Friday, May 27, 2016

Can the UBER Model work for you?

The Uberization of Distribution

Uber has disrupted the taxi industry.  But how can you copy the Uber model and bring that level of innovative service to your clients? 
Image result for uber
That question is generating a great deal of discussion among logistics and distribution executives.  Here are some of my thoughts mixed with theirs.. 

Transporting goods long distances can be done far more cost efficiently than the delivery of the last few miles when goods arrive in congested metropolitan areas. Last mile delivery has taken on added urgency as traditional retailers have embraced omni-channel capabilities as a way to compete with ecommerce giants like Amazon. Omni-channel fulfillment, which spans a variety of delivery flow paths – store to home, delivery from warehouse, etc. – is all about last mile.

Uber has definitely created buzz. The company has grown incredibly quickly and has a very high valuation.  Founded in 2009, it is reported that the company may now be worth $50 billion.

Uber’s secret? In is easy to use, often cheaper than taxis, and is generally a more pleasant experience than a taxi ride. If you are live in a metro area in the U.S., it may be hard to believe that there are people that don’t know about Uber. But Uber has not fully penetrated smaller towns in the U.S., and while Uber is a global company, it is not as widely available in other regions of the world as it is in North America.

So for non-Uber users a quick tutorial is in order. Uber is the tech company that developed an easy to use app that can be downloaded to smartphones. Using this app a person can order a ride.  Uber is designed to leverage “the sharing economy.” In logistics we call this a “non-asset based model.” Both of these terms mean that Uber does not own any vehicles. Rather Uber drivers use their own vehicles to taxi passengers to their destination.

Carriers who own logistics assets and make last mile deliveries, like FedEx and UPS, are not competing based upon an Uber style business model. Nor is Amazon, who steeply subsidizes their deliveries, but still makes money based upon retail sales and other nonlogistics business lines.

Dick Metzler the Chief Marketing Officer at uShip, a sharing economy-based company that makes deliveries of vehicles, furniture and other bulky goods to consumers, is emphatic that the Uber model will not work for “on demand” parcel or food delivered in 1-2 hours.

“More volume just makes it worse.”  Dick’s work history includes time at FedEx Freight, DHL Express and APL Logistics , so Mr. Metzler has a strong understanding of freight industry economics. “What works is route density; short miles between stops.  One to two hour deliveries destroys the ability of a carrier to consolidate a route.  There is lots of dead venture capital dollars chasing the wrong stuff. If you back off to one day deliveries, there is at least some prospect at getting to delivery density. But consumers don’t want one day. And they want free deliveries.”

In contrast, Dave Mount, a partner in Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth Fund, believes there could be an Uber type play in last mile.  Kleiner Perkins, incidentally, is an investor at UShip and that investment is “doing well.” According to Mr. Mount, “you would need participation of existing local fleets to create the necessary density. If a plumber or service technician is already going to a certain neighborhood – why not pick up omni-channel order for delivery” and make some extra money.
Image result for chickens home to roost

Mr. Metzler adds, “venture capital dollars are shielding (consumers) from the real costs of delivery. The chickens will come home to roost.”

Here is where I add my two cents. 
the first piece is why don't we concentrate on the ease of use for Uber?
It's so much easier then calling a cab, and they give real time feedback on the driver as well as personalize the interaction. 

These are all things any distribution company can do. From simple stuff like including notification when items ship, to customized billing and invoice forms. 
To including a one click option for the most frequently ordered items by customer on your web app. 

These are all ways to "Uber" up your current business. 

Want to leverage the delivery model? 
Here are some innovative views on the supply chain we discussed a few months back  or another unique delivery model that may also get you to the Uber level is the warehouse on wheels concept.

So the concept for today is not to be exactly like Uber but rather look at what they do that works and builds market share. Then take those ideas and incorporate into your business model and make it work for you.

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Are you a snowflake?

Much like a snowflake, No two companies are alike, and their ERP systems shouldn't be either. 

Why your software needs to be unique..

Manufacturing and distribution, in particular, have unique, and uniquely complex, processes and workflows that require functionality a vanilla ERP application can't provide. These types of companies require an ERP application that's designed for their industry, with industry-specific workflows, forms and data formats, in addition to user-friendly tools for customization. While many ERP vendors suggest that it's best to conform to the ERP application's practices, and in truth business practices do make sense when they work for you, however more often than not the the ERP software should be adaptable to the customer.

So yes we make the point and we sell the software but what are the important points when you look at your software vendor. 
1. The vendor's customer list. Does it already have customers in that industry, and do they say good things about the software? It's easy for a business to claim vertical industry experience on a “nice-looking” website, but do they have actual reference customers to prove it? Do they have other customers in your Buying Group? or Industry Affiliations? 
2. Is the vendor recognized as a leader in the industry? Leading vendors in an industry inevitably get covered in the trade media, invited to speak at conferences and asked to sponsor trade shows. Its executives typically author blog posts on industry topics (ok shameless plug here) . Do they rank the vendor in specific vertical industries?
3.Is the Software offering flexible? Do they a cloud-based model? Serious customization work on an on-premise, legacy ERP platform is often painfully difficult and time consuming.  Such ERP applications weren't built for a web-based world or to be intensely customized, meaning that it may take months of work and a large financial outlay for consultants. ERP applications built for the cloud, however, have the open web standards and visual tools to make customization easier.
4. Does it offer Integration options?  ERP vendors show their interest in a vertical industry by fostering third-party development communities to attract a large mix of useful add-on applications, widgets, templates, workflow tools and integrations to extend the core functionality. Examples might be simple UPS or Fedex integration or more industry specific integration such as FDA Drug Information.

Ok, so some people don't agree with the snowflake analogy so in all fairness, here is the point/counterpoint - Apparently snowflakes are not that unique.. "Sometimes the internet ruins all your fun..." 

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.

Friday, May 13, 2016

How to Get Salespeople to Use Sales Software

Image result for sales loveAutomation and analytics are all the rage. But how can you get your salespeople to actually use the software tools you give them. and its brethren in the sales force automation world have done a darn good job selling sales managers on the benefits of their software. According to a Fortune Magazine Survey, Big companies will spend an estimated $29 billion on systems for tracking customer relationships in 2016. That’s more than for any other business application category.

But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a quota-carrying sales representative who loves updating contact databases regularly, especially when he or she could be closing a deal. That’s one reason you’re hearing Salesforce and rivals like Bullhorn and SugarCRM talk about new features that automate these tasks through artificial intelligence and data analysis.

Along those lines it's really about how can you make it easy, painless and match each salespersons style of selling.  The simple answer? 

Flexible Customizable Software that can integrate easily into your CRM. 

There are already add-on apps that offer these sorts of insights such as LiveHive, which captures contact info for sales prospects, or ToutApp and Yesware, which track who is opening emails and other campaign materials.

None of them is meant to replace your customer relationship management (CRM) systems

In most cases, they’re intended to complement them. CRM tools are great with providing indicators, but they’re not so great at giving you predictors, at encouraging someone on the team to be successful.  So what can you do to motivate?

Here are three  companies that you want to take a look at:

Brainshark, which uses video evaluations to help managers offer feedback.

Image result for sales loveClearSlide, which identifies which sales prospects area ctually viewing pitch videos and presentations so teams can prioritize.

Spiro Technologies, which sells a mobile app that acts as a virtual coach. (You can pick different “personalities” ranging from a pushy mother to a surfer dude.)

The MDS-Nx System offers both an API (application programming interface) as well as multiple integration points, the Message is clear - the best tools for for the job often require some integration, some larger concept thinking and the ability to make the tools match to your sales force.

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Richard Dawson had it right..

Survey Says...  

For those who remember, Richard Dawson called out the magic words "Survey Says" and we were astounded by the answers.(Enjoy the video) , but for now the message is that Zebra Technologies did a survey and not surprisingly they found out that more and more Technology is playing a larger role in the warehouse. 

"New technologies are transforming warehouses, particularly those serving e-commerce, a Zebra Technologies survey of logistics professionals finds.Technology is becoming more integral to warehouse operations to meet the needs of e-commerce customers." 

Warehouses are undergoing massive changes in labor and technology to accommodate the needs of e-commerce, according to a new report.
Because of the increasing complexity of supply chain operations, it took 60.4 hours to train new staff to “full productivity” in 2015, up 26% from 2013, said a report by Zebra Technologies Co., which sells bar code scanners and other technologies to help companies track and manage their business operations. Some 72% of nearly 1,400 logistics professionals surveyed around the world expect to use voice-directed picking solutions by 2020, up from just 30% in 2015.
The changes, among others in the report, illustrate the rapid pace at which companies are already adjusting their supply chains to meet consumer demands for faster delivery speeds and more convenience.

Companies that previously asked warehouse workers to pick one large box full of shirts in four different sizes, with one bar code, to be shipped to a store are now picking individual shirts out of a box with four bar codes, said Dan Chamberlain, senior manager of marketing for Zebra’s transportation and logistics business. The need for speed and accuracy make those jobs far more complex, making training more difficult, he added. “It’s on a higher level of detail.”
The higher demand for speed and accuracy is underscored by the growing number of companies expecting to invest in voice-directed picking, or devices typically used in combination with hands-free scanners that give workers verbal instructions. Though there are an increasing number of providers competing in this space, voice picking solutions tend to be more expensive than traditional bar code scanners.

Companies are willing to pay the extra cost for such technology “because of productivity enhancement and accuracy enhancement as well,” Mr. Chamberlain said.
Image result for voice directed pickingMeanwhile, companies increasingly expect to open new warehouses instead of expanding their old ones. The report said more than three-quarters of respondents expect to increase their number of warehouses by 2020, up from 48% in 2015. About 60% of respondents said they expect to expand their existing warehouse space in 2020, down from 64% who say they’re expanding now.
This is because competitive pressure to deliver goods to consumers faster is leading companies to invest in smaller facilities closer to population centers, instead of focusing their investment on larger facilities in traditional logistics hubs.

“As consumer demand changes, the demands of business providers [whether it’s] a retail company, a manufacturer, or their third party logistics provider changes,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “That’s how you end up with these changes in warehouse activity…The consumer drives everything.”

The Good News is that the MDS-Nx System includes a wireless warehouse module with wearable and voice directed hardware options, designed specifically to address these needs. 
In the Pharmaceutical space Serialization is just around the corner. 
Is your software company prepared and already deploying solutions to help you meet these challenges? 

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to
Click here and tell us how we can help you with your business solutions.