David Bickerstaff 18 July 2023 3 min read

How Foodservice Distributors can drive productivity in FY24 - Part 1

As the main conduit between food and beverage manufacturers and the consumer outlets, Foodservice distributors play an undeniable role in keeping this nation fed.   

The Foodservice customer-supplier relationship hinges on the 3 R’s - right range, right price, reliably delivered.  

From paddock to plate, this supply & demand dynamic plays out all across the supply chain.

And for the distributor, the process all begins with an order.  


Swivel-chair integration 

In the low-tech days, every interaction along the foodservice supply chain was people powered.  Stocktake was done on paper, purchase requisitions were phoned through or given to a sales rep. Orders were typed into the system and invoiced before being picked, packed and put on the truck. 

And that’s just the order side of the equation; we haven’t even touched on the payment and accounting end of this process. 

On reflection, it’s clear that each interaction along the order-to-cash cycle presents friction. With the advent of the internet and ecommerce, we’ve been able to reduce friction in many areas of the supply chain, but there’s still a long way to go.

Even despite our advances, we still rely on people to perform an astounding number of order-to-cash functions. Just look at SEEK.com.au – in any given month you’ll find hundreds of wholesalers and distributors (many in Foodservice) advertising for staff to perform data entry!  

In this era of rampant inflation, wage pressures, and rising costs, Foodservice distributors are at a crossroads. They must boost productivity if they are to stay afloat. And to boost productivity, it’s crucial to remove the friction surrounding every customer-supplier interaction. 

‘But how’, you ask? That’s precisely the question this 4-part series aims to answer.   


Driving productivity in Foodservice

So let me ask, how do your customers order?   

In our experience, we’ve found that 80% of all inbound orders typically come via 3 channels: 

  • Email
  • Sales / field reps
  • Online ecommerce platforms

But beyond placing orders, how else do your customers look for service?

No doubt you interact with your customers in a variety of ways, relaying product information, availability, pricing, stock ETAs, and so forth.

If those 3 sales channels aren’t optimised to handle those interactions as well, you’re dealing with unnecessary friction – for both you and your customer.  


What to expect in this series  

Over the coming weeks and months, we’re going to look at how you can drive productivity as a Foodservice distributor. We’ll explore 3 tried and tested solutions that can support your business in ways you might not even have considered.  

First up will be sales order automation hero, Lucy. Designed to take manual data entry off your hands, Lucy handles those purchase orders you get via email. It takes just seconds for Lucy to read and validate the order, integrate it to the ERP, and remember that customer’s quirky ordering habits for next time.      

Next we’ll take a look at mobile field rep solution, Opmetrix CRM. Far more than just an order-taking tool, Opmetrix connects your field team to all the rich customer data they need out in the field. Instead of losing hours in the office doing admin, your reps can create magic on the road engaging with customers and doing what they do best.  

Finally, we’ll dive into B2B ecommerce platform CV ecommerce. Whilst almost every business has a website these days, when it comes to B2B, not all platforms are created equal! From order complexity to system integration to personalisation, there’s far more to B2B ecommerce than meets the eye.   

Following each installment in the series, we’ll host a live ‘fireside chat’. Meet customers who’ve driven productivity using these tools in their own businesses, with the opportunity for Q&A.  

I hope you’ll join us on the journey. In the meantime, if you’re ready to chat about any of Commerce Vision’s solutions, please get in touch