October 06, 2022

How FSM Software Drives Excellence in Wholesale Distribution

  • General
ROI Series (9)

Serving as the middleman between product producers and their customers, wholesalers, and distributors play a vital role in the world’s economy. They purchase goods from producers in bulk or at reduced prices. Then they provide whatever logistics, expertise, and support is necessary to get those goods into the hands of retailers or other businesses. Supply chains quickly break down without wholesalers and distributors acting as intermediaries – unfortunately, we are starting to see that first hand. 

Lately, times have not been easy for wholesalers and distributors (or similar businesses like suppliers, brokers, dealers, or traders). The COVID-19 pandemic sent supply and demand into turmoil in ways that we are still sorting out, and it changed the future of the economy in ways we still can’t predict. But the problems started before the pandemic; ecommerce, which is always looking to eliminate the middleman, has steadily eroded the market for wholesalers. At the same time, startups are crowding into the industry, and legacy players are consolidating into stronger powers, putting new competitive pressures on everyone else. 

However, the outlook is not all doom and gloom. Wholesalers and distributors have reason to anticipate surging demand and sweeping new market opportunities. Adapting to the post-pandemic world will involve significant investments in everything from new sanitation equipment to re-imagined public spaces. Facilitating those changes as quickly as possible and amid ongoing supply chain issues will involve countless wholesalers and distributors. On a much larger and longer-term scale, the fast-emerging green economy will involve upgrades, improvements, and replacements for just about everything, most of which will run through wholesalers and distributors. Projections suggest 10% annual growth for the industry as the global valuation tops $65 billion by 2026. 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but how do wholesalers and distributors survive these turbulent times, keep pace with the competition, and position themselves to capture a bigger piece of a growing pie? With one simple addition: the right piece of field service management (FSM) software. 

FSM for Wholesale and Distribution – A Perfect Match

At all times and especially in lean, disruptive, or transformative times, success in wholesale and distribution comes down to precision and efficiency. Providers that can maximize their resource utilization, optimize their inventory levels, improve their predictive capabilities, and otherwise operate at peak performance are at a significant advantage. Not only are they more resilient to unpredictable events (like a pandemic) or prolonged downturns (like a recession). They are also better equipped to innovate, scale, and elevate the customer experience in ways the competition cannot. 

Of course, anyone involved in this industry knows how much it depends on coordinating the many moving parts correctly. Much of the experience and expertise that wholesalers and distributors bring to the table relates to managing things like inventory, logistics, scheduling, and technicians. The problem is that people still manage these tasks using paper-based processes, manual data entries, and disconnected systems. Wholesalers have the right smarts and skills, but many lack the right processes to apply that expertise effectively. There was no other option in the past – but that is not the case anymore. 

FSM software brings all the tools and data related to field service together on one platform shared by managers, schedulers, technicians, and anyone else who needs to be involved. FSM software provides tools to digitize, accelerate, and automate the core responsibilities facing wholesalers and distributors: inventory management, work order management, asset management, scheduling and dispatch, field mobility, and many more. Each of these activities improves with the right FSM software in place. More importantly, however, software integrates all of them so that wholesalers and distributors operate as one synchronized and transparent entity. Instead of spending massive time and resources getting everyone on the same page – and still dealing with underwhelming or inconsistent results – FSM software does most of that work automatically without missing a beat. 

FSM software benefits any company that sends technicians into the field, from plumbers to pool cleaners, but it is an even greater asset to wholesalers and distributors in particular, where profit margins depend on careful alignment of purchasing, scheduling, sales, and service delivery. There is little margin for error. Alternatively, aligning everything to work as one empowers wholesalers and distributors to lower costs, raise revenues, and transform what the bottom line looks like. Indeed, FSM software makes everyone better. For wholesalers and distributors, though, it unleashes their full potential in ways that are impossible without it. 

A Case Study – A Machinery Wholesaler Adopts FSM Software

Saying that FSM software improves just about everything wholesalers and distributors do is accurate but not very descriptive. So to get a sense of where and how this software drives operational excellence and unlocks new economic opportunities, consider how one company, an industrial machinery wholesaler based out of Australia, utilized FSM software to change the trajectory of the company. 

Before adopting FSM software, Headland Machinery used half a dozen on-premises applications with little to no integration, making it hard to manage operations across three warehouses and 25+ techs working throughout Australia and New Zealand. Lack of visibility and coordination resulted in inventory problems, errors and redundancies, and insufficient reporting. 

FSM software solved all that. Having a single view into all customers and each aspect of service delivery led to a significant reduction in administrative errors and inefficiencies. For the same reason, Headland Machinery developed powerful reporting capabilities to explore their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats like never before. And since the software extended into the field through a technician’s phone, tablet, or laptop, paperwork became a thing of the past. FSM software singlehandedly transformed Headland Machinery into a digitized, synthesized, and data-driven business. Best of all, it made those changes in ways that people preferred over what came before – everyone was eager to get on board. 

The impact of being fully integrated through FSM software became apparent in exciting and unexpected ways. For example, Headland Machinery saw a 98% reduction in lost stock and tools once the FSM software started tracking where each item was going. And with paperwork replaced by digital forms that require techs to take certain actions or enter certain information before proceeding, compliance violations dropped dramatically. Doing it the right way was the only way. The most important impact has been on the customer experience. An automated email system has improved communication and, with it, customer satisfaction. 

Easy and efficient to work with, Headland Machinery looks like exactly the kind of wholesaler people want to buy machinery from. Their value comes as much from service quality as industry expertise, giving them a leg up over competitors and helping to cement loyal, long-term relationships with customers.

Next Service – FSM Software + NetSuite

The core benefit of FSM software for wholesalers and distributors is the ability to integrate more people, tools, and data onto one platform, creating a single hub for everything. Therefore, one reliable way to evaluate and compare FSM offerings is by looking at the scope of the integrations and the quality of the tools involved. Applying that standard reveals that many vendors offer a minimal or incomplete toolkit. Or they go in the opposite direction: tools for everything that is not very good at anything. Logic suggests the strongest FSM software for wholesalers and distributors offers the biggest and best toolkit. That explains why Next Service caught on so quickly. 

Furthermore, Next Service runs on-platform with NetSuite, meaning the two solutions share the same databases and underlying architecture. So not only does Next Service offer a toolkit to manage service delivery, it combines that toolkit with the world-class business management tools in NetSuite, plus all the other robust tools available through the NetSuite ecosystem. Everything (not just everything in service delivery) runs on one seamless platform. 

We’ve written extensively about the benefits of running on-platform with NetSuite. But for wholesalers and distributors looking to gain more visibility, insight, coordination, and control over each piece of inventory they handle, having all parts of the company (customer-facing and back office) working together raises the bar for what is possible. Today’s biggest challenges become manageable, just as tomorrow’s biggest opportunities become attainable. 

Implementing Next Service is not about becoming software-driven. It is about transforming into the kind of company that suppliers, buyers, and technicians all want to work with. As wholesale and distribution increasingly run on tech, the strength of those solutions will determine the winners and the losers. So, while it is important to embrace FSM software sooner rather than later, choosing wisely could not be more important. 

Learn why wholesalers and distributors like Headland Machinery choose Next Service. Sign up for a demo with our team today!

October 06, 2022
  • General
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