Contemporary research suggests that as much as 60% of product lead times is spent navigating through the company office. For wholesalers, the organization of accompanying documentation can be a real headache. So what to do to lessen the pain?

Protect your margins
Shipping your products to your customers may be the last link in the chain, but if it’s not handled efficiently, it can take a real bite out of your margin. Think about how much time your shipping department spends dealing with administration to get an order out the door. Export papers, packing slips, bills of lading, packaging labels, driver documentation. They all take time and energy to compile and produce by hand.

The office can also be lean
While your people are busy with activities like these, your processes are open to error – and errors mean late or missed deliveries that can threaten customer relationships. Furthermore, if we apply the principles of lean operations to the office, these activities often add little or no customer value. Should we really be using up resource time on completing them?

Minimize manual activities
ERP systems can automate many of the processes around the generation of this documentation, slashing time and expense from your operational activities. With account and order information integrated, sales orders can automatically trigger the generation and printing of the necessary paperwork. Again, you’re working in a closed loop system, the information complete and consistent and the opportunity for error practically eradicated. Cycle times for processing shipments are slashed, freeing up personnel for more value adding activities and significantly improving customer service through boosted speed and accuracy.

Be pro-active with your couriers
B2B communications integration can facilitate efficient, accurate interaction with your shipping partners. Using the ERP customer and supplier data, the automatic printing of documentation can be followed up with an electronic message to the carrier notifying them what is ready for dispatch and where it’s going. You make life for your shippers easier, speeding up the processes involved and eradicating the possibility that arrangements are forgotten or not made in time. In addition to boosting your accuracy and reliability, many couriers now run real time tracking to keep the recipient fully up to date at all times. All the these factors combine to create increased customer satisfaction.