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4 Strategies for Success in Food Distribution and How ERP Technology Facilitates Growth

4 Strategies for Success in Food Distribution and How ERP Technology Facilitates Growth


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4 Strategies for Success in Food Distribution and How ERP Technology Facilitates Growth

9 Déc 2021

John McCurdy
Food distribution workers review info on a tablet.

As a leader at your food distribution business, what are your top concerns regarding the continued success of your operations and products? Shifts in supply chains, tough competition and shifting tastes all warrant your attention, and each demands adaptability, agility and an innovative approach to maintain profitability and fuel future growth.

Consumer preferences are changing rapidly, with new diets, seasonal items and greater variety influencing purchase decisions in retail and foodservice settings. Meanwhile, downward pressure on prices is putting a squeeze on distributors’ profit margins, placing the onus on your organization to become more efficient and make the most out of every opportunity.

In this post, we’ll discuss four strategies that can help keep your food distribution company ahead of the competition, as well as the ways that purpose-built enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology facilitates their implementation.

Add Niche Products to Your Lineup

Today’s consumers are on the lookout for items at stores and restaurants that align with their health concerns and satisfy their desire for novelty. To ensure that your product lineup remains attractive to retailers and foodservice outlets, you should consider introducing new lines tailored to specific dietary restrictions, seasonal surges and cultural tastes.

For example, consider the demand for organic products, or the need for gluten-free offerings for those with celiac disease or other sensitivities. There are also items more popular around certain holidays—such as pumpkin- and peppermint-flavored coffees and sweets—as well as traditional Hispanic and Asian foods that appeal to certain demographics.

Having items available that suit these needs will make your distribution business more attractive to sales outlets that want to ensure their offerings appeal to their diverse and savvy customer base. Your company can more easily introduce new products with a food distribution ERP solution, as these all-in-one platforms provide excellent supply chain management capabilities that allow for the introduction of new partners both downstream and upstream.

Expand Into New Outlets

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive shift in buying habits among consumers and put a serious damper on restaurant sales over the past two years. Online sales outlets were able to capitalize on the opening in the market that this created, seizing a much more prominent position and growing by 35% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Your food distribution business should explore the potential of selling to these channels or increasing your efforts on this front if you already have established relationships with online retailers. You should also take into account the increased popularity of buying in bulk at warehouse clubs and mass market stores and look into which of your products sell best in those settings to optimize your outcomes.

We mentioned how food distribution ERP make working with new supply chain partners easier through a user-friendly interface and customizable backend, but another way that the technology can serve here is through powerful analytics tools. By digging into past sales data and creating reliable projections for the future, an advanced food ERP system like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP can provide actionable insights that lead to a smarter approach.

Create Ways to Add Value

Value-added services can be a key differentiator for food distribution businesses. If you can offer products that satisfy consumers’ cravings for convenience and high standards for freshness and quality, you’re likely to have better success ensuring steady business from the sales outlets you work with.

One way that distributors can adjust their offerings to suit today’s consumption patterns is to offer individual serving packages for on-the-go eating and snacking. You can also consider new packaging technologies that can track and indicate product freshness as a way to give customers confidence in your brand and items.

Food ERP solutions give you the flexibility to introduce new product formats and packaging with ease, as the interface allows for full configurability based on the item and terms agreed to with the sales outlet downstream. ERP also facilitate automatic quality checks and integration with AI-driven digital imaging devices to guarantee that the color, size and overall appearance of your goods is up to par.

Integrate with Smart Equipment and Automate Processes

The more that your food distribution company can leverage the latest technological developments and automate critical processes, the more efficient and consistent your operations will be, which will in turn boost your profit margins. The best food ERP are built to help your organization realize these results with the latest integrations and compatibility with complementary systems.

Knowing how important inventory management and logistics are for businesses like yours, ERP solutions provide uncompromising visibility of your data, including quantities, sources, destinations, expiration dates and more. These systems can also integrate with radio frequency identification (RFID) devices and handheld barcode and QR code scanners to gather and update information in real time.

What’s more, they will automatically schedule important compliance and sanitation measures, keeping your products safe and helping to guard against contaminations and the recalls that could result. And by syncing up with IoT-enabled sensors, thermometers and scales, you can ensure that your products are stored and delivered in a way that keeps them in ideal condition.

Knowing Which Food Distribution Solution Is Right for Your Business

ERP systems for food distributors vary in the tools they offer out of the box, as well as the ways that they interact with other food and beverage technology. If you’re looking for a platform that will serve as the foundation for a digital transformation and help you put the above strategies to good use, you need to know that the one you select is specialized for your processes and on the cutting edge in terms of integrations.

Another important consideration is how well a given vendor’s teams know the world of food and beverage, with special attention to the most common concerns that distribution businesses like yours have. At Aptean, we can say with confidence that we “speak your language,” having decades of collective knowledge and experience with clients in your sector.

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP has the added edge of integrating seamlessly with the rest of our food and beverage solutions ecosystem, including Aptean Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Aptean Transportation Management System (TMS), Aptean Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Aptean Business Intelligence (BI) and Aptean Pay, among others. What’s more, we offer flexible cloud deployments with 99.9% system uptime, keeping your operations nimble and dependable.

Ready to learn more about what Aptean Food & Beverage ERP can do for your food distribution company? Contact us today, or schedule a personalized demo.

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Cornet de crème glacée avec sauce au chocolat.