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Supply Chains Ramping Up Their Mobile Investments

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Regardless of industry, corporations in the U.S. this year are looking to position more resources into their mobile efforts.

New reports from digital enterprise services firm PointSource say that the vast majority — 91 percent — of companies surveyed across verticals are looking to invest in mobile this year, with 86 percent of them ready to put more than $100,000 into the effort.

For industries like retail and consumer insurance, mobile strategies have an obvious role. Payments made over smartphone, online shopping through mobile tablets or submission of insurance claims while at the side of the road are clear use cases in this space.

But PointSource’s latest report uncovers more opportunity for the enterprise to access the power of mobile within the supply chain.

“The State of the Mobile Experience: An Evaluation of Retail, Insurance, Finance and Supply Chain Industries” examines how companies are strategizing mobile tools, like mobile-friendly websites and other services, to boost their businesses.

Researchers identified a few key areas in which supply chain companies, like suppliers and logistics providers, can wield the power of mobile. More than half (54 percent) of supply chain companies surveyed said inventory management is their top pain point. Nearly the same amount pointed to quality assurance, while 48 percent said overall inefficient processes and a third said outdated information are their biggest struggles.

Supply chain companies either with a mobile presence or looking to develop one must ensure their strategy addresses these concerns,” PointSource concluded, “and that their mobile user experiences make handling operational tasks like these easier.”

The majority (81 percent) of supply chain firms have a mobile site, and 71 percent said they offer a mobile app. But less than a quarter say these businesses are actually using these apps to handle everyday tasks. Only one in 10 rank their own company’s mobile presence as “excellent.”

“Mobile technologies are a major financial investment to squander, but when inefficiency trumps usefulness, it is likely that supply chain companies are turning away from their current solutions,” the report stated.

Logistics, it turns out, may have the biggest chance to improve supply chain management, with 88 percent of companies citing this area as their top interest for mobile services. Nearly 75 percent said barcode scanning and storage would also benefit from mobile solutions, and 69 percent identified inventory optimization software as a key opportunity for mobile.

 

What This Means For Cash Flow

According to analysts, proper supply chain management is critical for any company’s cash flow.

“Automating and optimizing supply chain processes can help to prevent some problems and keep the cash crunch frequency low,” said one supply chain company, IntelliTrack, which provides inventory software solutions. With the majority of companies surveyed by PointSource pointing to inventory management as their biggest demand for mobile tools, IntelliTrack’s emphasis of the role of inventory management on cash flow suggests mobile inventory management tools may boost the bottom line for members of the supply chain.

“Managing inventory can alleviate pressure on cash flow,” IntelliTrack continued in a blog post published last May. The company pointed to higher taxes, unused warehouse space, shipping penalties and product devaluation as potential effects of poor inventory management — all of which can make a dent in corporate balance sheets.

For supply chain firms to see more efficient cash management, their investments in mobile solutions need to be personalized, concluded PointSource.

That means vendors need to provide mobile offerings that will work specifically for their corporate companies. The evidence exists to support corporates’ investment plans in mobile tools, too. According to the survey, 70 percent of supply chain firms told PointSource that their mobile apps that were tailored to their corporate customers boosted customer satisfaction.

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