The news is full of worrying, dystopian tales of technology and automation taking over the world – AI is coming for your job, humans being replaced by machines. And while yes, it’s true, technology does have the ability to do much of what humans can do, we’re here to remind you that, when it’s used well, that can actually be a Very Good Thing.
Think for a moment about how you spend your days. Which are the really good days, and which ones just plain suck? Chances are, the ones where you feel you’ve done good things are not the days where you’re stuck to your desk churning out reports, chasing up invoice payments or manually entering stock numbers onto the system.
The beauty of being human is that we have the power of choice. We can choose which bits of business we allow technology to help us with, and we can continue doing the bits we’re best at – building relationships, using our experience and judgement to make decisions, strategizing about where to go next and how to get there – that sort of thing. So by using technology as a tool, we can be more efficient in our workflow and more productive as a business, freeing up staff time to add real, human value. People, as they say, do business with people. Tech doesn’t have to replace us – it should be helping us instead.
Where technology can add enormous amounts of value, and save enormous amounts of time, is in the laborious, repetitive tasks that typically consume much of our working day. It can also be hugely beneficial in processing data, identifying trends, flagging up issues and preventing mistakes thanks to pre-set functions like credit limits and margin protection.
- With a fully integrated trading system that keeps track of every quote, purchase order, dispatch and delivery note, automated invoicing by email becomes pretty straightforward, and saves your finance team a great deal of time and effort. Invoices not paid by the due date can be chased up automatically too, leaving your team free to work on the trickier stuff instead.
- Trading teams want the freedom to be able to make decisions, and business managers want to make sure the business remains profitable. Built-in credit control lets every account manager know the exact level of each customer’s credit so they’re safe to make a call on orders, while margin protection means your sales team can adjust the numbers to take advantage of an opportunity without ever compromising the profitability of the business.
- Reports and analysis. Being able to run the numbers easily and intuitively can save loads of time. Whether you’re looking at trading figures or customer trends, having automated reports ready to go, and having a system that can help you sort through the numbers simply, will be worth its digital weight in gold.
- Stock management. This is a huge one for merchant businesses and is an area that tech can really add a lot of value. No more duplicating manual stock sheets to add them to the system, no more need to adjust stock levels every time an order is dispatched or received. A fully integrated digital system allows instant access to the most up to date stock figures meaning your whole team can see at a glance exactly what’s where, meaning you can offer better availability and service to your own customers.
- Customer notes and order history. With a fully integrated trading system, every quote, estimate and adjustment is tracked, so no matter who is off on holiday or on the road seeing customers, anyone in the business can log-in (from anywhere, at any time) to see exactly what’s been agreed, and the status of orders past, current and proposed. You can also set up reminders via email for repeat orders, send status updates for dispatches and deliveries and as mentioned, send invoices. It allows you to take the time-consuming work out of a personalised customer experience, so everyone wins – better service for your customers, without weighing your own staff down in repetitive admin.
- Coming up to holiday season (whether Christmas, Easter or summer) it can be a difficult juggling act keeping business running smoothly with staff being off. But when you have the ability to schedule emails, automate reminders and cover other people’s work more easily, that stress becomes just a little bit easier to handle. It might not replace people in the longer term, but technology can be a big help in plugging the gaps while they’re out of the office!
Used well, technology can be an immensely powerful tool that can help us do our jobs better. Rather than seeing it as a threat, we want to encourage our customers to see the huge opportunities it offers, in terms of time saving, service delivery and profitability. Freeing your staff from arduous admin to enable them to work on the areas they can really add value – now that’s something worth talking about.
For an informal chat about your business needs, and how our trading software systems for merchant business could help, just give us a call on 01202 861606. We also offer a no obligation, totally free opportunity to access a system demo if you’d like to have a play with it yourself – just let us know if you’re interested and we can send you the details.