With business operations streamlined, your company is better suited to make strategic decisions and respond quickly to customers’ needs. But with a technically complex business model and a thousand processes in place, how can you manage it?
Maintaining efficient, cost-effective operations keeps you on target to meet your business goals and offers a competitive advantage by reducing errors, minimizing bottlenecks and promoting flexibility in processes. All of this is important if you want to provide consistent, high-quality customer service.
It doesn’t take a team of superheroes to transform your business into a lean, mean operating machine. All you need is the right set of tools, including software for advanced planning and scheduling (APS).
Commonly used in manufacturing, APS software has many practical applications for retail environments and can simplify common processes throughout the supply chain, leading to better outcomes.
In manufacturing, advanced planning and scheduling refers to a way of optimizing the whole flow of production from raw materials to finished products. The principles can be applied when managing retail environments, too. APS software is designed to handle complex systems and workflows, coordinating operations that would otherwise be handled separately.
Improved visibility and better communication across departments are two of the top reasons why retail businesses should consider APS software. If marketing has no idea what’s going on in sales and sales is completely disconnected from purchasing, you wind up with issues like too much or too little inventory, slow delivery of customer orders or an inability to meet demand.
You want to be able to allocate all your resources as effectively as possible, which requires removing silos for better management of operations between departments. Robust APS programs are even able to help you plan around and work through bottlenecks to prevent loss of sales due to unforeseen complications.
By prioritizing operations and processes based on the logistics of supply and demand, it’s possible to anticipate future sales and inventory required to prevent empty shelves and frustrating back orders. You can time inventory purchases and predict delivery dates for online orders more accurately. Ultimately, all of this makes customers a lot happier and more likely to continue doing business with you.
The retail supply chain isn’t so different from manufacturing when it comes to the need for streamlining. Intelligent, data-driven decisions are at the core of every successful business, and that’s where advanced planning and scheduling for retail can make a difference. Using APS software can:
All of this serves to improve cash flow and develop better customer relationships. When you can see and eliminate unnecessary steps and commit to efficient distribution of resources, you set your business on the path toward success.
Because APS software is typically used by manufacturers, you need to be sure the solution you choose can be applied to the business processes of your retail operation. Check that the features can handle every part of your supply chain and provide better visibility from the point of manufacture to the moment a sale is made. Also, be sure to verify that tools for analyzing and understanding data are included.
How about integrations and scalability? Any new software you introduce should work seamlessly with your other tools and offer options to expand as your business grows and operations become more complex. Find out if your current technology is sufficient to support a powerful APS solution, or if you need to upgrade to newer equipment. It’s important to be able to leverage every feature of the software so that you can apply the information it provides, and make strategic decisions to improve your business at every level.
Most of all, you need an easy-to-use platform. Investing in a time-saving tool that takes more time to use than it winds up saving doesn’t make any sense. Get details regarding the setup process and the amount of training necessary to prepare your employees to use the software in daily workflows. Don’t make a move to implement advanced planning and scheduling until you’ve had a chance to give the software you intend to use a real-world test drive.
You may be thinking, “It’s great that APS software can do all this for my business, but how am I going to afford it without taking money away from my operating budget?”
Additional capital from a business loan can go directly toward purchasing software and making any necessary equipment updates without putting a dent in your normal business budget.
National Business Capital & Services offers several loan structures suitable for these types of purchases. With a business line of credit, you can draw out funds as needed to cover monthly fees for cloud-based APS solutions and pay to train employees in its use. Equipment financing gives you access to any new technology you may need to support the software.
Start running a more efficient business today with the right APS platform and a more powerful technological framework. When you’re able to spend less but deliver more, you can accelerate growth through better service and a commitment to operational excellence!
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Matt Carrigan is the Content Writer at National Business Capital & Services. He loves spending every day creating content to educate business owners across every industry about business growth strategies, and how they can access the funding they need!