Wholesale firms need to address growing pains

The right tools in the right place as optimism in the sector rises

With businesses returning their attention to growth as the economic climate becomes brighter, they will need the right tools in place to cope with the strains caused by expansion, according to a new report. Access Group’s whitepaper ‘Easing the Growing Pains: Resolving the Challenges of Expansion with Technology’ examines the problems commonly encountered and the solutions available to organisations.

Ian Roper, divisional director for supply chain solutions for Access Group comments: “The dark clouds of the credit crunch may still be fresh in the memory for some but with the economic outlook becoming brighter companies are once again turning their attention to growth.

“There is also an increased sense that there are reasons to be optimistic in the wholesale sector with the trend of consumers buying ‘little and often’ generating more demand for convenience shopping. Shifting customer preferences, such as a desire for local provenance, are also creating further opportunities to expand the product range.”

In an increasingly digitised world much of this demand is also coming from online channels – with wholesale companies reporting double digit growth from this revenue stream. A rapid increase in turnover can, however, create headaches for companies that have not put systems in place in order to cope with an expansion of business. In addition, a lack of visibility of business information can result in the organisation being slow to react to changes in the market.

“I often hear management complain they are making decisions based on retrospective data. It can take 10 to 15 days to close the books and when they are making decisions the information can be almost a month old,” said Andy Brown, KPMG lead management consultant for IT in the North of England and Scotland. “When we are talking about wholesale businesses, especially those operating online, they need to have this information on a daily basis. They need to react to changes in demand with speed.”

Dr Thanos Papadopoulos, associate professor and senior lecturer in information systems at Sussex Business School, claims that enterprise systems that provide ‘one version of the truth’ allow businesses to provide a better overall customer service – and prevent departments from operating with blinkered focus on their own functions.

Ian commented: “If companies hope to avoid potential growing pains, and drive greater profits from increased turnovers, they will need tools which allow them to take advantage of potential economies of scale. With margins tight in the wholesale sector, expanding businesses will need to be better at finding efficiencies, identifying fast moving product lines and ensuring customer service operates as smoothly as possible.”

For a copy of the whitepaper contact natalie.smith@theaccessgroup.com

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