Between the different stages of manufacturing and moving products off the shelf in retail locations, distributors play a key role in making sure merchandise flows efficiently and accurately.
Citing data from the National Association of Wholesale Distributors, Entrepreneur wrote trade in the wholesale sector rose 5.8 percent between 2011 and 2012. In dollar figures, the industry saw nearly $5 trillion in sales during that time. What's more, more than 5 percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product is attributable to wholesale trade, which is a strong signal of the reach and importance of this essential part of the global supply chain.
Being a Wholesale Distributor Demands a Strong Skill Set
However, not all organizations are equipped to perform their tasks equally well. Any wholesale distributor needs to understand the complexity and fast pace of this industry.
"Operating very efficiently and turning your inventory over quickly are the keys to making money," says Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting Inc.
Additionally, wholesale distributors need to have a thorough understanding of their customers and be able to serve their needs. They should be able to discern what price will be attractive to buyers while also sourcing products at the lowest possible cost and still maintaining high quality standards. Another key issue is keeping track of inventory at a high level of detail.
Because of the complicated nature of wholesale distribution, there are many errors that can creep into operations. License plating is one of the most effective solutions for managing acquisition and distribution channels.
Why License Plating Matters
A recent white paper from RFgen Software titled "Got a License Plate for that Pallet?" explained how critical pallet labeling is to keeping track of inventory. Distributors can group merchandise together and label them with a unique serial number.
Not all wholesale distributors have adopted license plating as a way to improve their workflows, and it will ultimately have a negative impact. Here are are four warning signs that a company should integrate pallet labeling:
- Your warehouse operations are too slow: If your warehouse is fully staffed but remains slow, you need efficiency gains to contain labor costs. Consider license plating to help avoid delays in receiving or a backup in shipments caused by slow picking. It speeds up operations by reducing manual data entry and requiring fewer scans to receive, put away and pick.
- You are seeing too many inventory errors: Mistakes in inventory management are usually caused by human error—someone skipped a step, misunderstood the process, or made a data entry error. Barcode scanning items and license plating containers can both help to minimize operator error
- You can't comply with some of your customers' labeling requests: License plates, or pallet labels, don't just make life easier for your employees—they also significantly improve the receiving process for your customers. Many of the largest retailers insist on it.
- You are worried about lot tracking and food traceability: Has your company experienced difficulties with a recall? If you have concerns about traceability, license plating can make capturing critical tracking information easier and more efficient.