If you've ever worked within the ranks of a food distribution company, or even as a buyer in a restaurant - you know how difficult and demanding the sales rep role can be.

Whether it's constantly being on the road, juggling multiple clients, getting yelled at by an angry chef, or having to be "always-on" and available, traditional sales roles in foodservice can be a gruelling endeavour.

Having been the founder, operator, and sales rep of a tech-enabled boat-to-plate seafood company, I've had my fair share of getting yelled at by a chef or punching in orders at 2am.

Because of these less than desirable expectations, foodservice wholesalers have had an increasingly difficult time hiring and retaining existing staff. And this isn't an exaggeration. Simply taking five minutes to scour job reviews on Glassdoor affirms this theory.

Take these reviews for instance:

"Long hours of work... anything can happen anytime"
"You'll be working almost 24/7. Expect to take calls from early morning until late night, and you'll have to wake up before 5 to put in any orders you missed while asleep"
"Long hours with unrealistic expectations on availability"

With the great resignation in full swing -with no signs of slowing-  hiring and retaining staff is simultaneously more difficult and a bigger priority than ever before. This is amplified for industries like foodservice, where it can take months to train reps with product/industry-specific knowledge, or forge relationships with chefs and restaurants.

This is where online ordering has the opportunity transform the rep experience. With foodservice-specific e-commerce platforms like Freshline, wholesalers can transform their reps from order takers to salespeople - empowering them to perform at their best in less hours.

For example, sales reps can leverage online ordering to:

Eliminate time-consuming, manual work

  • Online ordering allows reps to take back their evenings - letting the platform enforce ordering cutoffs, lead times, product availability, time windows, and delivery schedules;
  • Reps and restaurants can share the same order, receipts, and details - all one one platform;
  • Orders from chefs that refuse online ordering can be handled through 24/7 access to a simple order entry page;

Unlock new data and visibility

  • Sales reps can unlock real-time visibility into where the order is - packing, delivery, fulfillment, etc;
  • Reps can track their own sales performance, unlocking clarity into commissions and areas of improvement - which was previously only possible through manual compilation at the end of the month;
  • Reps can assess ordering patterns and customer trends to easily upsell or proactively prevent churning customers;

Regain focus on deeper, more meaningful work

  • reps can focus on sales vs. order taking - giving them the latitude to work on strategy, sales growth, and building deeper, more meaningful relationships;

While the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the advent of resignations, it's also brought about positive movements in foodservice - such as the rapid adoption of technology and the willingness to adapt. These are fundamental stepping stones to ensuring the long term viability and success for foodservice wholesalers across the globe.

Curious about how to future-proof your foodservice operations? Book a demo to see how B2B e-commerce makes receiving, managing, and fulfilling orders 10x more efficient for food suppliers.