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Prioritize Analytics to Enhance Customer Service

Analytics tools not only help distributors become more agile, but in this time of increasingly complex supply chains, they can also alleviate stock-outs — and ease customers’ minds. But don’t forget the key components of building this capability.
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With supply chains growing increasingly complex ever since COVID-19 began ravaging the economy earlier this year, it feels as though the world is no longer flat.

One result of the coronavirus crisis: Manufacturer stock-outs have become a norm — especially for certain types of products, including JanSan and safety — meaning B2B customers have been extremely frustrated with their distributor partners.

But analytics tools can help distributors alleviate those frustrations and again become the hero for their customers, according to Taylor Clements, director of implementation services at Enavate. Clements spoke with MDM CEO Tom Gale in a recent MDM Spotlight, “Distribution Analytics Moves Front & Center.”

In this 10-minute video, Gale and Clements discussed the myriad ways that analytics is helping distributors not only cope with the current pandemic but also navigate other business disruptions that could emerge.

“Supply chain interruption such as stock-outs caused by manufacturing issues, delivery problems or planning have become even more commonplace in this time,” Clements said. “And many software systems commonly offer those customers a different product if they order items that are out of stock, or a cheaper product with the same functionalities available. We found the distributors who consider substitutions find improved customer satisfaction, margins and inventory management.”

The Key to Successful Analytics Adoption

Analytics can serve as a foundational capability to build a more agile distribution organization, as MDM outlined in our 2015 book, The Distributor’s Guide to Analytics. The guide is a collection of some of the best practices from thought leaders across every aspect of distribution analytics: inventory management, pricing, profitability, sales and marketing.

“With the explosion in just the past few years of cloud computing, apps and business intelligence tools, distributors really have a much better opportunity today to capture and process that data to really pull out of their ERP system the transactional data, e-commerce and other technology platforms to manage increasingly complex data inputs and extract insights in a much more agile manner,” Gale said during the Spotlight.

But a key, and often overlooked, component of that process is getting the right talent on board. Having the right employees who understand the capabilities — and limitations — of an analytics platform is key to properly using this powerful tool and creating competitive advantage.

“There ultimately is no magic technology or app that’s going to elevate your analytics capability in itself,” Gale said. “It’s really that combination of the technology tools that are right for the unique needs that you have and the talent on your team. That’s going to be a big issue in the next 12 to 24 months as well in terms of the types of analytics capability that individual companies are able to tap into. Because no business becomes a data-driven organization overnight and without leadership driving it. It’s a really about a roadmap, prioritizing the parts of the business analytics that are really going to get you forward as fast as possible and then ultimately the project plan for how you build the talent and the leadership to get there.”

To listen to the MDM Spotlight in its entirety, click here.

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