Foodservice - similar to centuries-old industries like lumber or chemicals - is notorious for being slow to adopt data & technology. And can lead to a huge missed opportunity.

An average North American foodservice distributor fulfills over 200 orders per week. This equates to over 10,000 orders in a calendar year! Despite this, most of this data is seldom utilized or even stored online after the fulfillment date. On a global level, this is further amplified - where food distributors generate nearly $11 trillion in revenue - but often rely on relationships, tradition, and gut decisions above metrics and data.

While several companies have caught up on the importance of data, this has been traditionally reserved for conglomerates like Sysco, who has the necessary of resources, staff, and software programs to take advantage.

Luckily, with the advancement of cloud-based platforms like Freshline, any foodservice distributor of any size can launch their own system to:

  1. Capture previously untapped data;
  2. Analyze and visualize the results in real-time;
  3. And make proactive data-driven adjustments or additions their business;

Curious to learn how this newfound data can be used? Here are three ways analytics and data can positively impact the growth of foodservice businesses

Proactive, data-driven, real-time decisions

Traditionally, "real-time" and foodservice didn't fit inside a shared sentence. Most suppliers would have to rely on delayed reporting and accounting that lagged behind day to day operations.

With the help of wholesale e-commerce, distributors have the capability to  track key metrics in real time, such as:

  • Profitability per-order or per-customer;
  • SKU margin trends and comparisons;
  • Revenue, cost, and day-to-day profitability tracking;

These metrics can be used to make proactive - not reactive - decisions, such as scaling marketing, hiring staff, or discontinuing specific product lines.

Enabling and empowering sales reps

In traditional foodservice, sales representatives often have little to no visibility into their performance. Whether it's forecasting their commissions, revenue generated to date, or month over month client growth, the uncertainty and opaqueness of their performance often prevents them from doing their best work.

With data captured through online ordering, both reps and managers can quickly assess revenue and commissions on a per rep-level. This allows reps to stay motivated, while enabling managers to further incentivize, reward, or support them proactively, rather than reactively.

Operational improvement

Finally, previously untapped data can help distributors make improvements to the way they operate and fulfill orders.

A key example of this is assessing sales activity by delivery areas or week dates, which helps distributors determine whether they should:

  • Double down or reduce service in a delivery area based on sales activity;
  • Reduce or expand the service dates in a given location, based on order patterns;

Furthermore, an integrated fulfillment platform like Freshline can allow suppliers to track picking and packing defect rates, customer return/refund rates, as well as customer credit utilization to assess the health of their business.

The foodservice industry is seeing a golden era for data analytics - where those leveraging this untapped potential will be the ones that thrive into tomorrow and beyond. Will you be one of them?