Using cloud-based technology for material procurement is nothing new in the industrial machinery industry. Manufacturers have been purchasing indirect materials such as office supplies online for years. It’s fast, easy and scalable. Yet a few cutting-edge companies have found a new application for cloud-based procurement – using it to purchase direct materials, as well. Although this idea may not seem revolutionary on the surface, the resulting benefits could make the difference between business success and failure. 

The manufacturing world continues to become more competitive. To stay in business, companies are aggressively examining their existing processes and systems in the hopes of uncovering opportunities to increase output without raising costs or negatively impacting performance. Leveraging cloud-based technology for direct material procurement is one answer some have found for lowering cost of goods sold (COGS) without affecting quality. 

In his poem “If,” Rudyard Kipling provides advice to a young man coming of age that remains relevant to the modern business leader today.  

“ … Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”; he wrote, “[and] trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting … ”

This advice is especially relevant for executives in the fast-paced wholesale/distribution industry when a workplace accident is involved. The ability to remain calm, keep a clear head and confidently handle the initial phases of a crisis is the key to mitigating loss and reducing liabilities. 

As business-to-consumer companies continue to make customer satisfaction their top priority, their business-to-business suppliers are following suit. Increasingly sensitized to the need to keep their business customers happy, as well as help their business partners meet consumer demands, suppliers are focusing on becoming demand-driven businesses. That’s according to IDC Insight’s 2014 Supply Chain Survey, which polled retailers and manufacturers on their supply chain practices. The survey found that customer centricity was the second highest priority for both manufacturers and retail suppliers, beat out only by cost reduction, a perennial favorite. 

Cold calling isn’t what it used to be. But don’t let anyone tell you that cold calling is dead. It has simply morphed into what I call “gold calling.” This process has proven to raise lead rates three times over for all sizes and types of companies.

The way most manufacturers generate leads now is a world away from the way they did it even a few years ago. It’s obvious to most companies that making blind cold calls to drum up significant business is a thing of the past. Instead, businesses use inbound marketing methods to get customers to come to them. If they are making an outbound effort, they use tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to quickly research and mine for possible leads. So why are so many lead rates stagnating or even plummeting? 

Conducting business on a global scale is challenging enough, but having to deal with a slew of third-party vendors that provide different supply chain, transportation, customs brokerage and warehouse services adds a whole other layer of complexity to the equation. So it’s no surprise that companies involved in global trade are looking to outsource those managed services in order to interact with fewer vendors.

With a growing number of large enterprises having sourcing and manufacturing capabilities throughout the world, supply chains have become intricate and complex. Raw materials flow across borders to manufacturing plants scattered around the globe; are then forwarded on further in the supply chain where they’re made into finished products; then, advanced to the packaging phase; and then sent out to various distribution center stops before finding their way to a retailer’s shelf or directly to a consumer’s door.

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