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Trade Related: How an effective Warehouse Management System can help your trade supply business

by Andrew Burg,
Aug 2, 2023
Software for 3PL warehouse management
Software for 3PL warehouse management

Table of Contents:

How an effective Warehouse Management System can help your trade supply business meet the rapidly evolving needs of your tradie customers.

Managing supplies and ensuring timely deliveries to trade customers can be a daunting task. From coordinating with your suppliers to keeping track of inventory levels, there are numerous challenges that come with running a successful trade supply business. 

One solution that can help alleviate some of these pressures is by implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS). In this article, we will explore how a WMS can benefit trade supply businesses in Australia and how to keep those busy and demanding tradies happy.

Tools of the Trade Supply Business.

Before we climb onto the scaffolding and look into the advantages of a WMS, it’s important to understand the common challenges that trade supply companies face when managing their business. 

Plumbers, sparkies, chippies, plasterers, brickkies and painters are busy people. And while they are generally good natured and often entertaining people to deal with, they can also be quite demanding. 

So to avoid those angry phone calls when a consignment of Gyprock Casting Plaster, purlin screws or PVC-U pipe hasn’t turned up on-site, you need to be right up with the play. This is especially true these days, when the supply of building materials is being interrupted by supply chain disruptions caused by heavy demand, the Ukraine conflict, and the aftermath of COVID-19. 

Right. It’s nearly smoko time, so let’s have a rummage in the tool belt and pull out a few of the useful gadgets you’ll find in a WMS.  

Inventory management 

Keeping track of inventory levels, product locations and expiration dates can be time-consuming and prone to errors. An efficient WMS will provide you with real-time inventory tracking, enabling your staff to easily locate products when tradies order them, monitor your inventory levels — you don’t want to run out of nail gun nails, paint brushes or pipe glue — and minimise the chance of stockouts or overstocking.

Order processing

In the trade supply game, there are literally thousands of product lines to manage: each one with a niche somewhere in the complex design and build process. So preparing orders accurately and fast can be quite a chore without proper processing systems and accuracy checks in place. 

A WMS can process your trade orders quickly and efficiently, reducing the likelihood of errors and improving turnaround times. From the first contact with your customer (email, phone call or a crumpled piece of paper with the order written on it in builder’s pencil) to final dispatch or pickup, your tireless WMS will take care of all the details with the speed and effectiveness of a good apprentice.

Delivery and transportation

Coordinating the transport and delivery of products to building sites can be complex, especially if it involves multiple suppliers and delivery routes that can be complex, long and prone to interruptions. Automated delivery and transportation scheduling is one of the core components of a TransVirtual WMS. 

With this powerful tool you can optimize routes, give up-to-the-minute delivery times (see below), reduce the amount of fuel consumed by delivery vehicles, and generally lower the costs involved with getting products to your customers.

Communication 

admin taking calls for dispatching - driver and customer support

Nothing pisses a tradie off faster than not being kept up to date with the whereabouts of their supplies. This stems from the fact that building projects depend on an efficient workflow from start to finish. There’s no point in having the plasterers turn up if the wallboard hasn’t been delivered on time for the chippies to put it up. So being able to keep your trade customers apprised of progress and delays is vital.

However, effective communication with suppliers, customers, and team members can be challenging without the right tools. A WMS makes communication between clients, tradies and customers simple and accurate through integrated messaging systems that ensure everyone is on the same page.  

What to Look for in a WMS for Your Trade Supply Business.

When a chippie buys a new hammer, he or she will pick it up, swing it, flip it and maybe even hit a nail in with it. And it’s the same with selecting a WMS for your trade supply business.

You need to make sure that it’s going to hit the nail on the head (so to speak) for your particular needs. Here are a few key features to consider.

  • Mobile Accessibility. A mobile-friendly platform allows tradies to access the system from anywhere, at any time, making it easier to manage supplies on the go.
  • Integration with CRMs. Seamless integration with accounting and customer relationship management (CRM) systems helps to eliminate duplicate data entry and improve overall operational efficiency.
  • Customizable Reporting and Analytics. You need to have access to customized reports and analytics in order to gain valuable insights into the supply chain operations and make informed decisions.
  • Scalability. As your business grows, your WMS should be able to scale with you, providing the necessary support and functionality to meet increasing demands.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to the key features we’ve already covered, here are a few of the more advanced features that can enhance the performance of your trade supply business’s WMS.

  • Barcode Scanning. Barcode scanning can be used to quickly and accurately identify products, locations, and shipments, allowing your staff to make up orders much more rapidly and providing you with infinitely more accurate order and inventory tracking.
  • RFID Capabilities. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology can be used to track products and shipments in real-time, providing greater visibility and control over the supply chain. These little chips attached to consignments will let you follow them along the delivery routes from point of dispatch to arrival on site. Combine this with TransVirtual’s powerful Delivery and Dispatch software and you will have full oversight over the delivery process: like an all-seeing foreman watching over a building site! 
  • Advanced Analytics. Metrics are key to understanding how your business is tracking. You need to keep an eye on what your tradie clients are buying, how they are doing their ordering and payment, and things that upset or please them.

The advanced analytics and reporting capabilities of a TransVirtual WMS can provide deep insights into supply chain operations, allowing your business to identify areas for improvement and optimize your operations accordingly.

This also applies to your financial control and accounting systems. A TransVirtual WMS will seamlessly connect with accounting programs such as MYOB and Xero. Check out our blog about this by clicking here.

  • Cloud-based Deployment. TransVirtual software is a cloud-based deployment model which offers greater flexibility and scalability, allowing your business to easily expand your WMS capabilities as needed.
  • Robust Security Features. Every WMS should have robust security features to protect against unauthorized access and data breaches, ensuring the integrity of sensitive supply chain information. Be sure to check this out while you are considering a WMS platform for your business.

Build Your Company’s Future With a WMS.

Australian tradies are masters of their crafts. They are renown for their adaptability, professionalism, reliability and expertise. And by having a shiny new Warehouse Management System at the helm of your trade supply business, you will be easily able to keep your trade clients working at maximum efficiency. A well-designed WMS will streamline your inventory management, eliminate picking errors and heighten your responsiveness and ability to cope with rapidly-changing fluctuations in supply and demand. 

The enhanced traceability and data analysis made possible by your WMS will give your company a leading edge over the competition, boost your brand’s reputation, and make you look like all around good guys and girls in the eyes of your tradie customers.

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