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6 Minute Read

How Food Distribution Software Should Empower Different Functions

As a food distributor, getting deliveries right and delighting your customers doesn’t start and stop with your delivery drivers. It’s a team effort that pulls in people and processes from across a host of different functions: sales, merchandising, warehousing, services, and more. When these functions are all able to coordinate effectively towards a common goal—keeping customers happy in a cost-efficient way—then you can set yourself up for success and growth. image (25)

When these functions are disconnected, on the other hand, it’s all too easy to wind up with service that’s disjointed and inefficient. Merchandisers can wind up on-site before the delivery has even arrived. Sales teams can’t figure out which customers to prioritize visits to because they can’t easily tell how the deliveries are going. All the while, opportunities for improved cost efficiency become hard to capitalize on. 

Achieving solid coordination between different functions isn’t always easy to get right—but it is crucial to success. Whether you’re able to make that happen or not comes down to whether you have the right tools for the job. In this case, that means finding a delivery management solution that empowers roles across a number of different functions and promotes delivery visibility from end to end. 

Why Food Distributors Need a Comprehensive Delivery Software Solution

First things first, why is it so important to find a software solution that can empower different roles across a distributor’s operations? Why not leverage multiple more specialized solutions for the different functions that touch the fulfillment process?

In many cases, you will wind up supplementing even the most comprehensive food delivery management technology with systems that are specific to, say, sales operations. But when you commit to separate IT for each function, you can set yourself up for data and decision-making silos. You might be planning the world’s most efficient delivery routes and executing them to a t, meanwhile merchandising has optimized its own plans to ensure efficiency—but the plans don’t make sense together. 

The result is service that’s disjointed and doesn’t satisfy the customer. It’s not just that these planning processes that are closely related wind up being carried out in their own separate silos, it’s that one function doesn’t have visibility into another. Sales operations can’t easily see when deliveries are being carried out to particular customers, so they can’t coordinate their own visits effectively. Delivery and service technicians can’t coordinate easily, so they wind up working at cross-purposes. 

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When you have a comprehensive delivery management solution that actually provides visibility and support for each of your different functions, the script turns on its head. With the right food delivery technology, users across roles can gain total visibility into delivery operations and plan their own visits and activities accordingly. This ensures that when you’re optimizing deliveries, you don’t leave out all of the other functions that go into great customer service. It also helps ensure that when you’re estimating delivery costs, you account for the entire fulfillment journey, rather than just focusing on delivery driver time and fuel costs. This gives you a much more complete picture of your cost-to-serve, which in turn makes it that much easier to reduce that number over time. 

Which Functions Should Your Software Empower?

With a last mile delivery solution that covers the entire last mile fulfillment journey, you can improve coordination between functions and ultimately reduce costs across your network. But what should your software actually offer to the different functions and roles that touch the customer fulfillment process?

  • Sales Reps: Sales teams will have their own software solutions, but they should have access to delivery software in order to gain visibility into delivery operations. Ideally, they'd have their own mobile application with which to check in on deliveries that are underway. When they can get this level of visibility, they can coordinate their efforts with deliveries more effectively. Some platforms can even assist sales personnel in routing their visits to customers to ensure efficiency. 
  • Delivery Drivers: Delivery drivers are the face of your delivery operations, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if your delivery management software is feature-rich when it comes to empowering drivers. In fact, it should surprise you if it isn’t. Drivers need the ability to see all of their orders, communicate with both customers and dispatchers as needed, and capture photos, signatures, and notes for proof of delivery. They should also be able to access notes about particular delivery sites, accept cash on delivery, and scan items on and off trucks as needed. 
  • Merchandisers: Merchandising should be given the same level of visibility as sales when it comes to keeping tabs on deliveries as they unfold. Your delivery platform should offer them their own mobile app for keeping tabs on deliveries as they unfold, such that they can more effectively time their visits around deliveries. This level of visibility should also be baked into the planning stages of the delivery process, with merchandising teams able to access delivery plans as needed to coordinate their own service more effectively. 
  • Service Technicians: For businesses that might offer services (e.g. line cleaning) in addition to products, your platform needs to enable you to route and schedule service calls just as easily as it enables you to route and schedule deliveries. To make this happen, you need to be able to configure your routing to account for differences in service time and driver/technician skill. You need a way to dispatch the right job to the right technician and the right service unit, so you don’t wind up sending someone to a job they’re not equipped for. 
  • Shuttle Drivers: Even roles that don’t directly interface with customers, e.g. shuttle drivers who may be moving items between warehouses and distribution centers, need to be empowered by your delivery management software. They’ll need visibility into delivery operations, as well as capabilities for managing their own capacity ensuring that the right equipment type is reserved for the right jobs. 

At the end of the day, no platform can be everything to everyone. But the ability to add value for a number of different roles and functions can be crucial when it comes to delivery management software. And it’s not just about rolling out different mobile applications for different personnel in the field, it’s about making sure that the data that users across roles need in order to do their jobs is always at their fingertips. 

Some of that comes down to support for specific functions, but some of it comes down to the baseline features and functionality of the software solution in question. True data visibility, for instance, is a function of seamlessly integrating data from other solutions as well as presenting that data in an intuitive way. The ability to integrate with other solutions here is critical. When different functions are able to find the data they need without hunting for it across multiple different solutions, they plan, execute, and analyze the entire process that much more quickly. 

By the same token, when you have a solution that can generate plans quickly and analyze data seamlessly across roles, you can do more than just boost performance: you can make the entire delivery journey more seamless and delight your customers in the process.

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