Every entrepreneur understands the value of streamlining daily tasks.
Whether it’s depending on a VoIP that provides virtual assistant services for incoming communication, or fine-tuning your inventory and fulfillment solutions, using technology to improve operations is the key to small business growth. Ultimately, it is the key to a large majority of success a company can hope to achieve in the future.
All of this streamlining and reduction of steps involved is the power of automation. It's a solution that empowers small businesses to process tasks quicker, expedite orders more efficiently and improve customer service across the board. And experts say that it is a market that is likely going to double by 2025... That alone should tell you all you need to know!
A major misconception with modern supply chain operations is that you’ve got to have a large-scale business to benefit from automation in logistics. That’s couldn’t be further from the truth. Automation tech is, more often than not, built on platforms that are scalable, often cloud-based, and have the ability to touch all parts of your fulfillment and customer engagement tasks.
Automation is the key to empowering small businesses in today’s competitive logistics arena. The first major hurdle is simply knowing how to get it all set up and running.
Luckily, there is somewhat of a proven process that helps smaller business owners and start-ups improve their automation upgrade success...
It’s All About Strategy
Before you head out to upgrade your automation tech solutions, it’s important to first develop a strong and smart strategy. The key attribute to integrating automation into your supply chain operations is to fine-tune areas of inefficiency – or optimize areas of concern. As such, it’s critical to create a strategy that helps you address these two areas.
Here are a few specific tips:
Are there areas where your business is deficient? Automation can help you fill gaps in your operation. Whether it’s contacting customers throughout the order fulfillment process, or connecting with suppliers and carriers, if you know where your business is lacking, you can create a smart automation strategy.
Is automation tech scalable? A smart business owner realizes that spending money makes sense when you don’t have to duplicate the investment as the business grows. This is where scalability with automated solutions is a critical attribute. Make sure any automated platform is built to grow with your business.
Are there areas of strength? Finally, are there parts of your business where you’re strong – but could dominate? This is another area where automation can assist – especially if the solution helps create better relationships with customers. When today’s customers are assisted with service that is far and above the competition, such as receiving automated shipping updates, you can move past others in your industry, and reap the benefits.
Your strategy should likewise factor in realistic business considerations such as the cost of the platform, expenses needed for training, and whether it will impact your daily operations while you learn and train others in your business.
Collaborate and Cross Train
Most automated solutions can be configured to take over manual tasks – as that’s the point – right? While that’s true, there are times when you’ll need to upgrade or fine-tune these solutions quickly, especially if errors exist. This is where involving your team in the education and training of the new solutions can reduce integration issues.
Consider cross-training or collaborating with your team to ensure they understand the concept behind the automated solution, make adjustments (if you’re not available to do so), and connect with solutions providers to deal with technical glitches. This also helps to avoid downtime when and if issues occur.
Take Your Time – Complete Due Diligence
It’s tempting to accelerate full throttle when you see a new toy that can help you improve small business functions. But as the old saying goes – slow and steady wins the race. Anytime you’re considering an upgrade to an automated solution, do your due diligence to learn about the tool. What are the Pros and Cons of this solution? Are there issues to consider that you can avoid by learning from others' experiences?
And last but not least, are there better options that might cost a few extra dollars, but will pay dividends in the long-term?
Arguably, one of the best resources for small businesses – especially those in logistics or supply chain operations is a 3PL or third-party logistics company – like Redwood Logistics. A company that works with small and large corporations and is always at the forefront of new automated technology and solutions can help anyone discover the advantages and disadvantages of automated solutions.
If you’re looking to improve your supply chain operations through automation, you need to reach out to supply chain experts...