The 2018 ‘Global Powers of Retailing Report’ by Deloitte has revealed that Amazon is now the sixth-largest retailer in the world. Since it was founded nearly 25 years ago, the on-line retail giant holds more power than ever, continuously entering new markets and making strides to improve operations through innovative technologies and market-disrupting concepts.
The ‘Amazon effect’ that has impacted the retail industry means manufacturers today are constantly having to up their game to ensure they are consistently providing the near-immediate response times, and ever-more affordable pricing, that their customers demand. As pressure from customers, who are in turn being squeezed by their customers and distributors including the likes of Amazon, grows, manufacturers must strive to constantly stay one step ahead of the competition.
Manufacturers that continually modernize processes, enhance efficiency and reduce running costs have the potential to gain critical competitive advantage, whereas those that fail to do so will find customers going elsewhere.
Migrating from traditional fax processes to cloud faxing is one way that forward-thinking manufacturers can achieve this competitive advantage, and here’s how:
Streamline Operations and Improve Productivity
A cloud fax solution will not only enhance your customers’ experience, it will also make your internal processes far more efficient. Having the facilities to receive, edit, sign and send secure fax documents almost immediately will empower your employees, as they’ll be able to work to their full potential, rather than being hampered by old and clunky technology, and inefficient processes.
For example, inbound orders can be distributed to the correct departments seamlessly, with the document going directly to the inbox of the person responsible, instead of sitting around on a shared fax machine where it can get picked up by the wrong person or get mixed up with other orders coming in on the same machine.
For another example, let’s say an organization bidding out a large potential order has asked that all Requests for Proposal (RFPs) be submitted via fax. Firstly, the employee responsible for sending the document would need to print off a hard copy and then manually feed the full RFP through the fax machine, remaining at the machine’s side for the entire process to ensure all pages send successfully.
As an RFP is usually a sizeable document, this could be a lengthy task, not to mention any additional delays associated with a standalone fax machine. What if the sender has to wait in line for an available fax machine, or several pages of the document fail to transmit successfully and must be resent, or the paper jams at a critical time minutes before the deadline.
As cloud-based fax does not rely on a phone line or physical machinery, employees will be able to fax by email, through a web portal, or even via a mobile app, without needing to print a single sheet of paper. This means staff will have the flexibility to send important communications via fax, instantaneously from their desktop, or remotely, for example, either working from home or while travelling.
Removing an expensive piece of hardware that needs regular maintenance and repairs will also eliminate a lot of unnecessary overhead. Plus, without all that paper, toner, and electricity needed to run a fax machine, you’ll drastically improve your organization’s carbon footprint with cloud fax.
Faster Response Times
Advancements in inventory management and shipping/delivery services have fueled an increased demand from customers for ever-shorter and ‘just-in-time’ shipping processes; they don’t just want rapid delivery anymore, they demand it, and this is putting added pressure on manufacturers.
If your office is still operating a traditional desktop fax system, important messages or order requests could sit on the machine for long periods of time before someone picks it up. By this point, it could be too late and the client could have gone to an alternative manufacturer who can fulfil the request in a timelier manner. Conversely, a retail customer that fails to get their order in before the cutoff time, because your fax lines are all busy at peak hour, risks missing delivery dates and having empty shelves—not a happy customer experience.
It’s a highly competitive market out there. If you’re still operating a legacy fax infrastructure but your direct competitors are embracing cloud solutions, your company will soon appear dated. This could mean you lose out on new business or even see existing clientele switching to alternative manufacturers that do use the latest cutting-edge technology, and are therefore able to provide a more efficient and reliable service.
Maximize Productivity and Security
In the 2017 “Fax Survey” report from IDC, business leaders were asked to identify the top challenges they faced from continuing to use fax. The top two challenges were that traditional paper-based fax is wasteful and that the costs of manual faxing were too high. Further questioning in the same research revealed that a third of respondents felt that although there were faster communication alternatives on the market, “increased risk of security breach of other communication methods for sensitive, confidential, or protected information” meant that organizations would continue to use fax because it is considered to be a “trusted method of secure information exchange.”
In the manufacturing sector, the documents most commonly transmitted by fax for security reasons included purchase orders, shipping notices, invoices, and RFP responses. While the content of a fax is encoded during transmission, once it has been received, a printed copy of the faxed information, which can include credit card information, will be left sitting on the fax machine until someone passes by and retrieves it—whether they are authorized to do so or not. On top of this, legacy fax machines store all sent and received messages in an internal storage, therefore anybody with access to the machine after hours can access the documents.
The survey also reveals that during the next two years, fax will shift to cloud-based services, for good reason. A good cloud fax service is as quick and accessible as email messaging, but it is infinitely more secure. By using advanced encryption to shield messages during transmission and while in storage, a cloud-based fax infrastructure provides unrivaled data security.
So while many companies are still struggling to cut the cord when it comes to legacy faxing, in a world where frictionless transactions and strong data protection are increasingly desirable, migrating to a cloud fax solution will ensure timely, reliable and secure communication with your stakeholders. What’s more, the time previously spent maintaining servers, tracking down lost faxes and battling with dated and inefficient equipment can be put to better use within other areas of the business.
When it comes to business communications one thing is clear; fax is not going away anytime soon, but fax machines should be retired now. The future of faxing is in the cloud.
Brad Spannbauer is Senior Director of Product Management at j2 Cloud Services. To find out more visit eFax Corporate.