Are your shipping operations more like throwing darts in the dark than streamlined processes that leave orders fulfilled and customers happy? Many manufacturing and distribution companies find themselves in a last minute scramble to move materials, shuffling through paper and jamming phone lines in order to initiate and track shipments. Improving your shipping operations doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive — in fact, it can be as simple as tapping into the data already right at your fingertips.
Get visibility across the board.
Success in your shipping operations requires a broad scope of visibility into your data. It’s important to start with the basics and ensure you’re doing your homework when it comes to shipping specs. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Packaging requirements may be fixed or optional. For example, product warranties or government regulations may require specific packaging and handling instructions. Certain customers also may specify premium packaging of their purchased goods.
It’s not uncommon for customers to request specific delivery terms. Possible considerations include designated unloading locations or a specified range of delivery time.
Accounting data, such as invoicing and payment information, affects shipping operations more than you may realize. When accounting information is inconsistent, the entire operation is interrupted. Smooth shipping operations start with accurate sales order and accounting data.
Working off of spreadsheets to organize this data? Manually processing information for your shipping operations leaves room for human error and eats up time that could be better spent completing other tasks. Consider implementing an Operational ERP that keeps track of things like packaging and delivery requirements for you, so that you can rest easy knowing you’re meeting customer needs accurately and efficiently.
Use tech to enhance customer experience.
Using the right technology, you can enhance the buyer experience while building customer trust by tracking shipments and providing updates throughout the shipping process.
Use of GPS, coupled with shipment location tracking software, can provide the customer with access to real-time updates of the shipment at any time. This not only helps the customer plan for shipment arrival, it also reduces the time spent on fielding customer requests for delivery updates. For example, the customer may receive alerts when the shipment departs the facility, at key points along the route, and at arrival. The customer can also receive alerts at various stages of production and preparation for shipping. Alternatively, you can simply configure the system to allow the customer to check the status of their order at any time. This can be particularly useful in situations where the customer provides third party oversight into any aspect of the production or logistics operations.
Integrate your systems.
Integrating your systems reduces the risk of input errors and increases consistency across the board. Time spent correcting errors or explaining inconsistencies can be cut in half simply by centralizing your data. An Operational ERP system can do things like adjust inventory automatically or trigger invoice generation upon digital signing of a material receipt. The entire process can be managed with no physical paper or the hassle that comes along with processing hard copies.
Emphasize data accuracy.
The importance of data accuracy can’t be stressed enough. Inaccurate data inevitably leads to inefficiencies in your shipping operations. Every entry point provides an opportunity for data entry errors, and duplicate data entries will only complicate your processes. A true Operational ERP will do the heavy lifting for you, reducing human error and equipping you with the data you need to make forward-thinking decisions in your shipping operations — decisions that lead to shipping success and returning customers.
This blog post was written in collaboration with Custom Information Services. Learn more about CIS at customis.com.