Posted by Dawn Aldwinckle on December 19th, 2013
Whether your food wholesale business is fledging or established, gaining your next customer is always at the forefront of your mind. You’ve driven down your prices as far as possible, the only trouble is, so has everyone else. You know that your product is unique and good quality, but how can you distinguish yourself from all the other suppliers who claim the same?
In short, you need to be sure that you can give your target consumers exactly what they want. The only way to do that is by getting to know them. By examining their buying patterns, you can identify their preferred purchasing processes and match them against your selling practices, identifying any areas for alignment.
ERP: Helping put theory into practice
That’s the theory, but how do you put it into practice? You need to handle a vast amount of data to complete your BI analysis. You have to ensure your business meets the needs of a rapidly changing and digital-focused buyers market, and your services are consistently reliable once you’ve acquired that new business. All this requires the right software system.
It’s time to take a long hard look at your food wholesale ERP solution and ask yourself the following:
1. Is your food wholesale business 24/7 reliable?
They say money never sleeps. Your organic artisan food and beverages may be far removed from the world of Gordon Gekko, but with 24/7 opening hours, e-commerce, smart phone use and social customer service, the food supply chain industry is becoming increasingly connected.
You need to be sure your ERP system can keep up: real-time order status logging, plus seamless and flexible order administration. You need reliable planning software that’s built to be used 24/7, has intuitive help functions, and is backed up by dedicated & knowledgeable support staff inside office hours. These are all basic must-haves in modern food ERP, which you will be grateful for when an order for 100 croissants comes in from a hotel at midnight.
2. Is your ERP system designed with food wholesale businesses needs in mind?
Food retailers don’t just want 24/7 service, they want – and need – up to the minute order data and accurate cost information. Traceability and landed cost tracking are central to the food wholesale industry, and must be integrally featured in your ERP software.
A system with full traceability helps you as a food wholesaler and distributer to stay compliant. You can reduce product recall with specific lot tracking should contamination be identified. Real-time landed cost tracking features embedded in planning software – versus a stagnant Excel spreadsheet – enable you to calculate the real overall cost of getting your product to the warehouse door. Offering up complete transparency for your customers and also the retailers you sell to.
3. Can you generate complete analytical BI reports, on the things YOU want to know?
As you get to know your customers, you need to get to know your own business just as well. Analytics are complicated enough without having to wade through files retracing your steps. Stock taking, inventory and food supply chain schedules can all be incredibly complicated if using a multi-tier system, or spreadsheet workaround, and it means that your ability to pull data from these areas for use in reports or Business Intelligence (BI) analysis is severely reduced.
An analytics module in your ERP software gives greater visibility of trends and buying patterns to help you make those all important business decisions.
It is also useful to have a solution that keeps you abreast of day-to-day buying information, such as email alerts when a customer is expected to buy from you, and automated system call prompts should they not. It means your customer outreach is proactive, helpful and allows you to immediately respond to changing food retail customer needs.
Key takeaway: The secret to gaining increased and repeat trade is going the extra mile to offer customers not just a good value product, but a good working relationship and pleasant buying process. The pleasant process has to start within your business. If your current ERP system is making your life difficult, it is hindering the service you could provide to your customers.
You need a solution that is tailored to you. You’ve asked enough questions about your business, now here are the questions to ask ERP vendors
Seizing new business opportunities starts with the right software – if you’re looking to update your food wholesale ERP solution to help you compete, download our free Guide: What to demand from food distribution & wholesale ERP software here.
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