Are companies missing an important trick to improving their cash-flow?
Making a delivery tends to involve the transfer of a fairly illegible carbon delivery note to the customer. The recipient has little flexibility in making adjustments to the order and even if he can, the result is an indecipherable note scribbled across the delivery documentation.
Back at the distribution centre lengthy manual paper trails, involving reconciling actual delivered items against documentation, and then the generation and sending out of invoices creates a prolonged, labour intensive, and costly process that unnecessarily delays the issuing of an invoice.
This need not be the case. In Italy, Coca-Cola HBC has used mobile technology – portable terminals and printers – to get away from the inflexibility of pre-printed delivery notes. At the time of delivery any customer changes or returns are recorded on the PDA, the driver and the client then sign the delivery note on the PDA and a delivery note is printed out there and then on a mobile printer. Once back at the distribution centre, data from the PDA is sent wirelessly to the ERP system and invoices can be sent out in minutes rather than days.
Digitising these processes reduces errors, takes out cost, improves customer service and importantly, improves cash-flow. The technology is here, so why aren’t more companies using it? Returns operations could also benefit from this technology as details can be confirmed and a delivery receipt printed, together with a bar coded label for the package to identify it on return to the depot.
Surely, grubby old pieces of carbonated paper can’t be that appealing.