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How to Optimize DSD Solutions for the Food and Beverage Industry

Operating under the direct store delivery (DSD) sales model can be challenging, especially for the food and beverage industry. Although you may have been reluctant in the past to invest in a new DSD solution, the gap between what your legacy system is capable of and what a new mobile solution can do to address your business challenges may lead you to the conclusion that it’s time for a change.

Food and beverage DSD is especially demanding because of the necessity to minimize the time limited-shelf-life products spend in the supply chain — not to mention the stiff competition you face. Upgrading your DSD solution can better position your company to operate more efficiently and competitively, but there are five things you must do to optimize a DSD solution for your specific business:

1. Put yourself in the driver’s seat.Before you make a technology purchase, it’s important to carefully examine your operational challenges and business needs. Make this list front of mind as you speak with your integrator or technology solutions provider. You are looking for a solution that addresses your unique business — not looking to purchase a solution and trying to make your business fit the technology.

2. Think outside the box.Your current solution may not offer all the features and functionality that next-gen solutions can offer your business — so also list capabilities you would like to gain through this upgrade. For example, food and beverage vendors are dealing with significant SKU proliferation and pressures from a very competitive market. Next-gen DSD solutions can help you put more emphasis on your sales and merchandising process, enabling you to upload video or market stats onto your sales reps’ tablets to enhance sales presentations and to collect market intelligence through surveys or shelf checks.

3. Eliminate siloes.Next-gen DSD solutions facilitate better communication and information sharing among all areas of your operation, including:

  • Pre-route tasks: Picking and packing, route planning, and load management
  • Transportation: GPS tracking, vehicle diagnostics, and customer alerts for delivery time
  • Delivery: RF or bar code scanning, proof of delivery, and shelf resets
  • Merchandising: Monitoring promotion compliance, competitor price checks, and consumer intercept surveys
  • Information access: Price lookup, inventory data, and customer account history
  • Sales: Client surveys, business intelligence, and data analytics to help target promotions
  • Payment: Signature capture and mobile payment

This data captured by your new DSD solution can help streamline your processes and provide real-time inventory, transportation, and account information. Make sure your new solution includes the necessary communications and wireless infrastructure upgrades needed to support reliable, secure data transmission.

4. Save time.Most likely, controlling labor costs is one of your priorities. DSD operators can slash the time it takes to perform manual administrative tasks with automated scheduling, tracking, data analysis, and reporting provided by your new DSD solution. Look for a solution that addresses your most time-consuming tasks.

5. Keep your options open.Many legacy DSD systems use rugged handheld devices running Windows Embedded. Your options now include DSD systems hosted in the cloud and running iOS or Android applications on a variety of tablets and other mobile devices. Not only are there more options for an operating system, the mobile market continues to evolve. Instead of making an investment in a solution designed to run one operating system, consider cross-platform options that will allow you to switch to different applications without replacing hardware.

The opportunities for productivity gains in the food and beverage industry through the use of DSD can be remarkable. The functionality new DSD solutions provide far surpasses what legacy systems can accomplish. Among you and your top competitors, which will be the first to have this advantage?