David Bickerstaff 07 August 2023 4 min read

How Foodservice Distributors can drive productivity in FY24 - Part 2: Automation

Productivity. It’s the word on everyone’s lips these days, with business and government leaders scrambling to find ways to increase it.   

In the opener to this series, we spoke about productivity specifically within the Foodservice industry. In an economic climate this challenging, efficiency and productivity gains will be critical for foodservice distributors trying to weather the storm.     

Friction - the enemy of productivity

With so many touchpoints between the foodservice distributor and the customer in the order-to-cash process, it’s no wonder we encounter excess friction in that supply chain. Whether it's placing an order, enquiring about stock availability, chasing an ETA, or paying an invoice, there are numerous ways your customers interact with you as the distributor over the course of an average day.

Compounding this is the fact that many distributors essentially provide service to their customers around the clock. That additional time pressure adds even more friction as suppliers find ways to accommodate customer needs.

All of this friction creates delays, invites errors, and costs money. Removing that friction is a surefire way to clear roadblocks and boost productivity. 

Where to begin?

If you're looking to remove friction from your order-to-cash process, a logical place to begin is with the order itself.

Your customers probably order from you in a variety of ways – online, with reps, via emailed purchase orders... by phone even.  

But today we’re going to zero in on one sales channel in particular – the emailed purchase order.  


Foodservice never sleeps

In the foodservice industry, life happens around the clock. Kitchen staff do their reordering late at night after service, and they often need that stock the next morning for the breakfast or lunch crowd. Afterhours ordering makes a quick turnaround difficult, but in foodservice it’s critical.

As the supplier, your foodservice customers rely on you for the 3 Rs: 

  • Right range
  • Right price
  • Reliably delivered. 

If you’re like many foodservice distributors, your website is most likely ecommerce-ready, but you still receive a significant percentage of orders via email. Which means it’s up to you as the supplier to get those orders from the inbox into the ERP system.  

And who would’ve thought that 20 years into the new millennium, after we’ve invested so much in tech and digital, we’d still be paying people to do data entry? One look at SEEK.com.au confirms this is the case, but I'm here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be.  

We’ve spoken to dozens of foodservice distributors who tell us they have office staff clocking on before sunrise to process orders so they can fill customer demand on time. The warehouse can’t pick and pack until the customer service team key the order into the system.

And it’s this ‘swivel chair integration’ as we call it, that brings so much friction.  


Automation - the enemy of friction

After repeatedly hearing from customers about this issue, we knew there had to be a better way. And so Lucy was born.  

Lucy was created to remove the manual data entry burden from wholesalers and distributors who receive orders by email.

As PDF purchase orders come in, Lucy handles them so your staff don’t have to.

  • With integration to your ERP, Lucy validates the order data to ensure right product, right price.
  • If there’s an issue, Lucy flags it before it reaches your system.
  • Once it’s been corrected, Lucy remembers that fix for next time.  

Being an intelligent software application, Lucy does all of this within seconds, freeing your staff to perform other work.

And for foodservice distributors, an undeniable advantage of Lucy is that not only does she work around the clock, but she’s on duty 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. 

In short, Lucy removes that friction from your purchase order processing, clearing that bottleneck and returning literally HOURS of valuable time back to your team. 


Where to from here?

Although you can’t dictate how your customers order and interact with your business, you can equip yourselves with the tools to handle those interactions more efficiently.  

If you’re considering hiring Lucy, why not visit her website* to check out her resume and perhaps arrange an interview.  

(*yep, Lucy’s so impressive she's even got her own website)

Or, check out the on-demand recording of our fireside chat webinar with Morco Fresh! Customer Service Manager Dennis had some fantastic insights around Morco's experience with Lucy sales order automation.    

Whilst Lucy is proven to remove friction from the order entry process, there are still other sales channels for us to examine.  In Part 3, we’ll take a look at your field reps and explore ways to make your sales team more productive than they’ve ever been.  

See you there...