7 Truths About Electronic Communication in the Promotional Products Industry
The most successful efforts have limited the up-front expense and delivered value to firms of all sizes. Recent successes (see the first three bullet points above) were shared openly at the PPAI Technology Summit in Atlantic City, and event attendees continue to collaborate via online groups (for IT staff only) further driving improvements in efficiency. All attendees agree that the primary keys to success include ensuring priorities are aligned and that up-front investments must be minimal.
In the meantime, there is something very basic and essential that all distributors should do that requires no technological expertise at all. Distributors must provide an accurate purchase order to suppliers when placing orders (technology can make this easier but is not required).
In case you haven't heard, as many as 70 percent of all orders placed by distributors have some missing or inaccurate information. Sending an incorrect purchase order electronically only exacerbates the problems. In fact, most suppliers who receive "EDI" type orders from distributors today still manually enter the order into their system. Manual entry allows the supplier to correct the errors before processing which often involves a call to the distributor to get the missing information.
For suppliers, the most basic and essential thing you can do is make it very easy to provide the appropriate information. Provide your product data in a very easy to "consume" format so distributors can leverage this when placing the order to generate an accurate purchase order.
Unfortunately, significant money continues to be wasted on technology efforts that do not result in the desired outcome. This is not the fault of technology; it is the fault of leadership. As a leader of your company or as a leader in the industry, it is your role to ensure efforts (technological or not) are focused where the results will deliver value. Collaboration across a large group of suppliers and distributors is critical to achieving success when it comes to solving the industry electronic communication challenge.