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From phones to drones,


consumer technology has changed dramatically in the last decade. Business technology is picking up considerable pace as well. In the last few years, the development of systems and tools to drive business efficiency and optimization is no longer just happening in a handful of industries – it’s happening in every industry. Distribution in particular is one of the primary industry adopters in leveraging technology for disruptive growth. Fifteen years ago, end-to- end operational platforms were


Technology here now –


are you leveraging these? SaaS (software as a service)


– Full, end-to-end business management platforms are more complete than even just five years ago, and are cost effective for small and medium-sized businesses. Cloud-based ERP (enterprise resource planning) platforms give you the ability to manage your entire business – from marketing and sales to operations and your supply chain – with 360-degree, real-time visibility from your desktop, iPad, or mobile device.


The technologies distributors should be considering now, and the ones to watch for the future.


reserved for the enterprise-sized business, costing millions of dollars and taking years to implement. That’s no longer the case. Market challengers and creative business leaders are finding ways to leverage the newest technology for visibility, efficiency, automation, growth, and an improved customer experience. As we at Velosio work with restaurant equipment distributors and suppliers to improve their operations, we’re constantly looking at the latest technology to see where we can apply significant optimization. Many unique developments are taking shape. Here’s a look at the technologies that have become common with market leaders, as well as what we see just around the corner.


The process of managing quotes from AutoQuotes, purchases, inventory, rebates, project installation services, and online sales is no longer a laborious process using disconnected systems and manual spreadsheets. Instead, you can now have your entire team on a single platform looking at the same data and leveraging automation. Modern, cloud-based ERP solutions simplify your systems infrastructure and illuminate your path toward growth and efficiency. RFID/NFC/barcode scanning – Inventory control is challenging and time consuming if done manually, especially when you have multiple locations and tens of thousands of SKUs. Knowing what you have on hand and being able to quickly


locate what you need to accurately fulfill an order is key to lowering operational costs and providing customers a positive experience. Wireless, handheld technology is now affordable and makes receiving, fulfillment, and cycle counting much faster and accurate. Plus, these handhelds tie right into your ERP system, allowing your team to receive items directly into inventory or fulfill open sales orders from the handheld device. Radio frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communications (NFC) are enabling more automation in warehouses for inventory management and on assembly lines for real-time tracking of assemblies. RFID and NFC “tags” are small, thin stickers with embedded electronics that can be applied to objects such as inventory. These tags can transmit data to a reader device; and, unlike barcodes, RFID doesn’t need a direct line of sight to the reading device. Certain types of RFID tags can be read from as far as 1,500 feet. NFC is being used in creative ways in marketing and operations. Further, the costs of using RFID and NFC have come down drastically during the last few years.


Digital display panels – I’ve been in numerous restaurant suppliers’ offices and seen many handwritten whiteboards of sales contests, financial results, and warehouse pick data (eg., tick marks of outdated data). I’ve even seen handwritten chalkboards in showrooms to promote weekly specials and overstock or outdated models. Having digital displays in your warehouse, back office, and showroom can greatly improve the


Summer 2020 57


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