Automation tools offer significant advantages to supply chain

Automation tools are gaining popularity across different industries, particularly with retailers and manufacturers. For example, one of the top U.S. grocery retailers recently purchased an electronic invoice automation solution that integrates directly into its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

"Innovative progressive companies are utilizing [the technology's] functionality to enhance and exploit their existing ERP software and become more automated in their relationships with suppliers and customers," said Matthew Oakes, CEO and president of Direct Institute.

The grocery retailer purchased the solution in the hope it will lessen the amount of inquiries it receives from suppliers. This is one of the many ways invoice automation - and technology in general - can potentially benefit the supply chain. According to a recent Times of India report, technology is the single most important tool when it comes to managing the supply chain.

"A combination of process changes and use of advanced technology can help companies gain better returns on marketing and sales investments, reduce cost, strengthen relationships across the value chain and retain customers," Yogesh Shroff, finance and supply chain director at Nivea India, told the news source.

Tools like ERP systems, data recognition applications and automation programs are needed to effectively manage the flow of information and products from one company to another.

According to the news source, technology has three main functions in the supply chain: tracking, collaboration and transaction processing. For transaction processing, enterprise software can help in variety of ways, from billing and order processing to monitoring a product's delivery status.

Automation for marketing
Marketing and invoice automation typically aren't linked together, but a recent destinationCRM blog suggested automation systems can actually help a company boost its sales

Automation tools are especially effective with regard to marketing when they are used in a proactive manner. Umberto Milletti, CEO of InsideView, told the news source that some customer relationship management (CRM) programs are linked with their customers' social media accounts and "automatically notify them when something compelling happens."

This may include both good and bad notifications, such as when a customer has a need for a new product or when there is a potential threat. Oftentimes, companies that already have CRM programs can set up automated systems to notify them of anything major.