving the efficiency of the distribution network is to improve the output of the channel intermediaries. They help deliver the product from manufacturers to end-users.
Channel intermediaries help improve the distribution channel by helping businesses establish market linkages and customer contacts. They either directly undertake the marketing and sales function or establish a buyer-seller relationship by serving as a bridge between the two.
To ensure same-day shipping, you must pick your channel intermediaries with care. They must provide you with the feasibility to sort and store supplies at locations within your target geography and close the gap between you and your customers.
6. Improve Supply Chain Management
The best way to improve the supply chain is to opt for a centralized system capable of overseeing the entire process. Customers will transact from various channels across businesses, making a distributed order management system essential. Hardware distributors globally are integrating centralized systems for taking their supply chain system to the next level.
The system will provide you with detailed insight into your inventory, orders, and shipments. This, in turn, will allow you to monitor the status of products from production to delivery.
7. Track Performance
A supply chain system provides all information about vendor activity, allowing you to track performance trends and alter resource allocations when needed. Continual tracking of performance will give you an idea about how your existing distribution system is performing and where you need to optimize for better efficiency. Without an efficient distribution system, there’s no way you can offer same-day deliveries to your customer.
Time to ship is one of the key performance indicators and should be tracked at all costs. This is the total time needed to ship an order once it’s placed. You must also not forget to track the total number of orders placed in a particular storage location for a given timeframe. This will give you an idea about the inventory turnover rate.
8. Integrate Multiple Channels into a Single Robust Platform
It’s essential for supply chains to be positioned at locations near the customers. Your inventories must also be adequately supplied to cater to their demands. An omnichannel supply chain strategy is rapidly helping improve the distribution system by synchronizing inventory, logistics, and distribution functions across all sales channels.
A report by Cognizant revealed that to excel customer’s rising expectations, businesses must adopt an omnichannel approach. You should, therefore, focus on integrating multiple warehouses and distribution centers that operate on a single robust platform to cater to customer demand.
Your business’s supply chain is essentially one of the most critical elements that affects your relationship with your customer. Its efficiency can have a lasting impact on your long-term success. With an appropriate strategy in place, you can build a distribution network with improved performance and efficiency. This will help you scale up your business operations and provide same-day shipping to your customers.
Author Bio: I am Randy Gonzales. I am the President of Elite Sales Inc, a rigging equipment and wire rope distribution company based in Miami, Tampa, Houston, and Dyer. I have more than 30 years of experience in the distribution and supply of industrial hardware industry.