Demands placed on food distribution companies can be intense. Whether you’re in the general catering sector or distribute niche and specialty foods, there are constant pressures from competition, squeezed margins, and customer loyalty. How can Dynamics GP help to alleviate these problems? That’s the question we’ll explore in this article.
Creating Happy and Loyal Customers Starts with Sales
Have you armed your sales staff with the tools they need to quickly respond to customer questions about price, stock availability, and order status?
Sales order entry is a critical activity in the specialty food business. It may be the only regular and consistent point of contact with your customers - so the speed, skill, and knowledge shown by your sales staff has major influence on your customers’ perception of the entire company itself.
Sales staff that can answer questions about pricing, inventory availability, suitable substitutes, product promotions, and understand the customer’s buying patterns will leave a lasting positive impression. In addition, many specialty food distribution companies can have specific functional requirements such as managing catch weighs, offering product promotions, or agreeing to reserve stocks for a customer.
In particular, product pricing needs to be flexible, easy to maintain, and designed to foster long-term customer loyalty. This is achieved through date controlled sector price lists, customer specific product pricing, quantity breaks and promotions, aggregate pricing, and rebate functionality.
While Dynamics GP can manage many of these tasks ‘out of the box’, you may also need to enhance the core ERP features with a product like the Trinity Distribution Suite that adds advanced functionality specifically designed for the food distribution industry.
The Pick-Pack-Ship Cycle and Inventory Traceability
Is your inventory correctly deployed across all regional branches and depots?
Getting product into your customers hands as quickly as possible is critical. The key is to streamline the pick-pack-ship workflow to ensure that inventory is gathered quickly and accurately and can be picked by individual order or by bulk. Picking instructions generated by your ERP system should not only refer to product and warehouse location, but also indicate the supplier or manufacturer’s batch number to be used.
In addition, specific batch and lot traceability are important so that food distributors can easily identify which supplier batch was used to fulfill a specific customer delivery. This capability is critical not only for product recall, but also to ensure that goods are picked from the oldest dated stock using the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ dates.
Dynamics GP, combined with the Trinity Distribution Suite, provides full product recall and traceability reporting so that for a given batch number, you can quickly identify the supplier and all the customers to whom the item was sold. Throughout the warehouse process, Dynamics GP will track each order through the system and provide customer service staff with visibility of each order's status in the warehouse.
Balancing Purchasing and Inventory Levels
Are you buying and stocking the right inventory at the right price and right time?
Advanced Inventory Replenishment (AIR) is a powerful demand forecasting tool for Dynamics GP that enables your buyers to set stock policies in time, understand the nature of demand (including lost and exceptional sales), and intelligently deploy one of 15 industry standard formulas per inventory item. Options cover everything from simple rolling average to weighted average and seasonal comparisons. Once set, AIR will automatically calculate minimum stock, reorder point, and maximum stock levels.
These “intelligent inventory” levels are then used within the built-in Dynamics GP purchase order generator to suggest optimum purchase quantities as well as suggesting a supplier price based on date of purchase. Other inquiry screens help you optimize order size based on target volume and value to support buying decisions that balance inventory investment with customer service.
For multi-site companies that require close control of inter-branch movements, Advanced Inventory Replenishment will also provide complete integration, documentation, and workflow for internal sales and purchase orders, together with monitoring and valuation of in-transit stock.
Food Distribution Suite for Dynamics GP
When you combine the built-in features of Dynamics GP with the advanced functionality of the Trinity Suite, you get powerful food distribution software that will improve sales, increase customer service, streamline warehouse operations, and ensure you’re purchasing and stocking the right amount of inventory.