The Critical Role of a Flexible Labeling Solution During a Crisis

Flexible labeling processes were key to many businesses during the pandemic—but will those businesses be prepared for the next challenge?

enterprise labeling

If you develop enterprise resource planning, warehouse or business management software, you know integrating your system with a full-featured labeling solution gives your customers the ability to streamline supply chain processes.  Enterprise labeling, the process of labeling materials, parts, or finished goods as they move through the supply chain, gives businesses the ability to standardize labels, ensure compliance with regulations or customer requirements, and maintain visibility into what is printed, where and when, and who is accessing the system.

Prior to 2020, businesses implemented enterprise labeling for a competitive edge, giving them the ability to deliver faster, create new labels and scale more quickly, and control costs associated with labeling. But, during the pandemic, many businesses found that enterprise labeling solutions were key to business continuity.

4 Ways Labeling Solutions Impact Business Continuity

In the webinar COVID-19, Labeling, and Supply Chain Continuity, Loftware lists challenges businesses experienced in 2020 and how enterprise labeling provided the solution, including:

1. Operations took place at different facilities.

During the pandemic, some businesses had to move operations to different facilities due to shutdowns or moving operations to parts of the country—or the world—that experienced less of an impact from the pandemic. Those with a flexible labeling solution could leverage centralized label management to print from headquarters to provide new locations with the labels they needed and provide multilanguage functionality. A flexible solution also enabled operations to choose decentralized functionality, so individual locations could print and then sync with headquarters.

2. Some manufacturers made new products or offered new services.

To meet the demand for personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, ventilators, and other goods necessary to combat the pandemic, some businesses began producing new products. Others adapted to consumers’ preferences for e-commerce, buy online pickup in store, curbside pickup, and other options that helped them maintain social distancing. Enterprise labeling made creating new labels for these products and services and standardizing them across multiple locations quicker and easier.

3. Suppliers changed.

Loftware’s 2020 Supply Chain and Labeling Continuity Survey, summarized in the webinar, found that 70 percent of business leaders reported disruption to their supply chains during the pandemic, and almost half said the biggest challenge they experienced was receiving materials from suppliers.

As a result, businesses had to find new suppliers to enable them to keep up with demand. Part of the onboarding process is to ensure the supplier will correctly label the materials, supplies, or parts the business needs to streamline the receiving process and eliminate the need to print new labels upon receipt.

Enterprise labeling solutions can help a business add suppliers fast and efficiently integrate them into their processes.

4. Different employees printed labels.

Enterprise labeling solutions also helped businesses adapt to changes in their workforce. Businesses that had a labeling solution that was easy for employees to learn when their roles changed during the crisis had an advantage. Moreover, an enterprise labeling solution gives the business the ability to quickly set up new users and role-based access control to give people only the capabilities they need and protect label integrity.

Prepared for the Future?

It’s valuable to look back, but now that businesses have adapted, it’s more important to look forward. Hopefully, there won’t be another global crisis any time soon, but there are numerous circumstances, including natural disasters, electrical outages, fires, and even human error, that can shut down a facility or make routine operations anything but routine.

The Loftware survey found about 50 percent of businesses didn’t have the agility to adapt labeling processes to meet new operations and demands during the pandemic.

The question now is whether they’ll be ready next time.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

Zebra MC9400
Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.