November 23 2020

4 ways the Digital Age is allowing Food & Drink Distributors to gain better visibility over operations

We have recently discussed the importance of transparency for distributors in the digital age, as a way to build relationships, trust and customer loyalty. From the perspective of both individual businesses and their supply chain links, a lot of issues and inefficiencies arise from having an unclear view of operations and processes - When communication and visibility is stunted, growth and productivity are limited.
For progressive, future-oriented distributors, investing in digital solutions has been a necessity - These systems and solutions can provide a clearer view of operations of any scale, allowing data-driven decisions to be made which guarantee improvements.
‘Business as usual’ has been left behind as we enter the Digital Age, and Supply Chains are keen to develop and evolve towards more efficient, visible processes.
This article aims to highlight key areas of the FoodService Distribution which have been massively evolved with the helping hand of Digital Systems.

1. Improving Stock Control

Digital Systems have enabled Foodservice distributors and wholesalers to take a stronger hold over their inventories. Historically, incompetent systems have burdened distributors with a lack of visibility over the optimum stock levels to both satisfy demand and reduce wastage.
Paper-based systems and delayed updates can lead to confusion, miscalculation and manual error, which reflect in mismatched actual stocks versus stock counts. Down the line, this can be reflected in too much or too little stocks, which can lead to an inefficient use of warehouse or inventory space (often adding to costs and inhibiting profits).
The Digital Age has no doubt brought an element of precision, which forward-thinking distributors are leveraging to optimise re-order levels through immediately updated stock levels across all inventories. These optimisations mean stock levels are managed with a bird’s eye view, and re-order times can become precise enough to achieve a smooth flow from supplier to distributor, and down to the customer.

2. Live Route Data

Live Route Data is the ability to get a clear view of a businesses’ mobile workforce throughout the day. With GPS tracking and Cloud-based Systems which depend on the internet for connectivity, office teams have been granted access with immediate updates on driver locations, delivery updates and inconsistencies to the workflow.
These features of modern delivery management systems improve responsiveness to delays, whether that be traffic, vehicle issues or otherwise. For example, RouteMagic offers a mandatory Vehicle Inspection, to be completed before the driver can access and view the details of the day’s route. This report is instantly made available on the office system, and failed inspections can send emails to the appropriate teams so any necessary decisions can be made to resume a steady workflow as smoothly as possible.
Removing the need for manual updates from driver to office and vice versa allows each team to work together without delaying workflow and efficiency.

3. Consumer Data

Customer-centric ways of working have been adopted across industries, and this does not stop at retailers. B2B relations require ever-more personalised service, and customers ideally want to feel as though they are the priority at all times.
Understanding customers means knowing their purchasing habits; what do they buy, how often do they place orders and when do they usually expect deliveries to be dropped off. They have their own customers to please, and so with greater visibility, the quality of customer service can be improved and heightened loyalty can be achieved.
Companies have been leveraging better customer data for years; largely in retail, although distributors and wholesalers are catching up quickly. CRM Systems offer behavioral analysis in an easy-to-digest format for businesses to leverage. The improving detail of these insights means businesses can access information that was previously difficult to capture, and they can make predictions more accurately about the types of products each customer is interested in, as well as being able to predict consumer trends and movements which improves business foresight.

4. Data Storage

Receiving, storing and organising records over time can put a strain on physical space and resources. With improper storage comes an increased risk of manual error and lost files/reports. Over time as the business scales, these records can also end up taking a lot of filing space in physical offices, along with additional administrative costs too.
Cloud-based Data storage has single-handedly solved this traditional issue. With safe and secure storage using a digital system, reports can be organised automatically, meaning less administrative work for your team. The added benefit is the ease of locating reports and records when needed through simply searching the system. Removing the need for paper-based filing lets businesses work more sustainably and with less paper usage, and reports can be forwarded to the relevant departments/customers/employees/teams quickly while the original reports are held securely by the digital database.

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