In the world of direct store distribution (DSD), there isn’t any storefront to conduct sales at. You need to go wherever your customer is and have the means to conduct business as usual. A route accounting system allows a single representative to efficiently serve the customer in the field. From pre-sales to reconciliation, a route accounting solution will allow you to accept purchase orders, issue invoices and collect payments while on the go.
The combination of software, mobile computers and portable printers will give your business the means to order, load, ship and deliver the right quantities of the right products every time. In any industry where the bottom line depends on the efficiency of your field sales team, having the tools to stay accurate, effective and on-time determines the success of your business.What are the Key Benefits of a Route Accounting System?A well designed and implemented route accounting system provides the benefits of:
- Accuracy – Ship and deliver the right items on every order.
- Productivity – Process and deliver more orders throughout the day.
- Traceability – Avoid conflict with customers and increases your reliability knowing what was delivered, damaged or returned.
- Reporting – Create efficient delivery routes and stock levels with more detail into delivery times and popular products.
What is Route Accounting?
The mobility-centric trends in business technology have made it possible to have more interactions with your customers at their location. Route accounting is the means to conduct business from order to delivery and receipt wherever the customer is. Having accurate and reliable information at all times is critical to ensuring your customer’s orders are correct, get delivered on time and a trail on accountability is recorded to avoid conflict and replacement orders.
The best way to think of route accounting is that each vehicle you send out is a mobile store and POS. Each vehicle has an inventory of products that you will need to reconcile at the end of the day. A robust route accounting system will have the means to track inventory at your main facility against what is going in and out of vehicles each day. Customers may also place orders ahead of time and you will need to make sure the right order is packed with the correct deliver vehicle. Likewise, if orders are placed in the field, your system should be able to provide inventory availability to your employees.
Having your vehicles packed with inventory or orders is just the first step. Once in the field, your employees will need to be able to have a delivery route and schedule to follow. More advanced systems will even have maps and directions to follow. As they go from customer to customer they will essentially be a mobile point of sale. Each customer can place orders and make payments directly to the delivery driver. Access to customer account information and the ability to process payments with a printed receipt are basic features of any route accounting system. In applications where the driver doesn’t have the inventory available, remote ordering in the field is possible as well. Once the order is placed it can be transmitted back to your main facility to be processed immediately. All of this is possible by equipping each driver with a suitable mobile computer that will be able to call up the needed information and process orders.
With the order delivered, you will need a trail of accountability which is easily done with printed receipts and signature capture for each invoice. This ensures your customers are getting their orders when they are supposed to while protecting your business from any conflict with your clients. When your employee returns back to your facility; you will reconcile every transaction they conducted with what they have in their vehicle. This process prevents shrinkage and loss with each employee being held responsible for their transactions.
A capable route accounting system will allow you to manage a fleet of vehicles and every transaction they conduct in the field. The system will also allow you to see deeper into sales trends and delivery efficiencies to streamline your inventory and delivery process. A route accounting system makes it possible for a single representative to efficiently and completely serve your customers.
What Should You Address When Making a Route Accounting System?
When putting together an effective and suitable route accounting system there are a few key questions to answer:
- How many users will you have in the field?
- Will orders be transmitted back to your facility in real-time?
- Do you have a current WAN provider?
- Will you need receipt printing on delivery? Signature capture?
- Do you need delivery routes and orders dispatched in the field?
- Will you accept payments in the field?
- Do you need integration with an accounting or ERP system?
What are the Components of a Route Accounting System?
All route accounting systems consist of three main components:
- Route Accounting Software – The application you use will determine the capabilities and workflow of your system. Real-time updates, receipt printing, inventory management and reconciliation are among the features that will determine which application is best fit for your business.
- Mobile Computers – The mobile computer is the primary tool a representative will use in the field. Taking orders, receiving delivery routes, processing a payment and signature capture are all done through the mobile device you select.
- Portable Printers – Every sale ends with a receipt. In the delivery truck or on their hip, reps will need a means to provide customers a record of their transaction.