Top Tips: eInvoicing

5 top tips on how companies can achieve sustainable growth with a solid IT infrastructure supporting their supply chain and logistics.

[image_library_tag e3b77baf-fb6e-4739-94b5-fc294a784c92 118x192 alt="denise-oakley" title="denise-oakley" width="118" height="192"class="left "]Denise Oakley is the International Marketing Director at GXS, a leading provider of B2B integration services. She is also a company director of GXS UK Ltd. Denise is on the board of EDIFICE, a global B2B forum for high tech companies, as well as leading their marketing group initiatives. She has extensive international marketing experience with technology companies including Fujitsu, IBM and AST.

Denise shares her top tips on how companies can achieve sustainable growth with a solid IT infrastructure supporting their supply chain and logistics.

1.        Take the Next Step in eInvoicing

Companies have already adopted some form of electronic invoicing, but should look to the next step in 2014, extending adoption to more partners so the companies can benefit from automation of payment processes and integration with other business systems. In addition to saving upwards of 50% over paper-based systems, e-invoicing will increase the efficiency of your end-to-end supply chain. This will improve order and invoice processing and can result in faster payments.

2.        Improve stock control

Data on stock levels and product information can often end up scattered across numerous spreadsheets. This isn’t a good way to manage your business, is a waste of time and increases the risk of errors when data is manually re-entered to other systems. Consolidating stock data into a single platform (not spreadsheets!) means that information can be shared with your partners and/or updated in real time, ensuring greater efficiency and accuracy.

This will help you to reduce buffer stocks - remember the larger the inventory, the more time and effort it takes you to maintain. Bloated inventories result in disorganised and chaotic working environments. The reality is that excess stock is compensation for an inflexible supply chain or an indication of insufficient supply chain visibility. Removing unnecessary stock will cut down on storage space, handling time and reduce your costs.

3.        Adopt More Delivery Options

A robust supply chain opens the door to a host of new delivery options. By using Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs), for example, you can greatly improve the visibility of deliveries in the supply chain. Sent to the receiver ahead of a delivery, an ASN typically contains the same information as the original purchase order, as well as logistics information such as carton IDs, content descriptions, and transportation specifics, giving distributors and warehouses the data they need for advanced planning. Using ASNs enables several advanced delivery options, such as cross-docking, to consolidate inbound supplies which cuts warehouse costs.

Another option is drop-shipping, where finished goods can be shipped directly to a retailer’s customer. This provides better lead times for orders, helping both retailers and manufacturers to reduce costs. Finally, direct store delivery (DSD) sees a manufacturer ship directly to the point of consumption or sale, again bypassing distribution centres. Even if these specific examples don’t fit your business model, they should provide you with ideas on how a flexible B2B platform provides you with options that can benefit your business.

4.        Get Better Supply Chain Visibility

Something we keep talking about, but in 2014 make it a plan (see also point 5 on how). Getting visibility of the entire end-to-end supply chain will help you to identify any elements that are slowing down your operations or wasting your resources. This is going to be very helpful to know when considering expansion. You can address the issues before you grow the business and compound the problems! With globalisation increasing and the UK in a better position to export around the world, a comprehensive view of your supply chain on a global scale is important.

5.        Achieve B2B Integration With a Single Platform

Even the most advanced techniques are useless if they aren’t properly integrated into the rest of the business and your partners too. A truly integrated system on one platform is the key to achieving end-to-end global supply chain visibility.

A flexible and services-oriented B2B cloud platform will help automate global trading communities, shielding complexity from rapidly changing standards. It will also help eliminate duplicative efforts, drive efficiency, and enable a new level of process integration and business intelligence. By integrating into a single platform, businesses can ensure they achieve real results in 2014.


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