OP MANUFACTURERS
By Steve Damerow

How do you differentiate your wholesale offerings when competitors have similar product lines trying to sell to the same B2B audience? In a decent economy that, however, has not been able to grow more than 3 percent GDP over the past 10-plus years, how do you generate above average sales increases that your CFO demands?

The answer is to be among the first to take advantage of the new technology and smartphones that appeal to the majority of America’s workforce.

OP DURABLEBy Tony Donofrio, Stephen Francis and Jim Shepherd

Imagine a water tank with two valves: one lets water out at the bottom, the other refills the tank from the top. If we let too much water in, the tank overflows; if we don’t keep up with the rate of consumption, we end up with too little (or none). Many organizations manage inventory by manually draining and refilling their “tank’” at will.

The problem with this is that they can only hope to hit the optimal level of inventory by accident. The result is stock-outs – the water in the tank goes to zero – or cash that is tied up in excess inventory. Like water in a tank becoming stagnant, inventory ages. Given enough time, the inventory becomes obsolete and that cash has gone down the drain.

FLEET LIABILITYHere are ways to reduce your fleet’s liability.

By Stephen Washkalavitch

In 2016, the U.S. commercial auto industry reported a combined underwriting ratio of 110.4 percent – a 15-year high according to a recently released Fitch Ratings report – and has also produced an underwriting loss for six consecutive years. With this consistent poor performance, it isn’t surprising that the industry has also seen the fastest-escalating insurance rates compared to all major commercial segments. Liability premiums grew by nearly six percent in the last year alone.

The notable hike in premiums is partly attributed to the increased frequency of claims. In 2016, Verisk Analytics reported that accident occurrences were at their highest level in decades, rising steeply throughout 2014 and 2015. Insurers are not only witnessing more claims, but also an uptick in claim severity. For instance, the cost of repairs has risen significantly over the last several years as a result of the types of automobiles on the road. Since the effects of the 2008 recession are lessening, people are beginning to purchase newer, more modern vehicles. These cars are often embedded with expensive technology like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist features. Accidents that damage this technology can be extremely costly to repair.

EFFICIENCYThere are many ways to automate your warehouses.

By Derek O'Carroll

Technology-driven automation often sparks images of "robots," especially in warehouse situations where thousands zip throughout a fulfillment center picking orders. Take Amazon for example; which has determined that adding an army of robots is the key to improving revenue and the customer experience by making their distribution centers (DCs) as efficient as possible.

For small to medium-sized businesses, the ability to compete with large brands deploying leading edge technology may seem unimaginable. The reality is that there are technology solutions that can make warehouse and distribution operations efficient across smaller businesses' entire operations. Improving efficiency enhances margins and drives bottom line impacts while allowing for successful omnichannel growth.

The results of using solutions that marry automation and technology for warehouse efficiency exist today. Some improve perfect order rates and lower costs and processing time by reducing human error and speeding up the picking process. Others streamline workflows and order processing by removing inefficient human intervention that focuses solely on checking order details and accuracy – actions technology can easily manage.

CAPITAL INVESTMENTS
Which warehouse management system is right for your digital order profile?

By Richard Barnes

In a recent column, I discussed how distribution centers are going to have to deal with a more diverse order profile in the new digital age.

Wholesale orders will be changing from pallet-size orders to case-size orders. Digital orders from the web will be more frequent with a smaller number of items and customers will ultimately be ordering only what they need. Previously, I examined the four major picking categories, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. This article will explore the features of warehouse management systems (WMS) so you can determine the correct WMS for your digital order profile.

OP MANUFACTURERS REPS 01By Sanford E. Watson

Manufacturers’ representatives often are sued by consumers. Some claims are related to advertising, while others may allege that a product itself is defective or unsafe. In the vast majority of these lawsuits, the manufacturer – not the representative – is the true target. Being sued may be inevitable depending upon the industry, but there are certain precautions manufacturers’ representatives can take to avoid or mitigate the impact of any lawsuit. In my practice defending manufacturers’ representatives, I have identified four common mistakes that can paint a target on the back of any unknowing manufacturer’s representative.

OP NONDURABLE 01By Tony Donofrio, Stephen Francis and Matt Saxton 

In a previous column, we described network optimization as a series of tradeoffs between responsiveness and efficiency. As we explained then, one of the main challenges for the typical supply chain professional is to balance the tradeoffs between speed and cost. In this column, we’ll look at a particular railroad’s efforts to strike that balance as market conditions shifted under its feet.

ECOMMERCE 01Wholesalers need to make the move to user-friendly e-commerce quickly.

By Justin Yopp

There is nothing more frustrating than barriers to spending your money. Let me explain. My wife and I are wrapping up a kitchen renovation project on our midcentury modern home. As anyone who has remodeled a period home and tried to match existing fixtures knows, finding replacements for 50-plus year old fixtures is taxing. So we were ecstatic when we found out that our original lights are still manufactured by the original manufacturer in Detroit, Mich.

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