How Can Distributors Combat Labor Shortages?

ERP Distribution Labor Shortage

ERP Software Addresses Labor Concerns 

In one of our recent posts about distribution challenges, we highlighted increasing shortages in skilled labor. A 2018 survey found that the labor crunch was the number one concern for distribution centers (DC) and warehouses. As 10,000 Baby Boomerreach retirement age each day, distributors are struggling to find employees to fill the gaps. To make matters worse, distributors must handle the pressures of growing customer demands as their workforce shrinks.  

It’s not easy to be a DC in this current climate, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to combat labor shortages and keep operations running smoothly. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software includes the capabilities to tackle both the causes and consequences of the labor crunch. We’ll take you through some of the ERP features that can help your distribution company address labor concerns.  

Process Automation  

There’s no room for unnecessary manual tasks in today’s fast-paced marketplace. Your strained workforce won’t be able to keep up with growing customer demands if it’s stuck manually entering data, picking and packing orders and counting inventory. During periods of business growth or seasonal spikes, you might be forced to hire part-time workers or add overnight shifts to fulfill orders. With all this pressure on distribution workforces, it’s no wonder employees are leaving warehouses. Manual, repetitive processes are consuming too much time, resulting in costly errors and hurting your ability to satisfy customers.  

One of the most important roles of an ERP system is to automate redundant tasks and data entry. ERP automates and streamlines everything from tracking serial numbers to processing warranty claims. Instead of entering data across multiple applications, your solution will provide automatically updated data accessible to everyone from the top floor to the shop floor. Instead of picking and moving everything in the warehouse or keying transactions into several spreadsheets, your employees can take on specialized roles, such as monitoring the software or managing products with distinct handling requirements.  

With ERP automating the most tedious tasks, employees can enjoy a safe and productive work environment. Your business can also meet high customer demands and increase accuracy without putting more strain on your workers. 

eCommerce Integration 

The push to implement an eCommerce store is adding even more pressure to distribution operations. A well-designed online store is becoming a critical driver for distribution success, but creating a new channel means more work. DCs must find some way to add more to their employees’ plates to meet online consumer demands without taking time away from other responsibilities.  

An eCommerce solution fully integrated with your ERP system will simplify website development and streamline activities, so you can satisfy modern customers without requiring several new hires or increasing overtime work. Epicor Commerce Connect (ECC) is an eCommerce platform that is tightly integrated with your Epicor ERP or Prophet 21 solution. ECC includes comprehensive user-friendly tools to help you quickly launch an enticing online store.  

Because ECC is connected with your ERP system, you won’t have to worry about duplicate data entries or information silos. Online transactions are immediately transferred to your ERP platform, so you can instantly work on fulfilling orders. Website managers have access to real-time stocking information to avoid overselling products online. Maintaining eCommerce and ERP data in a single place enables users to maintain precision and efficiency without drastically increasing your employee head count.  

Performance Metrics 

You can’t keep your distribution operations running at maximum productivity if you can’t track performance or locate issues. ERP software delivers real-time data and analytics to show you exactly where you’re falling short, so you can allocate employees and resources appropriately. With this wealth of information, you can uncover methods to shorten order cycles and reduce errors without hiring new employees. 

Prophet 21 is an ERP solution with robust reporting tools and intuitive dashboards to improve decision making. Sophisticated built-in BI tools will unveil the trends and problems you need to know to cut costs and refine workflows. For example, you can receive alerts on inventory changes across multiple branches, so you can make better purchasing decisions and determine how to reduce stock levels. Additionally, accurate forecasts will help you schedule jobs and transportation to prepare for future orders. All these insights are available on role-based, personalized dashboards to give each user pertinent information at their fingertips.  

Modern Work Environment 

With Baby Boomers exiting warehouses in droves, it’s time to usher in millennials, but this has been slow going. Younger generations have different expectations for their work environments. They crave greater flexibility, collaboration and innovation at the workplace, and they’re quick to leave if technology is cumbersome.  

ERP can help distributors modernize their culture to entice and retain millennials. Mobile capabilities give users access to data on cell phones, tablets and other devices, so they can enjoy more flexible schedules. ERP software provides data and intuitive dashboards to create a modern, user-friendly experience that’s attractive to younger employees. Plus, social collaboration platforms such as Epicor Social Enterprise facilitate communication across departments and notify users of important updates in operations through an interactive stream of real-time information. ERP consists of the key ingredients for developing a modern work environment, so you can attract and retain a new generation of distribution talent.  

Wrap Up  

Labor shortage is a crisis across warehouses and DCs. Without a sophisticated ERP solution, your company doesn’t stand a chance at combating this issue and meeting customer demands. Prophet 21, Epicor’s premier ERP solution for warehouse distribution, includes the tools necessary to tackle the labor crunch. By streamlining operations and providing critical metrics and eCommerce functionality, Prophet 21 creates a modern workplace that can attack any distribution challenge.  

At Datix, our certified consultants will help you implement your ERP solution to address your pain points. We’re an Epicor Gold Partner with over 20 years of experience in offering premier software solutions and services for distributors and manufacturersFrom start to finish, we’ll work with you to ensure you have the robust ERP system you need to elevate your enterprise. 

Start transforming your distribution business through software. Reach out to Datix today to learn more about Prophet 21!  


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