Blog > Foodservice Distributors Find Success Through Direct to Consumer Channels

The COVID-19 pandemic was a massive disruption in the foodservice segment that forced many companies to create new sales channels to move products directly to the consumer. 

Some foodservice operations enhanced their B2B and B2C capabilities with will-call pickups, truck sales, or boxed produce offerings, while others went all in with home delivery models. Rapid adoption was critical, so some programs were implemented with speed prioritized over functionality. 

As we continue to move forward through the pandemic, distributors will need to enhance their product or services’ supply chain management (SCM) if these new channels are to succeed in the long term.

We evaluated direct to consumer solutions being offered by distributors and found that similar challenges were evident in most cases. Most information presented to the end user at the time of purchase via eCommerce sites was insufficient. We found it to be unable to support the needs of the typical consumer beyond the obvious minimum order/drop size, pack/size, and labeling concerns.

With most online shoppers focused on enhanced product detail and pictures, nutritional content and allergen information have become essential. For instance, I live on a gluten-free diet, making allergen information a requirement. Yet, I found the sites I evaluated were unable to tell me if it was safe to eat their food products.

Most distributors have cryptic item descriptions in their catalogs that are remnants of the days where every byte was important. These descriptions aren’t obvious to the average weekly grocery store shopper. While we know that CHIX BRST is chicken, the average consumer wouldn’t look for chicken breast that way.

Credit Card/EFT electronic payment is also a concern for some distributors. Distributors selling catchweight items don’t know the true invoice amount until the order is picked. Subpar eCommerce solutions cannot accommodate putting a hold on a credit card to authorize an order and then bill upon shipment. Most often distributors are forced to sell fixed weight packages, which opens a whole series of challenges.

For companies to succeed in both channels, it is imperative that they use purpose-built food distribution solutions. These solutions should have a functionality designed for business to consumer eCommerce modules as well as business to business eCommerce modules. 

Possessing multiple product descriptions, advanced search options, GDSN/ product content, and advanced payment options are a good start but just the basics. 

The eCommerce world is very large, but companies like Amazon exist. If you wish to capture (or maintain) business, you need to have functionality similar to that of Amazon in your offering. We’re within a time in which consumers expect and actively seek it.

The system also needs to be suitable to manage workflow for various order types, pricing methodologies, deal/pricing scenarios, freight options, and shipping requirements. 

Ignition by TELUS aims to provide companies with the tools to successfully take on these new channels. Contact Ignition by TELUS today to speak to a dedicated representative and learn how to enable your company to adapt to challenging times.

 

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