It’s hard not to notice that the world is changing rapidly these days, especially where technology is concerned. Drones, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and more are all improving at a breakneck pace, and the evolution of technology means that your business must also evolve. The last thing you as a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer want is to be left behind by disruptive technology, or worse, be outpaced by a competitor who was not fazed by these exciting new changes. As always, the best strategy is to be planning ahead and preparing your next move. Here are three key areas to focus on as you concentrate on keeping your company competitive in today’s fast-moving market.
1. EDI prominence in a market driven by consumers.
Consumers these days know what they want, and they know when they want it - now. They are smart, savvy shoppers who know how to find a better deal elsewhere if they’re not satisfied with the price, shipping speed, or other considerations. A good forward-thinking business needs to be anticipating what their customers will be expecting as technology advances. This philosophy applies not only to B2C (business to consumer) companies, but increasingly to B2B (business to business) companies as well. The “customer is king” attitude only grows more prevalent as customers learn how to use technology to find the exact product they’re looking for, at the price they want it, from a company who lines up with their values and expectations. An existing technology that will no doubt become a big player in the near future is EDI (electronic data interchange), which allows companies to exchange standardized digital business documents. EDI plays a huge role in improving a company’s speed and efficiency when dealing with customers, and if there are two things we all know customers love, it’s speed and efficiency. Putting off adopting EDI is already a risky strategy, and it will only grow riskier as time goes on.
2. Retail making more and more use of RFID technology.
Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is barcoding taken to the next level. The technology itself isn’t new, but it’s beginning to pick up speed as a preferred method of tracking inventory. Essentially, RFID uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track anything with an RFID tag attached to it. Unlike a barcode, though, an RFID tag does not need to be located and scanned at close range. An RFID scanner can detect these tiny, easy-to-track RFID tags from several feet away. As you can probably imagine, RFID technology has the potential to greatly reduce inaccuracies in the warehouse, as well as make cycle counts and inventory tracking much, much easier. RFID tags have the potential to make the “no check out” shopping experience a reality. With RFID scanners installed at the doors, customers could select their items and be charged when they exit the store. No need to wait in line or scan anything manually.Retail Systems Research estimates that the use of RFID technology will soon become much more commonplace, and the Radio Identification (RAIN) Alliance predicts that by 2020 there will be nearly 20 billion RFID scanners in place to read the 100 billion RFID tags actively in use. Better keep a close eye on this one.
3. Creepy tech is about to get creepier (but in a good way)
We all know that robots are showing up in ever greater numbers in more and more warehouses, but did you know that just this past holiday season Walmart deployed two-foot tall robots equipped with cameras to patrol the aisles and monitor for low stock or missing, misplaced, mislabeled, or mispriced items?Amazon already uses a large number of robots to man the ecommerce giant’s many warehouses, but this year they increased their numbers yet again. The robots work in tandem with humans to take care of the monotonous tasks that those very same humans used to have to do. The robots make working in a warehouse less physically taxing and improve Amazon’s efficiency, allowing them to fulfill and deliver orders to customers in just one or two days.It’s not just the big moving robots who are changing the way inventory is handled, though. More and more “smart” devices and appliances are finding their way into customer’s lives. Such devices, such as the Amazon Echo, take advantage of the internet of things (IoT) to give customers more ways to purchase any number of goods, sometimes without the customer having to even physically touch the device. It’s not hard to imagine how this technology will continue to improve and even seep into the supply chain to further improve efficiency there. In fact, some retailers already are utilizing IoT technology. Voice-based shopping through smart devices also puts the onus on the product descriptions and pages. You can’t sell what Alexa can’t find.
Ready to adopt some new tech?
Your business might not be ready for a fleet of robotic packers in your warehouse, but it’s never too early to start planning ahead, where emerging technology is concerned. Take a good look at your business operations and determine where there might be room for improvement, and whether or not new technology can help. If you’re wondering whether your business is at the point where it’s time to implement an EDI solution, take a look at our “5 Signs You Should Invest in EDI” blog outlining some of the headaches typically associated with a need for improvement via EDI. If you already have an EDI solution but haven’t integrated certain key documents, review our “5 must-Have EDI Documents to Integrate” blog. Follow up with SPS Commerce’s EDI 101 page, as well as their list of EDI documents and transactions.Even if you’re not ready for something as involving as EDI implementation, there are many other less involved technological improvements you might be in the market for, such as automated workflows or better order processing software. The important thing is to be aware of emerging technologies and to do what you’re able to keep your business competitive in this tech-saturated market.Visit our site for more information on SalesPad Desktop for GP.
by SalesPad, www.salespad.com
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